Speaking at the opening of the Tuas Desalination Plant on Thursday (28 June), Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli said that there is the need for Singapore to continually expand and enhance its water supply network.
The plant is the first to be owned and operated by PUB and will also be used to test new energy-saving technologies.
It is also the first in Singapore to adopt an advanced pre-treatment technology, which combines two existing filtration methods – dissolved air floatation and ultrafiltration.
It will help to reduce membrane fouling when treating seawater of varying water quality, as well as to prolong the lifespan of a membrane.
Mr Masagos cited the examples of cities like Cape Town in South Africa and Sao Paulo in Brazil. In Sao Paulo, a severe drought had caused the stock level of its main reservoir fall below 4 per cent, and its 21 million inhabitants had at one point less than 20 days of water.
He said: “We are laying more pipes to reach the population and industries in new growth nodes while maintaining and renewing existing water infrastructure,”.
The minister also noted that all these are “heavy, but necessary investments”, and take time, saying that these investments must also be made ahead of time and demand, so Singaporeans will not face the same problems as Sao Paulo and Cape Town.
“This is made possible by right-pricing water to reflect the long-run marginal cost of producing our next drop of water, which is likely to come from NEWater and desalinated water,” he added.
The third desalination will boost the country’s desalination capacity from 100 to 130 million gallons a day (mgd) as it can produce 30 million gallons of drinking water a day, which will help to meet up to 30 per cent of Singapore’s current water demand.
The plant spans 3.5ha, which makes it the country smallest plant, however, it can produce the same amount of drinking water as SingSpring Desalination Plant, Singapore’s first such plant that occupies 6.3ha, nearly double the footprint of Tuas Desalination Plant.
It is said that both plants can produce up to 30mgd of drinking water, which is enough to supply to 200,000 households.
A 1.2MWp solar photovoltaic (PV) system will be installed on more than half of the plant’s roof surface by the end of the year to reduce the plant’s carbon footprint.
Covering more than 7,000 sq m, the solar PV system will be able to generate 1.4 million kWh of clean energy a year, which will be used to power the plant’s administrative building.
Two more desalination plants are in the pipeline with Singapore’s water demand projected to double from the current 430mgd by 2060.
Marina East Desalination Plant is slated to be completed in 2020. It will be a fifth desalination plant at Jurong Island, which will bring the total daily water production in Singapore to 190mgd in two years’ time.