Singapore's World Water Day activities will have greater significance than usual when they take place tomorrow, as the country's unprecedented dry spell continues.
Organisers are targeting a record 200,000 people, compared with about 35,000 last year, as they try to drive home the message of saving water.
"We should not be complacent," said national water agency PUB's chief executive Chew Men Leong on Thursday as he chaired a media briefing for the annual event.
Noting that 2014 might be an El Nino year that could extend the dry weather beyond this month, he added: "We need to prepare ourselves for a continuation of the dry spell... It's critical that all of us play a part to conserve and save water."
Though World Water Day is on March 22, Singapore is marking it a week earlier to avoid the school holiday week.
For the first time, PUB has contacted all 87 constituencies and 890 schools to ask for their help in spreading the water conservation message. More than 200 businesses, schools, societies, grassroots groups, government agencies and even religious groups will take part in the various activities.
Geylang Serai constituency is offering incentives. It will reward the first 200 of its households who cut their water bill by $2 - equivalent to 1,000 litres - in consecutive months with a $5 FairPrice voucher.
Meanwhile, Haig Road Market and Food Centre hawkers took part in a water-saving contest that saved more than 17,000 litres, with the winner taking home a PUB hamper.
Pre-school children in kindergartens are being taught habits such as turning off the shower while soaping. Water saving messages will be included in sermons at all 69 mosques today.
Tomorrow, Cabinet ministers and MPs will join 17,500 people at Marina Barrage, Jurong Lake, Geylang River, Punggol Waterway and Yishun Pond for various activities such as mass walks and cycling.
Water usage has hovered between 4 per cent and 5 per cent above average "for the past couple of weeks", said Mr Chew.
He would not be drawn on what options PUB is considering if the trend continues, adding that the nation's water situation is still "reasonably secure".
Last month was the country's driest in 145 years. Singapore's desalination and Newater plants have been running at near-full capacity for a month, producing about 55 per cent of the nation's water. PUB has been pumping Newater into reservoirs since January to keep water levels up.
"How long we're able to last depends on how well we can stretch our water resources and that's exactly why we need to... get everybody to save water," said Mr Chew.
The PUB is also still mulling over holding water rationing exercises as a "good idea" to educate the public, he added.
"Everybody understands that we are in an unprecedented situation," he said, urging people to save water and cut non-essential use.
"We will see how people respond. If (they) see the urgency... if they start taking action today, tomorrow, I think we can start seeing effects. It really depends on everybody playing their part."
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