PUB calls for water to be conserved amid dry spell

SINGAPORE - National water agency PUB has been urging businesses and home owners to use less water, as Singapore goes through one of its longest periods of dry weather.

In the past two weeks, PUB has begun to issue 25,000 advisories to heavy water users such as shopping malls, hotels, wafer fabrication plants and landscaping firms.

The advisories urge them, for example, to clean areas using water only when necessary, reuse water for non-drinking uses whenever possible, and to switch off water features like fountains.

It has also sent advice to nearly 400 home owners with high water consumption, offering tips such as taking showers within five minutes, putting thimbles on taps, and washing vegetables in a filled sink rather than under a running tap.

In the coming weeks, it will organise a series of roadshows in schools and malls to press home the message of water conservation.

PUB 3P Network director George Madhavan noted that Singapore now has 17 reservoirs compared to just three in the 1960s, and "a more diversified" water supply with Newater and desalinated water.

But, he said, "We do not know how long this dry spell will last. All of us have to play our part to conserve water and make every drop count."

Singapore has seen barely any rainfall since the middle of January, apart from isolated and brief showers earlier last month.

Town councils are also being asked not to use water unnecessarily for cleaning, by cutting down on the use of water jets.

At least one town council has taken heed. Member of Parliament for Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC Zainal Sapari wrote on Facebook yesterday morning that he has asked the town council to suspend the monthly block washing.

"(A) dirty block is an irritation but using precious water for this purpose is not wise given the dry spell we are experiencing," he wrote. Meanwhile, The Straits Times understands that the National Parks Board has, for several years, stopped the routine watering of most plants in order to conserve water.

But to help newly planted saplings and significant trees, such as Heritage Trees, cope with the dry weather, it has started watering them with water that is not meant for drinking.

"Certainly, as far as the grass is concerned, we will have to let it go brown," said Minister for The Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday morning.

"We can't afford to pour... water just to keep our lawns looking green. We will have to accept a certain amount of dryness, a certain amount of brownness even."

Every drop of water is precious, he added, and the dry spell is "a stark reminder" of that.

He called on Singaporeans to conserve water in everyday activities, such as when taking a shower or washing clothes.

"We can and we should conserve water," he said.

"If we all do our part, there will be no disruption to our lives."

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