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
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 
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.
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
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
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
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.
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