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     Previous FrontPage Edition 16 Sep 2005

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Singapore's first desalination plant for water supply opens

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SPEECH BY MR LEE HSIEN LOONG,PRIME MINISTER, AT THE OFFICIAL OPENING OF THE SINGSPRING DESALINATION PLANT, 13 SEPTEMBER 2005, 6.45 PM AT TUAS SOUTH AVENUE 1

Ms Olivia Lum, Group CEO and President, Hyflux Ltd

 

Excellencies and distinguished guests

 

Ladies and gentlemen

 

 

I am pleased to be here today for a milestone event in the history of Singapore*s water supply.

 

Tackling the Water Challenge

Singaporeans today enjoy an adequate and reliable supply of clean water.  We worked hard to achieve this state of affairs, and must never take it for granted.  Countries around the world face the problem of insufficient water, and Singapore used to be no exception.  Older Singa­poreans will recall the extended drought which we experienced in 1963 and 1964.  As our reservoirs dried up, for several months we had to impose water rationing, causing disruption and inconvenience to many Singaporeans.

 

Since then, we have done everything in our power to assure our people and our economy of a reliable and adequate supply of water.  We have steadily enlarged our water catchment areas.  Eleven reservoirs [1] have been built since independence, and new ones are still being developed today. We were one of the first countries in the world to introduce separate drainage and sewerage systems to separately collect stormwater and used water from households.  Rainfall in our catchment areas is channeled by drains and canals into our reservoirs.  These catchment areas now cover about half of Singapore.  By the time we complete the Marina Barrage and turn the Marina Bay into a reservoir in 2009, two-thirds of the area of Singapore will serve as water catchments. 

 

Our efforts have been helped by the steady advance in technology.  We made a major breakthrough two years ago with NEWater.  As Singapore is 100% sewered, PUB can collect all our used water to produce NEWater on a large scale.  This allows us to use each drop of water more than once, and so multiply our water supply.

 

Today, another source of water comes on stream 每 desalinated water. The SingSpring Desalination Plant is Singapore*s first desalination plant for water supply, and the largest seawater reverse-osmosis plant in the world. It can produce 30 million gallons (or 136,000 cu m) per day of potable water.  The plant is also the first project to be awarded to a private company under the Public-Private Partnership or PPP approach.  SingSpring designed and built the plant, and will own and operate it to supply water to PUB under a long-term contract.

 

For Singapore, an island in the sea, desalination is a natural solution.  Desalination provides a steady source of water, unaffected by variations in rainfall.  With desalinated water, NEWater, imported water from Johor and local catchment water, we will have four National Taps providing a diversified, reliable and cost-effective supply of water for Singapore.

 

We have come this far in tackling the water challenge because of the determination and ingenuity of our people.  We could not have succeeded without the cooperation and concerted support of all Singaporeans, who have done their part over the years to conserve water and make the most of our national water sources.  It is an achievement that we can all be proud of.

 

But we must continue to work together to secure our future water needs.  For Singa­pore, water will always be a strategic resource, and not just an economic commodity.  Water is for us not an inexhaustible gift of nature, but a precious fruit of our efforts which we must husband and use wisely.  We must also keep our catchment areas and waterways 每 the drains, canals and rivers 每 clean, as they flow into our reservoirs which eventually supply water to our homes.  All of us 每 individuals, the community and the industry 每 have a part to play in this effort.  

 

Turning Vulnerability into Strength

Our combined efforts to deal with the water challenge have turned our vulnerability into a strength.  Over the years, our water industry has grown into a dynamic and vibrant part of the Singapore economy. 

 

Hyflux, the parent company of SingSpring, is one of the leaders in this growing industry.  Starting as a small-scale water treatment company, Hyflux has established its track record through many successful projects, built up its capabilities through R&D, and expanded into many overseas markets. 

 

Besides Hyflux, other Singa­porean companies, such as Keppel Engineering, SembCorp and Aromatrix Technologies, have also seized the opportunities and grown.  In the last four years, we have outsourced some $4.5 billion worth of water infrastructure projects, including the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS), Marina Barrage and NEWater Factories, to the private sector.  We are investing another $1.5 billion over the next two years.  The experience gained from these projects will give our companies a competitive edge in the global market. 

 

International water companies have also taken advantage of the opportunities and infrastructure to set up business in Singapore.  These companies are now partnering PUB in pilot R&D projects and technology test-bedding. 

 

Singapore is becoming a centre for the water industry, with activities spanning the entire value chain of construction, design, operation and R&D. Companies are using Singapore to test out new ideas and advance best practices in water resource management, particularly for urban environments. As our water industry grows, it will not only benefit our economy and provide jobs for Singaporeans, but also give us a more robust and resilient water supply.

 

Conclusion

In my Rally speech last month, I mentioned 11-year old Patty Lim, whose birthday wish for the nation was for us to have a constant supply of water.  I am sure many other Singa­poreans, young and old, share Patty*s wish. With the continuing support and cooperation of all Singaporeans, and the ingenuity and resourcefulness of PUB and the water industry, I am confident that we will make our wish come true.

 

It is now my pleasure to declare open the SingSpring Desalination Plant, and turn on Singapore*s 4th National Tap.

[1] Upper Peirce, Kranji, Pandan, Jurong Lake, Pulau Tekong, Murai, Poyan, Tengeh, Sarimbun, Lower Seletar and Bedok Reservoirs were built after 1964. 

Source: www.gov.sg Media Release 13 Sep 2005

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