Water is crucial to our survival, and costs of ensuring water sustainability are rising.
Water is fundamental to our survival
Water is a scarce and precious resource in Singapore.
We depend on rain as a natural source of water. We receive plenty of rain, but we are constrained by our land area, which limits our storage space for water. We do not have large rivers, natural springs and glaciers to draw water from.
Our founding Prime Minister Mr Lee Kuan Yew recognised early on that water would be fundamental to Singapore’s survival. That was why he ensured the water agreements Singapore had with Johor were enshrined in the Separation Agreement, which was subsequently lodged in the United Nations.
Our four taps
Since our independence, ensuring that we will always have enough water has been a priority, and a matter of national security. We have expended a lot of effort, ingenuity and resources into ensuring our water security over the years. As a result, we get our water from four national taps today, as opposed to only two in 1965:
1) Our own reservoirs
2) Imported water (Johor River)
Still, we cannot take any of our taps and our supply for granted. Under our 1962 Water Agreement with Johor, we are entitled to draw up to 250 million gallons (mgd) from the Johor River each day. That agreement will expire in 2061.
In the 1990s, we built a reservoir (Linggiu Reservoir) in Johor to regulate the flow of water from the Johor River. Water from the reservoir is released into the Johor River to supplement its yield, especially during dry weather, so that we can still draw up to 250 mgd. But last year, the water level in Linggiu Reservoir fell to a historic low of 20%. The reservoir may run out of water if there is prolonged dry weather.
Increasing costs of supplying water
Water should not become a vulnerability for Singapore. We must continue to invest in and upgrade our water system to make it more resilient. One particular emergent concern is the effect of climate change on our water supply.
In the meantime, the costs of producing water and maintaining our water infrastructure are rising. In 2000, our water system cost around $500 million to operate. By 2015, the cost had risen to $1.3 billion. PUB expects to spend another $4 billion on water infrastructure from 2017 to 2021. This will include investments in NEWater and desalination factories, pipelines and pumping stations, and water reclamation plants.
Revision in water prices needed
A revision of our water prices is needed to meet the higher costs of treating and supplying water. We also need to price water properly because it is a scarce resource that is not cheap to produce.
Our water prices will be revised in two phases, on 1 July 2017 and 1 July 2018. To lessen the impact of the price revision, the Government will increase the annual GST Voucher – U-Save rebate for eligible HDB households.
After the rebates, 75% of HDB households will see an increase of less than $12 a month. One- and two-room HDB households will on average see no increase. Three- and four-room HDB households will on average see an increase of about $2 and $5 a month respectively.
Make every drop count
Water continues to be crucial to our safety and existence. Despite all the effort we have put in, we will never have more than enough water. It is a constant challenge for PUB to supply sufficient water to meet the growing needs of our households and industries.
Save water where you can, and make every drop count.
More details on the increase in water prices can be found here.
Learn more about the increase in GST Voucher – U-Save rebate here.
Visit here to learn simple water-saving tips to help reduce your water consumption.
Visit here to learn more about the Water Agreements.
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