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Singapore's first large-scale desalination plant capable of treating both seawater and freshwater opens

SINGAPORE — National water agency PUB and Keppel officially opened Singapore’s first large-scale dual-mode desalination plant on Thursday (Feb 4).

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which commenced operations in June last year, is capable of producing about 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day, said PUB and Keppel.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which commenced operations in June last year, is capable of producing about 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day, said PUB and Keppel.

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SINGAPORE — National water agency PUB and Keppel officially opened Singapore’s first large-scale dual-mode desalination plant on Thursday (Feb 4).

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which is located at Marina East, can treat seawater, as well as freshwater drawn from the Marina Reservoir, depending on the prevailing weather conditions.

It is Singapore's fourth desalination plant.

Both reservoir water and seawater can be drawn via the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant's dual flow chamber, which is joined to the main plant by a 1.8km-long pipeline.

The plant's treatment facilities are contained underground, but it has nearly 20,000 sq m of open green rooftop space for community activity and recreation, said PUB and Keppel in a news release.

Bicycle parking and toilet facilities are available at the public recreation space. 

The plant also incorporates eco-features such as rain harvesting to meet the needs of irrigation and water features.

The opening ceremony was officiated by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, with Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu also in attendance.

In his speech at the ceremony, Mr Lee noted that the new plant was part of Singapore’s long-term planning and its ability to switch to treating reservoir water will save costs and boost operational flexibility.

He added that conserving water should be a “daily way of life” for people in Singapore with climate change making reliable water supply harder to come by.

“We are always pushing the limits of our water resources. Producing each additional drop of water gets harder and harder ... We require more infrastructure, new technologies, more extensive treatment, all of which inevitably means a higher incremental cost.”

While the Government will continue to plan ahead, and build up infrastructure ahead of time, people in Singapore need to get involved, added Mr Lee. 

“Singaporeans also need to play our part, to use water only when we truly need to, and to make conserving water our daily way of life.”

PUB chief executive officer Ng Joo Hee noted that seawater desalination is one of Singapore's "four national taps" and that unlike the other three taps — imports, rainfall and recycled water — it is a "practically limitless source".

"It is also weather-resistant and always available, rain or shine, as a source of life-giving water," he added.

"The availability of desalination makes Singapore's water supply immensely resilient. And the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant coming online further strengthens Singapore's water security."

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is the second water plant developed and operated by Keppel under the Design, Build, Own and Operate arrangement with PUB. It is operated by a Keppel subsidiary, Marina East Water, for a 25-year concession period — from 2020 to 2045.

The first plant, Keppel Seghers Ulu Pandan NEWater Plant, commenced commercial operations in 2007.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, which commenced operations in June last year, is capable of producing about 30 million gallons of fresh drinking water per day, said PUB and Keppel. This is about seven per cent of Singapore's total water demand.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant also allows for "significant cost and space saving", as well as increased energy efficiency, said PUB and Keppel.

While most compact desalination plants in Singapore have an overall land area of approximately 2.8ha, the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant's equipment and processes occupy an area of 2.4ha.

This is due to several factors. One of which because it is the first desalination plant in Singapore to directly couple both ultrafiltration and reverse osmosis systems, where water filtered from the upstream ultrafiltration process is fed directly to the downstream reverse osmosis process. 

This eliminates the need for immediate break tanks and pumping stages, saving costs and space. The entire plant is also between 12 to 15 per cent more energy efficient in its operations. 

It also is the first water treatment plant in Singapore to use ultraviolet radiation as the primary disinfection process.

"Keppel is pleased to mark the official opening of the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant and support the Singapore government in strengthening the resilience of Singapore's water supply," said Dr Ong Tiong Guan, chief executive officer of Keppel Infrastructure.

Dr Ong noted that the development and operation of the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is "very much in line" with Keppel's vision 2030, which envisages the company providing "environmental solutions to contribute to sustainable urbanisation".

He added: "The completion of the plant within budget and on schedule during the Covid-19 pandemic is a further testament to the resilience of Keppel and PUB, and our strong partnership, which has grown from strength to strength.” CNA

For more stories like this, visit cna.asia

Related topics

PUB Keppel water conservation desalination sustainability

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