PUB to spend $2b on water infrastructure

PUB to spend $2b on water infrastructure


SINGAPORE – Singapore’s state water agency PUB is investing in a new water treatment system and reservoirs, as it aims to make the import-dependent country self-sufficient in water, its chief executive told Reuters on Wednesday.


The country, which imports water from Malaysia for more than half of its needs, is building additional plants to recycle water and new catchment reservoirs to collect rain, PUB’s chief executive Khoo Teng Chye said in an interview.


It plans capital expenditure of $2 billion (US$1.47 billion) in the next five years on water infrastructure, on top of a $3.6 billion water reclamation plant to be finished early next year.


‘The goal is to supply all our needs,’ said Mr Khoo. ‘We know that we have the capacity…it’s well within sight.’


PUB has built three ‘NEWater’ plants, using membranes and ultraviolet rays to purify waste water, with another built by conglomerate Keppel Corp and a fifth by peer SembCorp Industries expected to make recycled water 30 per cent of the city-state’s supply by 2010.


Mr Khoo said more could be on the drawing board, with the capital expenditure to come from water firms and guaranteed demand at a set price for 25 years from the government.


‘NEWater plants will be the main focus for the foreseeable future,’ he said. ‘Recycling is one of the most practical ways of solving water problems for many cities.’


Demand for water is expected to grow in line with economic growth, forecast long-term by the government at 4-6 per cent, with industrial needs also rising as firms such as ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell build water-intensive plants.


Mr Khoo said three new reservoirs would make two-thirds of Singapore a water catchment in three years.


Singapore already has 14 reservoirs, enabling it to collect rain that falls on half of its land area of 700 sq km – about eight times the size of Manhattan.


A dam sealing its Marina Bay harbour has been completed and will be turned into a freshwater reservoir by the end of 2009 or early 2010, when the other two reservoirs will also be ready.


The Marina Bay will be used to control flooding and for water sports, part of a strategy to have multiple uses of land with golf courses in water catchment areas and jogging tracks along drainage areas.


‘We try to turn drains into streams and reservoirs into lakes,’ Mr Khoo said.


The island has one desalination plant, run by Hyflux. Mr Khoo said the cost of getting water through desalination from the sea had fallen sharply but was still twice as expensive as recycled water plants.


‘If there are new technologies that make desalination closer to NEWater then we will look at it,’ he said, adding the government was sponsoring new water research projects and attracting research firms to make water a sector for growth.


He said expenditure would be funded by consumer tariffs and government money. — REUTERS


Source: Business Times


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