It’s currently 2am. You stumbled out of bed after realising your water bottle is empty, thirsting for a drink.
You’ve spent too much time scrolling through the endless videos on TikTok, and you’ve already opened Instagram to check your friends’ stories only to immediately close it after. Watching Netflix seems like too much of a commitment right now and your alarm will go off in 5 hours. Note: Yes, the author is calling herself out.
Feeling parched, you head to the kitchen only to realise that the water flask is empty, and boiling a new pot at this hour seems ridiculous.
We’ve all been there. And we all know what to do.
Simply turn the tap on, quench your thirst, and head back to bed.
But where exactly do we get enough water to meet the demand of 5.7 million people residing on our tiny, resource-scarce island?
Two words—desalination plants.
Introducing the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant
The plant has actually been in operation since June 2020 but was officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 4 Feb 2021.
This is Singapore’s fourth desalination plant, in addition to the SingSpring Desalination Plant (2005), Tuas South Desalination Plant (2015), Tuas Desalination Plant (2018). The upcoming Jurong Island Desalination Plant is expected to be completed and operating by the first half of this year.
According to The Straits Times, this plant has the capacity to treat 30 million gallons of water a day, which is approximately 7 per cent of Singapore’s daily demand.
This will help to further boost our ability to be self-sufficient in producing water, especially since our current consumption of 430 million gallons of water a day is expected to double by 2060.
First large-scale plant with the ability to treat both seawater and freshwater
The term “desalination” refers to the process of removing mineral components from saline water. This might lead you to think that the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is mostly focused on treating seawater.
Surprisingly (if you couldn’t tell from the heading already), the new plant has dual-modes to be able to treat both seawater and freshwater. PUB’s director for water supply (plants), Mr Chew Chee Keong, explains that the prime location of the plant allows it to utilise both sources of water as it is next to the Marina Reservoir and the coast.
During dry weather, seawater can be drawn into the plant to produce desalinated water. Subsequently, during wet weather, rainwater will be drawn from the Marina Reservoir instead to produce potable water, as stated in PUB’s press release.
To learn more about the process of the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, click here.
Ensuring a sustainable source of water
Water has always been a contentious issue between Singapore and Malaysia. However, they too are facing problems in safeguarding water security. The Linggiu Reservoir in Johor, where we purchase water from to meet half of Singapore’s needs, had seen devastating low levels in 2016.
Though the reservoir has recovered in recent years, it was a reminder that Singapore’s precarious position on water must not be taken for granted.
As PM Lee has asserted during the official opening of the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, “[water] is a strategic and scarce resource, and also a precious fruit of our labours, always to be husbanded and used wisely.”
How then has our fourth desalination plant added to our water security?
Mr Ng Joo Hee, PUB’s chief executive, had expressed that “[u]nlike the other three taps – imports, rainfall and recycled water – it is a practically limitless source.”
Being able to treat both seawater and freshwater is an added advantage, especially since weather patterns have become more unpredictable due to climate change. The plant can then respond appropriately and draw from either source to produce drinkable water.
Apart from producing more drinkable water, the new plant is also 12 to 15 per cent more energy efficient in its operations, according to the report by CNA. Furthermore, eco-features such as rain harvesting are implemented to facilitate irrigation and the operation of water features.
Wa-ter you mean recreational spaces?
Ahh, don’t you just love going to the Marina Barrage? Plan a nice picnic, bask in the sun with your friends. Proceed to get rained on (Yes, this is coming from a salty person who has tried going to the Marina Barrage recently. Dam it.)
If you’re looking for another place to relive those experiences, then look no further! The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant provides another lovely spot for those picnic hangouts with a 20,000 sq m open green rooftop space. Additionally, the plant will be accessible to the public through the Eastern Coast Loop of the Park Connector Network.
It has also become the first industrial plant in Singapore to be awarded PUB’s ABC Waters Certification (Gold) award for its design features.
Hopefully, you’ve learnt more about Singapore’s fourth desalination plant and the process behind providing the nation with clean drinking water. Maybe think twice about the long shower you were planning to take?
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Featured Image: Keppel