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Daily water usage exceeds level during haze last year

SINGAPORE — Singapore has seen the current levels of water consumption before, but they were not sustained over a prolonged period, unlike the situation now, said Mr Chew Men Leong, Chief Executive of national water agency PUB, yesterday.

Haze shrouding Ang Mo Kio yesterday. National water agency PUB will monitor for changes in water consumption patterns, should the haze worsen. Photo: Don Wong

Haze shrouding Ang Mo Kio yesterday. National water agency PUB will monitor for changes in water consumption patterns, should the haze worsen. Photo: Don Wong

SINGAPORE — Singapore has seen the current levels of water consumption before, but they were not sustained over a prolonged period, unlike the situation now, said Mr Chew Men Leong, Chief Executive of national water agency PUB, yesterday.

The haze currently affecting Singapore, which began earlier this year, is also a concern and PUB will have to keep tabs on water consumption patterns, he told reporters on the sidelines of a media briefing for coming events to commemorate World Water Day on Saturday.

The daily water usage in recent weeks has surpassed that seen at the height of Singapore’s worst haze episode last year.

The daily water demand in recent weeks hovers between 415 and 420 million gallons per day (mgd), higher than the average daily water consumption of 402mgd and 406mgd last June and July, respectively.

The highest water consumption level recorded during the haze episode was 422mgd on July 24. Singapore’s average daily water demand is about 400mgd, PUB said.

“We are concerned,” said Mr Chew, when asked if he expects water consumption to increase with the haze. “There could be a continuation of the dry spell. Of course, if there’s an increase in terms of the haze, we also have to see how water consumption patterns will change.”

The National Environment Agency had earlier this month said the current dry spell would last until the middle of the month.

Mr Chew added: “Occasionally, when we see dry and hot periods, we see consumption going up to about this kind of level … we have hit it before, (but) not for such a sustained period.”

Last week, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan told Parliament he was seriously considering a suggestion to conduct water rationing exercises as a means of public education, even though they are not an operational necessity.

Agreeing, Mr Chew yesterday said water rationing exercises as a public education and communications tool is useful and the agency is looking into them.

He pointed out that such exercises were last conducted in the 1990s as part of efforts to prepare the public for contingencies.

For World Water Day, the agency is expecting to reach out to at least 200,000 people across more than 250 locations — the biggest outreach effort in five years, said the water agency. Other partners have also organised activities in the lead-up to the event.

A water conservation contest was held at the Haig Road Market and Food Centre on Wednesday, with stallholders submitting their utility bills to see who saved the most water.

The participants recorded total savings of about 17,000 litres of water, including 6,500 litres saved over two months by the contest winner.

Residents have also been trying to conserve water during this dry weather. A 65-year-old retiree, who only wanted to be known as Mr Goh, said he tries to water his plants once a week and uses recycled water to do so. Previously, he would water them twice a week.

The theme for this year’s World Water Day in Singapore is conservation and five key sites — Marina Barrage, Jurong Lake, Geylang River, Punggol Waterway and Yishun Pond — will be hosting various activities to spread the message.

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