老澳门六合彩

In water-stressed Singapore, a search for new solutions to keep the taps flowing

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SINGAPORE (AP) 鈥 A crack of thunder booms as dozens of screens in a locked office flash between live video of cars splashing through wet roads, drains sapping the streets dry, and reservoirs collecting the precious rainwater across the tropical island of Singapore. A team of government employees intently monitors the water, which will be collected and purified for use by the country鈥檚 six million residents.

鈥淲e make use of real-time data to manage the storm water,鈥 Harry Seah, deputy chief executive of operations at PUB, Singapore鈥檚 National Water Agency, says with a smile while standing in front of the screens. 鈥淎ll of this water will go to the marina and reservoirs.鈥

The room is part of Singapore鈥檚 cutting-edge water management system that combines technology, diplomacy and community involvement to help one of the most water-stressed nations in the world secure its water future. The country鈥檚 innovations have attracted the attention of other water-scarce nations seeking solutions.

A small city-state island located in Southeast Asia, Singapore is one of the most densely populated countries on the planet. In recent decades the island has also transformed into a modern international business hub, with a rapidly developing economy. The boom has caused the country鈥檚 water consumption to increase by over twelve times since the nation鈥檚 independence from Malaysia in 1965, and the economy is only expected to keep growing.

With no natural water resources, the country has relied on importing water from neighboring Malaysia via a series of deals allowing inexpensive purchase of water drawn from the country鈥檚 Johor River. But the deal is set to expire in 2061, with uncertainty over its renewal.

For years Malaysian politicians have targeted the water deal, sparking political tensions with Singapore. The Malaysian government has claimed the price at which Singapore purchases water 鈥 set decades ago 鈥 is too low and should be renegotiated, while the Singaporean government argues its treatment and resale of of the water to Malaysia is done at a generous price.

A poster promoting water conservation is posted in an elevator at the Changi Water Reclamation Plant in Singapore, Thursday, July 20, 2023. Water technology developed and used in Singapore, such as portable water filters, water testing technology and flood management tools, have been exported to over 30 countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A poster promoting water conservation is posted in an elevator at the Changi Water Reclamation Plant in Singapore, Thursday, July 20, 2023. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

And climate change, which brings increased intense weather, rising seas and a rise in average temperatures, is expected to exacerbate water insecurity, according to research done by the Singaporean government.

鈥淔or us, water is not an inexhaustible gift of nature. It is a strategic and scarce resource,鈥 Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said at the opening of a water treatment facility in 2021. 鈥淲e are always pushing the limits of our water resources. And producing each additional drop of water gets harder and harder, and more and more expensive.鈥

Seeking solutions to its water stresses, the Singaporean government has spent decades developing a master plan focusing on what they call their four 鈥渘ational taps鈥: water catchment, recycling, desalination and imports.

Two bottles on display show the difference between incoming used water and treated used water after processing at the Changi Water Reclamation Plant in Singapore, Thursday, July 20, 2023. Dubbed "NEWater", the treated wastewater now provides Singapore 40% of its water, with the government hoping to increase capacity to 55% of demand in years to come. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Two bottles on display show the difference between incoming used water and treated used water after processing at the Changi Water Reclamation Plant in Singapore, July 20, 2023. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

Across the island, seventeen reservoirs catch and store rainwater, which is treated through a series of chemical coagulation, rapid gravity filtration and disinfection.

Five desalination plants, which produce drinking water by pushing seawater through membranes to remove dissolved salts and minerals, operate across the island, creating millions of gallons of clean water every day.

A massive sewage recycling program purifies wastewater through microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet irradiation, adding to drinking supply reservoirs. Dubbed 鈥淣EWater鈥, the treated wastewater now provides Singapore 40% of its water, with the government hoping to increase capacity to 55% of demand in years to come. To help build people鈥檚 confidence in the safety, Singapore鈥檚 national water agency collaborated with a local craft brewery to create a line of beer made from treated sewage.

Innovation has been possible partially because of the involvement of private businesses, Seah said.

A model shows the underground deep tunnel sewer system as a youth group tours the NEWater visitor center in Singapore, Tuesday, July 18, 2023. A massive wastewater recycling program, which draws wastewater through tunnels linked to the island's sewers, purifies wastewater through microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet radiation, adding to drinking supply reservoirs. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

A model shows the underground deep tunnel sewer system as a youth group tours the NEWater visitor center in Singapore, July 18, 2023. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

鈥淪ometimes private sectors may have a different way of doing things, and you can learn from them. Industry involvement in us is very important,鈥 Seah said.

Getting community participation and buy in has been an effective method to improved awareness and conservation as well, Seah said.

In 2006 the government launched the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters Program, which transformed the country鈥檚 water systems into more public areas. Through the program, residents can kayak, hike and picnic on the reservoirs, giving a greater sense of ownership and value to the country鈥檚 water supplies. Several water facilities now have public green spaces on the roofs where the public can picnic amid big lush green lawns.

In schools, children are taught about best practices for water use and conservation. Schools hold mock water rationing exercises where water taps are shut off and students collect water in pails.

The international community has tapped into Singapore鈥檚 water innovation as well. The country has become a global hub for water technology, as home to nearly 200 water companies and over 20 research centers and hosts a biennial International Water Week.

Water technology developed and used in Singapore, such as portable water filters, water testing technology and flood management tools, have been exported to over 30 countries, including Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal.

But not all of the solutions used in Singapore will relevant to other countries, especially those with less-developed infrastructure concedes Seah.

Despite the leaps that Singapore has made in its journey for water security, Seah warns that continued progress is essential for the island.

鈥淎fter more than two decades we are still constantly analyzing the water,鈥 he said. 鈥淲e can never be complacent.鈥

Milko is an Associated Press multimedia reporter covering the nexus of the energy transition, climate change and human rights across Asia-Pacific.