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In Singapore, sewage makes up 30% water supply

world Updated: Feb 21, 2012 02:03 IST
Aloke Tikku

Treated sewage water accounts for 30% of Singapore's water supply and has come to symbolise the city-state's freedom from dependence on neighbouring Malaysia for raw water.

Singapore calls it NeWater, one of the four sources of water for the city-state. For a country less than half of Delhi's size, about 50% of Singapore's demand for water will be met by NeWater by 2061 when the second agreement with Malaysia for supply of raw water will expire.

George Madhavan, director at the Public Utilities Board (PUB), says that by 2061, Singapore will have enough specialised plants - that clean and purify water using micro-filters, reverse osmosis and then put it through ultraviolet - to supply 50% of its demand.

The rest will come from desalination plants and local water reservoirs that are already connected to 7,000 km of drains.

"This ensures that every drop of rain that lands on our soil is channelled into the 17 reservoirs," he said. The drainage system covers two-thirds of Singapore and is set for an expansion to cover 90% of the 714 sq km land area by 2060.

Madhavan says the key to Singapore's strategy was to ensure that "every drop of water that is used by people, we try to collect it back. Every drop means every drop".

"If you drink the water, it goes to the toilet. We get it back…. In some sense, we are renting you the water for use," he added.

The other key component of Singapore's strategy has been to price water as a strategic resource - 1,000 litres of water costs about R60 in Singapore as against R10 in Delhi - and put an efficient system in place that does not allow leakages.

As compared to cities such as Delhi where utilities get a revenue for only 50% of the water supplied, Madhavan says PUB's leakages did not exceed 2%.