New desalination plant brings S’pore closer to self-sufficiency
SINGAPORE — The Republic yesterday took a major stride towards becoming self-sufficient in water, with the opening of the second desalination plant here.
Sitting on a 14-ha site, Tuaspring Desalination Plant is the largest seawater reverse-osmosis desalination plant in Asia. With the capacity to remove dissolved salts from seawater amounting to 70 million gallons daily — equivalent to the amount that can fill 125 Olympic-sized pools — it will triple the amount of water the country gets from desalination.
Desalinated water, or treated seawater, is one of Singapore’s four national taps. The three others are imported water from Malaysia, NEWater and water from the reservoirs.
The new S$1.05-billion facility — developed and operated by Singapore’s biggest listed water treatment company, Hyflux — will deliver desalinated water to national water agency PUB over a 25-year period. Hyflux’s first desalination plant Singspring was opened in 2005 and is also located in Tuas.
Currently, Singspring produces 10 per cent of Singapore’s daily water needs of 400 million gallons. NEWater meets another 30 per cent of the needs, with the remaining supply coming from imported water and local catchment.
Together, the two desalination plants will now be able to meet 25 per cent of water needs.
At the opening ceremony — which was attended by 800 guests, including foreign dignitaries, government officials and industry representatives — Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong noted that Singapore was “almost totally dependent” on water supply from Johor when it achieved independence in 1965. Singaporeans lined up at public taps for water, employed night-soil collectors because homes lacked sanitation, he recounted. But the Republic has since turned a “strategic weakness” into “a source of thought leadership and competitive advantage”, he added.
This was achieved through political leadership, partnerships with various stakeholders and the work of the PUB, said Mr Lee.
For example, political decisions were made to enlarge Singapore’s water catchments, upgrade infrastructure and build a deep sewerage system. The Government also engaged the industry in public-private partnerships to explore and pilot new technologies and develop water infrastructure.
To secure the country’s water resources, the PUB expanded the reservoirs, built new ones, developed technologies to collect rainwater from urban catchments and promoted research and development to develop new sources of water such as NEWater, Mr Lee said.