SINGAPORE - Singapore has ramped up efforts to study extracting its underground water for use.
National water agency PUB has formed a team of international experts to advise it, and will dig its first exploratory monitoring wells in the next few months.
It is interested in the subterranean Jurong rock formation in western Singapore, which could hold water-bearing layers of rock called aquifers.
Even if Singapore is unable to extract substantial water from them regularly, such aquifers could act as "water banks" for drought periods, said PUB chief technology officer Harry Seah.
While there is "no timeline" for when this water could contribute to Singapore's supply, the exploratory efforts will help to prepare the country, he said.
"We are building up our expertise in the field... and if groundwater does become feasible, we will have a ready team to manage the groundwater resource," he said.
The PUB plans to install 20 to 30 monitoring wells in western Singapore and then monitor the flow of water through them for six to 12 months.
These wells will be about 5cm wide and 10m to 20m deep. Their locations are being worked out, but likely options include green verges alongside roads and other public areas.
The answers sought include where rainwater goes after it seeps into the ground.
"For example, we want to know how much of it goes vertically down into aquifers, and how much horizontal movement there is instead," said Mr Seah.
This information will be useful when Singapore looks into how much water is available, how much of it can be extracted safely and the rate of extraction that would allow rainfall here to naturally replace the removed water.