LKY Water Prize winner to help S"pore extract groundwater

SINGAPORE will have the benefit of learning from the best if it wants to extract underground water to add to its supply.

The Orange County Water District (OCWD) in California was awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize last month for its pioneering work in groundwater management and water re-use.

The district manages a large underground basin that supplies about 70 per cent of water for 2.4 million people in arid southern California.

The OCWD's chief hydrogeologist Roy Herndon, who oversees the basin's water quality among other things, is one of six experts the PUB has tapped to help Singapore on its own groundwater journey.

He said that since Singapore is an island, it will have to study how to prevent seawater intrusion, where the seawater contaminates the underground water. Orange County uses hydraulic barriers.

Parts of California have experienced land subsidence, where extracting groundwater caused the ground to compress and sink.

"In Orange County, that has not been a problem," said Mr Herndon. "We minimised the risk by not allowing groundwater levels to go too low in the basin."

The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize award ceremony and banquet will be held on June 2, during the Singapore International Water Week from June 1 to 5.

The OCWD will receive $300,000, a certificate and a gold medallion.