Water Conservation and Water Management in Singapore

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Singapore is a first-world country where basic necessities such as clean drinking water is easily accessible. Although water security is not a major concern at the moment, the country is not entirely self-sufficient in its water supply.

Singapore’s current water demand is approximately 430 million gallons a day (PUB, n.d.), contributed by the Four National Taps: imported water, NEWater, desalinated water, and water from local catchment. Imported water from Johor, Malaysia, contributes to about half of the water demand, NEWater can supply up to 40 percent, desalination can provide up to 25 percent, and the rest is supplied by local catchments. Valid from 1962 to 2061, the agreement signed by Singapore and Malaysia allows 250 million gallons of water to be drawn from the Johor River per day. It is estimated that by 2060, Singapore’s daily water demand could possibly be double of the current amount. In its aim to be self-sufficient, the Public Utilities Board (PUB) has established various ways to reduce the water demand, including water pricing, conservation, and education.


Education is a critical sector of the water management plan involving the close cooperation of PUB with the Ministry of Education and schools. This aims to allow students from Preschool to Tertiary Institutions to understand the significance of water conservation by participating in various programs that educate them on water management and conservation strategies. Starting as early as in Preschool, children are exposed to the concept of water conservation through the TV animation series of “The Adventures of Water Wally” (PUB, n.d.). They can follow the PUB’s mascot’s journeys to learn innovative ways to protect water resources and the importance of preventing water wastage.

In a collaboration with the Media Development Authority of Singapore, this animation series was also telecasted on MediaCorp Okto in 2009, targeting children from 6 to 10 years old. A learning habit study done by researchers from Brown University indicated that the habits of a child is not likely to change after the age of 9 (Pressman, 2014). This stresses the importance of early exposure to the concept of conversation, preferably with the conjoined efforts of both parents and teachers, to allow children to develop water saving habits starting from a young age.

Due to the increasing relevance of water related issues to students’ lives, the lower secondary geography syllabus was altered in 2014 to adopt an issue-based approach for students to deepen their understanding of environmental issues on the local and global scale (Irvine, Seow, Leong, Cheong, 2015). While the sub-topics of water shortage and water supply remained unchanged, water resources was included as a new topic of discussion. A major change would be the stronger emphasis placed on NEWater and its contribution to the local water supply. The Water Education at NEWater Visitor Centre program is available for students, giving them the experience of how water is purified using membrane and ultraviolet technologies (PUB, n.d.).

The new syllabus also draws attention to the various conservation strategies implemented by the PUB such as the “Friends of Water” program, as well as how an individual can contribute to water sustainability through responsible water usage. As the subject of Geography is compulsory for lower secondary school students, the stronger emphasis on water issues ensures that students are aware of the current problems faced in water management and supply. Thus, they are able to treasure water as a valuable resource and reduce its wastage.

In light of the increasing public awareness of the need for water conservation, there is a significant increase in the number of schools showing active participation in conservation programs. The number of schools that took part in World Water Day activities in 2018 was twice of the previous year, with approximately 43 thousand total participants throughout the country (Phang, 2018).

Students were educated on simple methods to reduce water wastage such as using half-flush and turning off the tap when brushing teeth. Some schools such as Kuo Chuan Presbyterian Primary School conducted water-rationing practices where tap water supplies were cut off and students were to use water stored in pails. Such simulations of water storage events are effective in teaching students to value water and not take water security for granted. This positive trend also suggests that more educators are aware of the importance of water education amongst the younger generation.

As mentioned in the earlier segment, educating students can have a two-fold effect where they are also able to bring back the knowledge learnt to guide the less informed members of the family to adopt water saving habits. The PUB conducted a survey in 2018 to 2019 on the average water consumption in 400 households (Chong, 2020).

Statistics obtained showed that the daily average water consumption per capita for households with and without dometic helpers were 160 and 135 litres respectively, which makes households with helpers to consume 20 percent more water compared to those without. This could possibly be attributed to the more frequent washing and cleaning activities, and their lack of awareness of the importance of water conservation. However, these figures still showed an improvement from those obtained from 2016 to 2017, which were 164 and 142 litres respectively.

As there are approximately 255 thousand domestic helpers working in more than 200 thousand homes in Singapore, the water usage by these helpers do contribute a lot to the overall water consumption. Most households that employ helpers are often those with children, and a family’s water usage habit would have a direct impact on the helper’s habit as well. The decrease in daily household usage showed that the increase in awareness of water-related issues through education in schools in conjunction with other water conservation strategies, on a broader scale, can contribute to bringing about positive impacts to household water practices when the young ones serve as role models and encourage proper water usage at home.


Cite this paper

Water Conservation and Water Management in Singapore. (2021, Jun 21). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/water-conservation-and-water-management-in-singapore/

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