Haze does not affect our water supply

Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and Mr Ooi Keat Guan,Deputy Director-Singapore Work Central Water Supply (Plants) Department,PUB.

SINGAPORE - Worried that the haze may affect the water you drink, cook and bathe in? Well, don't be.

The haze has not affected Singapore's reservoirs, said the national water agency PUB, who stepped up checks in the past week and found no difference in both raw and treated water.

Particulate matter smaller than 0.02 microns (measure of length) will be filtered out by the membrane, explained Mr Ooi Keat Guan, PUB's deputy director of water supply (Plants).

This is much smaller than the PM10 or PM2.5 found in haze, which refers to particles that are smaller than 10 and 2.5 microns respectively.

Our water supply, too, will be unaffected even if the haze situation turns worse, the Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said during a visit to Chestnut Avenue Waterworks on Wednesday.

The dry weather between June 17 and 24 did not affect Singapore's water supply.

"With our diversified water sources, Singapore has increased flexibility to draw on sources, such as NEWater and desalination, which are not dependent on rainfall," said a PUB spokesman.

The water plant at Chestnut Avenue supplies almost one-third of the water supply in Singapore.

It is highly automated and self-sufficient, with its own power supply and stockpile of fuel and chemicals like chlorine, said Dr Balakrishnan.

"As far as water supply and PUB are concerned, there is no such thing as a stop-work order.

Whatever happens, water will continue to flow from your tap, and it will be good and safe to drink."

But some services like public cleaning, dengue inspections and waste collection may slow down if the haze worsens.

Dr Balakrishnan said that if the 24-hour PSI goes beyond the hazardous range of 300, these services will be scaled down.

For instance, in the worst-case scenario, there may not be daily waste collection in private estates.

Inspections

The ongoing dengue epidemic, however, means that inspections have been stepped up. There have been three dengue deaths so far and 11,217 cases this year.

If the haze worsens, indoor house checks will continue but prolonged outdoor checks will be reduced.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "We are dealing with two crises simultaneously. We are still in the danger period for dengue, with more than 800 cases a week. It is still a source of concern.

"Our dengue inspectors cannot take a respite. Despite the haze, they have to continue working."

The minister also appealed for Singaporeans to cooperate with the officers and to take necessary precautions, especially if they are living in a hot spot.

linheng@sph.com.sg

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