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Singapore Leads World in Water Recycling

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September 10, 2012

Singapore Leads World in Water Recycling

Goal Is 100% Water Independence by 2061

Special Report by Circle of Blue's Brett Walton on Sharon Kleyne Power of Water radio show

The tiny island nation of Singapore, despite minimal natural water sources, has become the world's leader in water recycling. With the world experiencing global drought, rapid population growth, and widespread fresh water shortages, there is much to be learned from the "Singapore Model." <\P>

Those were the conclusions of Circle of Blue spokesperson Brett Walton, in an interview on the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water radio show. Circle of Blue is a Traverse City, Michigan, based organization bringing together journalists, scientists and designers to compile and distribute information about global water resources. The organization was founded in 2002. <\P>

According to Walton, because of Singapore's farsighted water strategy, the nation is well on the way to achieving water independence for its five million inhabitants - despite a land area of only 272 square miles and the world's second densest population (after Monaco and just before Hong King).<\P>

The Singapore water model won the 2007 Stockholm Industry Water Award.<\P>

Singapore formerly obtained 50% of its water from nearby Malaysia. Because of the success of the current water strategy, the country did not renew a 50-year water contract with Malaysia that expired in 2011 (after failed negotiations in 2002). Singapore projects 100% water independence by 2061, when a separate 99-year water contract with Malaysia expires, even though demand will have doubled by then.<\P>

Sharon Kleyne, a longtime water recycling advocate, believes that every government on Earth should be excited about Singapore's water accomplishments. According to Kleyne, 1.3 billion of Earth's 7 billion people lack access to safe and sufficient drinking water and suffers disease and mortality as a result. Even where the water supply is adequate, it is often transported for hundreds of miles at great expense. Many existing water sources worldwide are no longer adequate. <\P>

The Singapore water model has three components:<\P>


  • Improved rainwater catchment. Singapore will soon have 17 reservoirs to capture rainwater runoff from roofs, streets, sidewalks, open land and streams. To further slow and capture runoff, the city is attempting to reforest its few open areas. This program will eventually provide 20% of the island's water. <\P>
  • Desalination of sea water. This is well-established technology, with high energy and labor costs. The cost is not prohibitive, however, and is slowly coming down. Singapore completed its first desalination plant in 2005, has another under construction and plans two more. This program will eventually provide 30% of the island's water. <\P>
  • Water recycling. In addition to normal sewage treatment, Singpore is constructing five "NEWater" treatment facilities, where treated waste water is further purified to drinkable (potable) standards for human consumption. Most NEWater is currently used for industrial cooling but could safely be introduced into the drinking water supply prior to final purification. NEWater is gaining increasing public acceptance and will eventually supply up to 50% of Singapore's water needs. The city is also improving its sewer and sanitation system to get waste water to processing plants more efficiently. <\P>

Sharon Kleyne and Brett Walton agreed that water conservation - persuading the public to use less - is critical to any water recycling program. According to Walton, Singapore is one of the most water conserving and water conscious cities in the world. <\P>

While there is much to be learned from Singapore, the US and Australian water distribution models are also being adapted elsewhere in the world, especially in China and India. According to Sharon Kleyne, the global leaders in desalination are Israel, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Australia and the US states of California, Florida and Texas. Texas also desalinates brackish groundwater.<\P>

"This is all wonderful news," says Mrs. Kleyne. "Improvements in water recycling could avert many water wars and save millions of lives around the world for generations to come."<\P>

It should be noted that Singapore is one of the world's wealthiest countries. <\P>

For a written summary and/or on-demand podcast of Sharon Kleyne's September 10, 2012 interview with Brett Walton, go to The Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water is broadcast live Mondays, 10 a.m., PST/PDT. Show is heard in syndication on Voice America/World Talk Radio, Green Talk Network and Apple iTunes. <\P>



Source: <\P>

Morris, S, "Singapore's Quest for Water Self-Reliance," ICE Case Studies, May 2007<\P>


2012 Bio-Logic Aqua Research (169).<\P>

© 2012 Bio-Logic Aqua Research (155).