Resource-Starved Singapore Turns Sewage Into Ultra-Clean Water

20th August, 2021.      //   General Interest  // 

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Outside the Singapore Water Plant, a tank for storing processed used water. 

Singapore: At a facility in Singapore, massive pumps buzz deep underground, transforming sewage into water appropriate for human use while reducing ocean pollution.
Because the tiny island country has few natural water sources, it has historically had to rely on supplies from Malaysia.

To increase self-sufficiency, the government has created a sophisticated sewage treatment system that includes a network of tunnels and high-tech plants.

According to Singapore’s water ministry, recycled wastewater can already supply 40% of the country’s water demand, with that percentage anticipated to increase to 55% by 2060.

While the majority of it is utilized for industrial reasons, part of it is added to the city-5.7 state’s million people’s drinking water supply in reservoirs.

In addition, because just a tiny portion of the treated water is released into the sea, the method helps to decrease maritime pollution.

In contrast to most other nations, according to UN estimates, 80 percent of the world’s wastewater goes back into the ecosystem without being treated or reused.

“Singapore lacks natural resources and it is limited in space, which is why we are always looking for ways to explore water sources and stretch our water supply,”The Public Utilities Board’s water reclamation department’s head engineer, Low Pei Chin, told AFP.

She went on to say that one essential technique is to “catch every drop” and “reuse endlessly.”

This is in addition to the city-other state’s primary water-supply strategies, which include importing water, utilizing reservoirs, and desalinating saltwater.

The Changi Water Reclamation Plant, located on the city’s eastern shore, lies at the core of the recycling system.

Parts of the complex in land-scarce Singapore are underground, some as deep as 25 storeys, and it is supplied by wastewater flowing via a vast 48-kilometer (30-mile) tube connected to sewers.

The facility, which is made out of a maze of steel pipes, tubes, tanks, filtering systems, and other gear, can handle up to 900 million litres (237 million US gallons) of wastewater every day, which is enough to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool every 24 hours for a year.

A network of ventilators has been built in one building to keep the air smelling fresh, yet a rotten odor still lingers.

 

‘Limited amount of water’

When sewage arrives at the facility, it goes through an initial filtering procedure before being sent to treatment facilities above ground via strong pumps.

There, the treated water is further purified and disinfected using UV radiation, removing contaminants such as bacteria and viruses through sophisticated filtering techniques.

The final product, known as “NEWater,” is mostly utilized in microchip manufacturing factories, which are common in the city-state and require high-quality water, as well as building cooling systems.

However, it also aids in the expansion of drinking water sources. It is delivered to replenish up many man-made reservoirs during the dry season, and then flows to people’s taps after further treatment.

Singapore’s recycling system is being expanded.

To service the western half of the island, it will build an additional subterranean tube and a huge water reclamation facility, which should be finished by 2025.

By the time the extension is completed, Singapore will have spent Sg$10 billion (US$7.4 billion) on improving its water treatment system.

The city-historically state’s contentious relations with Malaysia, a vital water supplier, are one incentive to pursue greater self-sufficiency.

Since Malaysia expelled Singapore from a short-lived union in 1965, the neighbors have had tense relaations, including disagreements over water supply.

Professor of environmental engineering at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, Stefan Wuertz, emphasized the significance of other nations treating wastewater more properly, warning of significant long-term consequences if they do not.

“There is a limited amount of water on the planet,” AFP quoted him as saying.

“If we were to keep polluting the freshwater, at some stage we would reach the point where… treatment becomes extremely expensive.”