SINGAPORE'S oldest water reclamation plant Kim Chuan closed its door on Thursday, as used water is being channelled to the deep tunnel sewerage system.
The Kim Chuan plant is the first to be phased out, said PUB, the national water agency. Others to be phased out are the reclamation plants at Bedok and Seletar.
The Kim Chuat plant started operations in 1948. Over the last 60 years, it has undergone several phases of expansion and development. Its capacity for used water treatment has increased 20 times from an initial 14,000 cubic metres per day in 1948 to 282,000 cubic metres per day today.
The plant served the central and eastern parts of Singapore including new towns such as Toa Payoh, Bishan, Whampoa, Kallang, Serangoon, Hougang and Eunos.
'The phasing out of the conventional water reclamation plants is part of our long-term used water management plans. The Deep Tunnel Sewerage System is a robust and sustainable used water system that will bring us many benefits such as land and manpower savings,' said Mr Wah Yuen Long, PUB's Director of Water Reclamation Plants.
International Year of Sanitation
Globally, used water management is an area of concern, with the United Nations declaring 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation. Today, 41 per cent of the world's population has no access to basic sanitation and the world continues to be off track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target to halve by 2015 the proportion of people without basic sanitation.
The Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, a superhighway for used water management, will meet Singapore's growing needs for the next 100 years. It includes a deep tunnel that spans from Kranji to Changi that is linked directly to the new Changi Water Reclamation Plant.
With the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, the land used to site water reclamation plants and pumping stations will be freed up, said PUB.
The closure of the Kim Chuan plant will see 33 ha of land (about 45 football fields) being released for redevelopment.
The new Changi Water Reclamation Plant is also designed to be more compact compared to the conventional plants such as the one at Kim Chuan.
'At the Changi Water Reclamation Plant, the treatment tanks are stacked whereas at Kim Chuan, they were spread over a large area. As a result, the Changi Water Reclamation Plant is only is one-third the size of a conventional water reclamation plant,' said Mr Wah.
All 76 plant staff at the Kim Chuan plant will be redeployed, with most of them moving over to the new Changi plant.
Mr Lip Wing Cheong, the longest-serving employee at the plant with 37 years of service, said: 'I am proud to have played a part in the history of Singapore's used water management, and to have been personally involved in its transformations over the years.'
The centralisation of used water treatment at Changi will allow for greater economies of scale, said the PUB.
'Productivity will also be improved with the new system. Leveraging on advances in technology, there will be more automation of processes at the Changi Water Reclamation Plant. As a result, for each unit of used water treated, the manpower at Changi will be half that at Kim Chuan,' it added.
The Changi plant is also more environmentally friendly as it eradicates the odour nuisance with its closed used water tanks. This is an improvement over the Kim Chuan plant which uses open tanks.
From nightsoil buckets to islandwide network
Singapore has come a long way in its used water management. It started off with the nightsoil bucket system and the first small-scale used water system was set up within the city area in 1910.
To provide modern sanitation to its increasing population, water reclamation plants and a sewer network were built. By the mid-1980s, everyone in Singapore had access to modern sanitation.
The Deep Tunnel Sewerage System was awarded the IES Prestigious Engineering Achievement in Singapore and the Asean Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award in 2005.