By Koh Lee Mei Fanny

One of Singapore’s four national taps – local catchments – will help ensure self-sufficiency in Singapore

Self-sufficiency was the key term that was on the lips of Singapore’s ministers in water issues during the opening ceremony of Singapore International Water Week (SIWW).

Seeing our Four National Taps strategy of local catchment, imported water, high grade reclaimed water branded NEWater and desalinated water in place, Singapore seems to be in a safe locale where the provision of water is concerned but being self-reliant in this area is also a vital factor in the future of our survival as a nation, especially when our local supply might not meet future demands.

“With water demand forecasted to double in the next 50 years, Singapore plans to collect every drop of rain by expanding our catchments to 90 per cent of our land area,” stated Mr. Teo Chee Hean, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, at the opening ceremony of Singapore International Water Week 2010.

Cutting down on our dependence on other countries for water was an underlying meaning as well when he mentioned the need for escalation in our water production efforts.

“In her long term plans, Singapore plans to triple its current NEWater capacity and ramp up desalination capacity by almost 10 times,” Mr. Teo mentioned.

While an augmentation of our country’s water sources needs to be conducted, the ways in which we may go about doing this are varied as well with Singapore taking the approach of privatizing many of our water solution methods.

“In Singapore, the growth of a vibrant and dynamic water industry, together with a well developed and robust financial sector, has enabled us to tap on the private sector to develop our current infrastructure for water resources,” commented Dr. Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

In fact, it may even seem that Singapore has found a viable solution in the private sector given our encouraging report card.

“Singapore was able to introduce alternative sources such as reclaimed water and desalination due to advances in membrane technology. These two sources have put us in a stronger position to deal with the vagaries of weather and allow us to increase our water supply to meet growing demand,” said Mr. Khoo Teng Chye, Chief Executive Officer of PUB (Public Utilities Board), at SIWW.

New technology may be an imperative arm in our bid for self-reliance and it may seem that this wish could be fulfilled in the near future if Singapore keeps her waters clean as advised by Mr. Khoo, “With two-thirds of Singapore becoming water catchment by 2011, it is important that we keep the waters clean. This will help to reduce treatment cost while enjoying our blue assets.”

From privatizing companies to being a good citizen, it seems that the road to self-sufficiency is not a one step process and with the proliferation of research and development in this area, Singapore is well on her way to attaining her dream.