World Water Day Celebrations 2014 at Marina Barrage - Speech by Deputy Prime Minister, Coordinating Minister for National Security and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean
Ladies and Gentlemen
Boys and Girls
1. A very good morning to everyone. I am happy to join all of you here today to celebrate World Water Day this year. World Water Day reminds us of the importance of water, and the need to manage our water resources in a sustainable way.
Resilient water supply against dry spell
2. This is a timely reminder, especially since Singapore is currently experiencing one of its longest dry spells on record. You would have noticed how brown the grass is. I visited MacRitchie Reservoir about two weeks ago, and noticed that the water level is lower than usual. Many ponds, including the one in our Botanic Gardens, are drying up.
3. Yet, many of us still go about our daily life without feeling the impact of the dry spell significantly. We still expect water to flow when we turn on the tap. And it does.
4. This is possible only because the Government recognised that Water Security was an existential issue for Singapore. Our leaders knew that we had to look ahead, and plan on a long-term basis. We were prepared to experiment and invest in new ideas to ensure our water security. The search for and investment in water solutions started in the 1970s, and it was only a decade ago when membrane technology had advanced to an economically viable stage that NEWater and desalination were introduced as our third and fourth National Taps. These two sources of water can now meet up to 55 per cent of Singapore’s water needs. During this dry spell, PUB has been running the NEWater and desalination plants at near-full capacity and NEWater is being pumped into our reservoirs to maintain the reservoir stock levels. It is prudent for us to be prepared for the possibility of a prolonged dry spell.
5. The current dry spell is an extreme weather event. Scientists have warned that extreme weather events could take place more often in future unless the world reduces its greenhouse gas emissions. Therefore, Singapore is working with the international community to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. We are also taking measures to enhance our resilience to climate change. Our four National Taps constitute an important part of our resilience measures.
Water conservation – Everyone can play a part
6. To stretch our water resources, we all need to do more to reduce water usage. Let’s take immediate steps to cut down non-essential water usage by stopping leaks promptly, and unless it is really necessary, cutting down on washing vehicles, and watering of plants and turf.
7. Each of us can save water just by making some small adjustments. Save 9 litres of water just by taking one minute less in the shower. Use water from a mug instead of a running tap while brushing your teeth. Wash clothes on a full load. Or re-use rinse water from the washing machine for flushing. When added up, these savings will help stretch our water resources further.
8. Beyond what each of us does to save water, over 200 community partners are reaching out to more than 200,000 people to spread the message of water conservation all over Singapore this year. Stallholders at Haig Road Market & Food Centre took simple steps to save water that led to a reduction in their water bills, and put up stickers at the stalls to encourage patrons to conserve water. Watsons has been giving out collaterals and attaching stickers with water saving tips on its products, to raise awareness about water conservation. Over 10,000 youths from the three ITE campuses have designed badges with water conservation messages, which will be distributed to the community.
9. These are commendable community efforts. We want everyone to make water conservation a way of life. Today, the average water consumption per person stands at 151 litres per person per day. Our aim is to lower this to 147 litres by 2020. It is possible to achieve this target if we continue to practise good water saving habits at home and at the community level.
Saving energy for water
10. The theme chosen by the United Nations for this year’s World Water Day is Water and Energy. This is very apt because our water challenge is also an energy challenge, and vice versa. Our desalination and NEWater plants are resilient to changes in weather, but most of you would know that they use more energy to produce water than our other two taps. What is less obvious to most people is that besides production, it also takes a lot of energy to pump water around, whether in its raw form from the reservoir to the treatment plant, or in its treated form for use.
11. Therefore, through our own behavior to conserve water or to save energy, we can increase the resilience of our water supply, save energy, and help to lower our carbon footprint.
Working together for Water
12. As we mark World Water Day, it is timely to remember the importance of water, and the progress that Singapore has made in our water supply since the 1960s, when water rationing was last carried out. Let us all do our part to save water, and spread the message of water conservation. Let us also work towards more innovative solutions that conserve both water and energy. Together, we can create a more sustainable Singapore for the future.
13. Thank you.
Source: Ministry of Home Affairs