PUB Assistant Chief Harry Seah

PUB Assistant Chief Executive: I don’t know if water prices will go up

In an interview with Channel NewsAsia which was published yesterday (‘Need more water? PUB aims to produce more with same amount of resources‘, 4 Jul), Public Utilities Board (PUB)’s assistant chief executive Harry Seah talked about investing in Research &Development (R&D) to double the amount of water by 2060 to meet demand.

PUB wants to double water production by then, with the “same energy and waste footprint”. To achieve this, investing in R&D is necessary.

For instance in desalination, PUB has invested in electro-deionisation (EDI) technology, which uses an electric field to extract dissolved salts from seawater. Beyond EDI, PUB is also pouring resources into other water technologies ranging from electrical fields to cell membranes.

“The price of energy is going to go up,” Seah said. “If you don’t do anything today, the cost of producing water is going to go up.”

When asked if the technological innovations would help keep water prices stable, Seah said “we do our part through efficiency to drag it (out) as long as possible, that’s the best I can do”.

But water prices have already gone up. Since 1 July, the price of water has gone up 30 per cent following a second water price hike this month. Last year, Finance Minister Heng Swee Kiat told Parliament that the government needs to increase water prices to “reflect the latest costs of water supply”.

Seah continued, “Whether the price will go up, I don’t know, but we can try our best to make our water affordable to the public.” He also highlighted that water prices would depend on other factors like manpower costs.

“Basically, we have to look at it from the point of view of sustainability, besides dollar and cents.”