Bigger splash on dry days

SINGAPORE - Precisely when Singaporeans should be cutting back on water usage, they are consuming more.

The dry spell, which technically ended yesterday when some rain fell in the west, saw Singapore's water consumption go up as people showered longer and watered plants more frequently.

Meanwhile, a crisis is building up in the water-starved landscaping industry.

But ordinary folk are unfazed and continue to splash water.

Mr Tay Lai Hock, chief of the Ground-Up Initiative, a non-profit organisation that connects people back to nature, told MyPaper yesterday that people here may be thinking: "It's temporary what, so why should I change my habits?"

He said there may be more usage of air-conditioning, which also uses up water.

"It will take a catastrophe to wake everyone up," he added. "We think we can use technology to solve everything, and still want to maintain our standard of living."

Since the dry spell started in mid-January, daily water consumption has increased by about 15 million gallons.

This comes from both domestic users, who contribute about 45 per cent of water usage, and non-domestic users, who make up the remaining 55 per cent.

The average consumption has gone up to about 400 million gallons per day, up from 380 million gallons per day in 2010, Mr George Madhavan, director, 3P Network, PUB, said. This stemmed from a rise in population and "economic activities".

However, he added that Singapore's per capita consumption of water has decreased, from 165 litres per day 10 years ago to 151 litres last year.

While hobbyists are using more water to keep their blooms from withering, those in the business don't have the same luxury. They do not generally use water meant for the public.

Mr John Tan, owner of Esmond Landscape and Horticultural Singapore, said: "My pond is basically dry and I have had to tap on water reserves from other nurseries. I would think that if this weather continues, most of the ponds in the nurseries will be dry in two weeks."

Mr Tan, who is also the chairman of the Landscape Industry Association, added that a council meeting will be held later this week to talk about possible solutions.

He has resorted to watering his plants once a day, down from twice. If the dry spell continues, plants may start to die, he said.

There was some respite in sight yesterday as a bit of rain fell in the west, and there was even a flash flood on the Pan-Island Expressway.

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