Opening remarks by Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, at the 18th World Water Congress in Beijing on 11 September 2023
Excellencies, Distinguished Guests.
Good afternoon. I am pleased to attend this Congress and participate in the discussions on a very important topic.
Importance of Water
2 Water is without a doubt an existential resource.
3 Our planet is unique because it harbours life. It harbours life only because it has water.
Impacts of Climate Change on Water Security
4 Over the last decade, the accelerating pace of climate change and rapid urbanisation have severely threatened water security.
a. Record rainfall in many countries has resulted in devastating floods.
b. At the same time, extreme droughts and heatwaves have reduced, if not decimated, agriculture yields, and threatened the supply of drinking water.
5 Tackling these challenges require strong partnership and collaboration. Collectively, we must double down on efforts to achieve a secure water supply in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of ensuring the availability and sustainable management of water for all .
6 We can achieve this in two ways.
7 First, to build partnerships and bridge divides.To protect our water resources, we must build networks of stakeholders who are committed to promoting sustainable water management and co-developing solutions for water-related challenges. In this regard, PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, engages fellow utilities, global technology providers and research institutes to push the boundaries of water innovation. PUB is also a member of international associations and regional groupings, which allows Singapore to share and learn from other countries.
8 Second, to plan and invest for the future. Significant investments are necessary for a resilient and sustainable water supply. This can be made possible by right-pricing water, which will allow us to invest in water infrastructure and pursue climate-resilient innovations in a financially sustainable manner.
9 Let me briefly share Singapore’s water story in relation to the water, economy, and ecology nexus. Since independence, Singapore has had to address our water challenges head-on through long term planning, development of regulatory and governance frameworks, and catalysing innovation in the private sector.
10 We right price water in Singapore to reflect the cost of producing the next drop of this precious resource. This allows us to continue essential investments in water infrastructure and innovations to address our challenge of water scarcity. For instance, we are building the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS), a super highway for used water that will allow us to collect and recycle every drop of water endlessly.
11 We have also built the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, Singapore’s first large-scale, dual-mode desalination plant capable of treating both seawater and freshwater. In dry weather, the plant will draw water from the sea to produce desalinated water. When it rains, the plant will utilise rainwater collected in the Marina reservoir to produce potable water, which requires less energy compared to desalination. The plant also has a beautiful green roof designed for community recreation and rainwater harvesting.
12 To address the water-waste-energy nexus, we are integrating our water and solid waste treatment facilities at Tuas Nexus, Singapore’s first integrated water and solid waste treatment facility. By co-locating the two facilities, we are able to harness the synergies from used water and solid waste treatment and leverage the by-product of one facility as a resource for the other.
13 For example, food waste and used water sludge will be co-digested at Tuas Nexus. This will enable us to produce 40% more biogas compared to digesting these products separately and will boost electricity generation. The electricity generated will be used to power the operations of both plants.
14 In our efforts towards achieving Net Zero in Singapore, we have also deployed floating solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in our reservoirs. We opened one of the world’s largest inland floating solar PV systems in 2021. This generates enough energy to power all of Singapore’s local waterworks, allowing us to have a fully green waterworks system. Prior to the construction of this floating PV system, we had conducted extensive environmental studies and built a small solar PV testbed to address technical concerns. There have been no discernible changes to reservoir water quality and no impact to ecology. Furthermore, the large surface area of our reservoirs now serves the dual purpose of water storage and electricity generation.
15 On the industrial front, we are aiming to raise water efficiency, particularly for large water users. As such, we recently announced plans to introduce mandatory water recycling requirements on new projects in the wafer fabrication, electronics, and biomedical industries. With these measures in place, daily water savings could reach 15 Olympic-sized swimming pools from 2035 onwards.
16 Singapore looks to continue our partnership with China and other countries to galvanise collective action for water security, and design solutions for mutual benefit and the common good. This Congress serves as a useful platform to further such partnerships.
17 I look forward to hearing from the distinguished speakers at this congress and the discussions that follow.
18 Thank you.