No water rationing needed yet but do save water: Masagos


Water rationing is not yet on the cards for Singapore but people should save water in their own ways, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli yesterday.

“We have not had water rationing since 1964 and I don’t think that, with all the preparation we have in place with Newater and desalination, we would have to do so.

“However, it does not mean that we should take our water supply for granted,” he told reporters yesterday at a water rationing exercise to mark World Water Day at Elias Park Primary School.

Water levels in the Linggiu Reservoir in Johor – which can supply about 60 per cent of Singapore’s water needs – are now at 42 per cent, he added. This is only slightly above the historical low of 41 per cent recorded in October last year.

Mr Masagos urged Singaporeans to change their water usage habits by taking shorter showers or by using a cup and turning off the tap when brushing teeth, for example.

It was previously reported that reservoir levels were lowest at 43 per cent in November last year. But national water agency PUB clarified yesterday that the historical low was 41 per cent in October.

Dry weather has caused a steady depletion of water in Linggiu Reservoir since the prolonged dry spell experienced by Singapore and the region in early 2014. In August last year, they dropped to 54 per cent and dipped further to 43 per cent last November.

The north-east monsoon season in December had raised water levels to almost 50 per cent in January this year but they have since fallen to the current 42 per cent.

Singapore can draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) from the river, but there were four seawater intrusions which temporarily disrupted plant operations this year.

The Linggiu Reservoir, located upstream of the Johor River, collects and releases rainwater and pushes sea water back into the sea, to ensure that the river water is not too salty to be treated by the Singapore-run treatment plant there.

PUB has been pumping an average of 16 mgd of Newater a day since the start of this month to the reservoirs here to keep local reservoir stock at a healthy level.

On recent suggestions to make water more expensive, Mr Masagos said water prices here are based on the long-run marginal cost of water, which refers to the cost of producing the next drop of water from the desalination and Newater plants.

He said: “So as long as we are within the long-run marginal cost of producing this water, we will keep water prices at that level.”

According to PUB, the price of potable water for domestic households is now about $1.50 per cubic m, or 1,000 litres, (not including GST) for households using 40 cubic m or less per month. Each Singapore resident uses 150 litres of water per day, enough to fill almost two bathtubs.

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Publication Date: 
Wednesday, March 23, 2016 – 08:38
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