Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Water scarcity in Singapore pushes 'toilet to tap' concept

Deutsche Welle: Singapore is one of Asia’s most powerful economies, but it lacks a reliable water supply. Wastewater-reuse plants could change that by soon recycling enough sewage to meet 50 percent of the nation’s water needs. Singapore is a city of superlatives. The banking Mecca, Asia’s answer to Geneva and Zurich, has the world’s highest concentration of millionaires. The affluent city-state has a booming economy with investments pouring in.

...But the prosperity and economic boom are unable to mask one of Singapore’s most pressing problems: it simply does not have enough water to meet its needs. The city-state has to import several millions of liters of fresh water from neighboring Malaysia via pipelines. In fact, the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has officially classified the island state as “water poor.” Alternatives are urgently needed.

The water Singapore imports from Malaysia makes up around 30 percent of its total supply. With 2.4 meters of precipitation a year – the global average is only 1 meter – rain is another crucial source of blue gold. Another 30 percent come from the island’s 17 reservoirs. But digging further reservoirs is not feasible because space is at a premium in Singapore – the country is the size of the German city of Hamburg...

That led the government to launch a project called “NEWater” back in 2003. It involves recycling wastewater to highly purified water, providing a more cost-efficient and eco-friendly solution. The concept of recycling wastewater into what’s called greywater certainly isn’t new, with long-running initiatives already well underway in Israel, Spain, Scandinavian countries and the US. But with NEWater, Singapore has quickly gained an international reputation for efficient recycling of wastewater. The initiative already supplies around one third of the country’s water demand, and that number is expected to grow to more than half by the year 2060....

Singapore skyline. The floating balls are part of a New Year's celebration. Shot by bryangeek, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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