SINGAPORE - With the global water system in crisis, Singapore must not take what it has for granted as clean, fresh water is a precious resource, said Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong on Saturday.
He was speaking at the Singapore World Water Day (SWWD) celebrations held at Marina Barrage and organised by the Public Utilities Board (PUB). Also present was Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu.
Mr Wong said that billions of people around the world struggle to get enough water, and within Asia, hundreds of millions still do not have access to clean and safe drinking water.
The problem is likely to get worse, with experts expecting global demand for fresh water to outstrip the supply of fresh water by 40 per cent by the end of the decade due to over-depletion and mismanagement, he said.
While the Republic’s water situation has improved over the decades, more has to be done to ensure secure supplies for future demand, which is estimated to double over the next 30 years to meet growing population and economic needs, said Mr Wong.
Meanwhile, he added, climate change is making weather even more volatile and unpredictable all around the world. Singapore is seeing more intense rainfall, as well as more frequent and prolonged dry spells.
It must therefore continue to plan ahead, build up its infrastructure, and invest in new technologies to build a sustainable water supply, he said.
Mr Wong also recounted what his mother had told him about life in the 1950s and 60s. During a dry spell in 1963, water rationing was imposed for 10 months and water supply was cut off for as long as half a day, up to thrice a week.
This prompted the Government to price water properly to discourage over-consumption, and provide the right incentives to develop additional sources of clean water.
He noted that apart from local catchment and imported water, Singapore now has NEWater and desalination - the “four national taps”.
He stressed the role of businesses and other organisations, which today take up more than half of Singapore’s water demand and will rise to two-thirds by 2065.
Over the years, he said, PUB has worked with businesses to implement water recycling projects and increase water efficiency.
From 2024, PUB will introduce mandatory water recycling for new projects in water-intensive industries, such as the wafer fabrication,...