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Large water users have to submit usage plans from next year

SINGAPORE — With the current dry spell, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan stressed the need for industries and homes to conserve water.

SINGAPORE — With the current dry spell, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan stressed the need for industries and homes to conserve water.

As part of efforts to help large users of water, such as hotels and wafer-fabrication plants, improve water efficiency, the ministry will make it mandatory for all large users to submit Water Efficiency Management Plans (WEMPs) from next year.

They will have to install private water meters on their premises and submit plans annually to national water agency, the PUB.

Speaking in Parliament at his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate yesterday, Dr Balakrishnan said: “We believe these plans will help companies become more aware of their water usage patterns, (so) they (can) identify ways to reduce consumption and raise efficiency.”

Singapore’s water sources are “reasonably secure for now”, but the Republic should not be complacent.

“We don’t know whether this will turn out to be an El Nino year and, if so, how severe its implications … So the point is, we cannot afford to waste water and need to be very careful to emphasise conservation and insist on efficient use of water across all sectors,” he said.

Dr Balakrishnan added: “I think this is a good reminder that, in fact, flash floods come and go, but droughts can be prolonged and are a much greater strategic threat to our well-being.”

To improve water efficiency in homes, only washing machines with at least a one-tick rating in water efficiency will be allowed for sale in Singapore from next month.

The ministry intends to raise the minimum standard to at least two ticks next year, said Dr Balakrishnan.

As for whether it was “double handling” to add NEWater into reservoirs to produce drinking water — an issue raised by Nee Soon GRC Member of Parliament Lee Bee Wah — Dr Balakrishnan explained that the process of topping up the reservoirs with recycled water and processing the mixed water supply creates an “environmental buffer”.

While NEWater is safe to drink, removing that buffer is a big step to take.

“It is something I will study very, very carefully and I will give you this assurance that our top and paramount concern is public hygiene, safety, security and peace of mind among people, so let’s not rush into this,” he said.

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