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Saturday, 1 March 2014

Minister: Dry spell may go on for a few more weeks

THE prolonged dry weather is expected to continue for another two or three weeks, or possibly even longer because the weather can be unpredictable, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan.

However, he assured Singaporeans that “no matter how long this goes on, whether for the next few weeks or the next few months, we will be alright”.

He stressed that Singapore’s investments in desalination and Newater plants are paying off, with both water sources able to provide 55% of the country’s demand regardless of the amount of rainfall.

This technology gives Singapore “a safety margin which today we are tapping,” he said, adding that this margin was one they did not have ten years ago.

As a result, he did not currently foresee a need for water rationing, which was last done here during droughts in the 1960s.

Balakrishnan also ruled out cloud seeding for now as it is ineffective.

Reservoir water and imported water from Malaysia make up the remaining 45% of Singapore’s water demand.

National water agency PUB is pumping 35 million gallons of Newater a day into reservoirs during this period to maintain water levels.

Singapore has had barely any rain for the past month and a half.

“However, the need to conserve water remains ever important,” said Balakrishnan, noting that water consumption had gone up by 15 million gallons a day, an increase of about 4% over the average.

“The immediate plan is to reduce this – town councils, residents, and landscaping companies are being told to save water.

“PUB is also issuing water-saving advisories to 25,000 businesses and heavy water users. Singapore’s water technology is not limitless.

“We do need to conserve water and understand that the good fortune that we have now has not come cheaply, has not come easily.”

He reminded Singaporeans that they should remember the foresight and planning by the country’s pioneer leaders that had given the country greater water security today.

“You only need to look at the region to understand that people (there) are suffering and are having to confront this brutal reality (of water shortage).

“It is a good reminder for us that we need to prepare well in advance,” he added. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

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