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Despite being surrounded by water, Singapore is one of the countries with the lowest availability of drinking water in the world. The government is constantly seeking methods to expand the water supply because it has few freshwater resources of its own and little space for reservoirs. Thus, it mainly depends on the output from desalination plants and imports of drinking water from Malaysia, a neighboring country. As a result, the government has created a sophisticated sewage treatment system that uses a tunnel system and cutting-edge facilities to increase self-sufficiency. This strategy of Singapore wastewater management is leading the way in wastewater recycling.
Let us examine the workings of this intricate waste management system.
The system’s central component is the Changi Water Reclamation Plant, which is located on the eastern edge of the city and has the potential to treat up to 900 million litres of wastewater every day, or about the same amount of water as 350 Olympic swimming pools.
Since Singapore is an island nation with limited land, a large portion of the treatment system is underground. It has a vast network of tunnels, pipelines, tanks, filtration equipment, and other infrastructure that extends as deep as 25 floors in certain areas. 48 kilometres of interconnecting tunnels transport sewage from sewers to the facility, where it is purified and piped to the surface.
Following the removal of bacteria, viruses, and other contaminants, the water is disinfected using UV radiation after initially passing through a sophisticated filtering system. The outcome, known as “NEWater,” is pure, secure, and suitable for drinking.
The facility 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 once every 24 hours for a whole year. The facility is a maze of steel pipes, tubes, tanks, filtration systems, and other gear. Although a foul odor still lingers in the air, a network of ventilators has been erected in one structure to keep the air smelling fresh.
After being cleaned, the water is extensively used by several sectors of the economy, including the significant microchip manufacturing industry on the island. It is also used in the cooling systems that control the temperature in the many towering buildings that dominate the skyline of Singapore, where temperatures are rising twice as quickly as the global average. Additionally, some treated water is added to drinking water reservoirs to replenish any evaporating water during the dry season’s extreme heat.
Singapore is growing its recycling infrastructure. By 2025, it should be finished, adding a second underground pipeline and a sizable water reclamation facility to service the western half of the island. By the time the extension is complete, Singapore will have spent $7.4 billion improving its water treatment system.
The city-historically state’s tumultuous relations with Malaysia, its primary water supplier, are one reason for wanting to become more self-sufficient.Since Singapore was expelled from a short-lived union in 1965 by Malaysia, the neighbours have had tumultuous relations and have previously had disagreements over water supply.
Singapore wastewater management strategy is a remarkable feat. It is not the only country dealing with the water crisis. Therefore, other countries should take heed of it.
Source: Share of population with access to drinking water facilities
A rising number of nations, including Singapore, are concerned about the possibility of water stress. Extreme weather events like droughts are becoming more frequent and more intense as a result of the climate issue. By 2050, there will be 9.9 billion people on the earth, which will place an unsustainable strain on the planet’s limited water supplies.
The hazard of water stress varies by geography and degree of national income. In high-income nations, 98 percent of the population has access to clean, drinkable water from the tap; in Sub-Saharan Africa, just 30 percent do. Additionally, about 6% of people in low-income nations only drink surface water, which includes streams, rivers, and lakes. Surface water is any body of water that is above ground.
According to the WHO and UNICEF, more than 26% of the world’s population already lacks access to properly managed drinking water.
Source: United Nation’s analysis of sanitation and drinking water
By 2030, UN Sustainable Development Goal 6 seeks to guarantee that everyone has access to clean water and sanitation. More action is required since the world is not on schedule to reach this objective, even if progress is being made. It’s critical to understand that there is no one answer to all of the problems that water-stressed nations face.
In certain rich nations, high-tech water purification systems like the Singapore wastewater management can be helpful, but these techniques might not be appropriate or cheap for many poor countries. According to the World Bank, to close the gaps in access to these vital resources worldwide, strategic investments in clean water and sanitation solutions are required.