By Kenny Chee
SINGAPORE plans to become self-sufficient in its water supply by 2061, partly by beefing up the amount of Newater and desalinated water it produces.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean said yesterday that by 2060, Singapore plans to triple its current Newater capacity and increase by almost 10 times its desalination capacity.
This would result in Newater and desalination meeting 50 per cent and 30 per cent of the country's future water demand respectively, "should this be necessary", he said at the joint opening of two conferences, Singapore International Water Week and World Cities Summit.
Both events will have 15,000 attendees in all, including ministers from various countries and industry leaders.
Newater and desalinated water now meet 30 per cent and 10 per cent of Singapore's water needs respectively. The Government had earlier set a 2020 target for Newater to be able to provide 40 per cent of Singapore's water demand.
The remaining water supply is provided by two other national taps - water from catchment areas in Singapore, including canals and reservoirs, and imported water.
The country currently imports about 40 per cent of its water under two water agreements with Malaysia.
Singapore has decided not to renew the first agreement, which expires next year.
Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, said that with the growth in the supply of Newater and desalinated water, when the second agreement to import water from Malaysia expires in 2061, "we can be self-sufficient if necessary".
The ramping up of production of Newater and desalinated water will help meet the expected doubling of Singapore's water demand in 50 years' time as the population and economy grow. There are also plans to increase the country's water catchment area to 90 per cent of Singapore's land area, up from the current 50 per cent.
This can be partly achieved via technology like that used in the country's variable-salinity plant, which can treat both fresh water and seawater.
But given the limits on Singapore's land, "we will have to concurrently grow other sources of water", Dr Yaacob said.
PUB has said that three new reservoirs will be ready next year, at Marina, Punggol and Serangoon. They will probably be the last estuarine reservoirs that can be built.
The increase in Newater and desalination capacity will be achieved in part by building an additional Newater plant, to complement the five existing ones. A second desalination plant will also be built, and details about it will be unveiled soon, Mr Teo said.
The new desalination plant will be designed, built, owned and operated by the private sector, to provide water to PUB.
Dr Yaacob said in April that new ways to produce water could mean higher water tariffs in the future, but the Government will carefully study any proposal for tariff revisions.
For more my paper stories click here.