Singapore Thursday opened its fourth and largest recycle water plant, the Ulu Pandan NEWater plant, which can meet 10 percent of the country's water demand.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced at the opening ceremony that the total four NEWater (new water) plants can meet more than 15 percent of Singapore's water demand, well ahead of the original target date of 2010.
As an island state, Singapore has made great efforts to be self- sufficient in water in the last 40 years. It has so-called "Four National Taps", which are water from local catchments, imported water, new water and desalinized water.
"In the last 40 years, we have worked hard to build a secure, reliable, diversified, and sustainable supply of water for Singapore," Lee said, adding that "these four Taps ensure that Singaporeans will always have an adequate and reliable supply of water, and need never go thirsty."
Singapore has advanced membrane technologies in recycle water processes. "NEWater allows us to use each drop of water more than once, and so multiply our effective supply of water," Lee said.
To date, more than 300 companies have taken up new water. About 80 of them, like wafer fabrication plants, electronics and petrochemical companies, use new water for industrial processes as it is ultraclean and the companies have substituted potable water with new water.
Singapore has now used new water for drinking by mixing small quantities of it with reservoir water, "in addition to commercial and industrial needs," said Lee.
He pointed out that his country's success in this area has generated interest in other countries facing water shortages.
He gave an example that Australia is now considering recycled water as an alternative source to meet its water needs. One Australian newspaper recently asked the Public Utilities Board ( PUB) for several bottles of new water to conduct blind taste test with the Australian public.
"NEWater topped the test, with a third of respondents picking it as the best-tasting water ahead of rain water and bottled water, " said Lee.
In addition, he announced that by 2011, Singapore's new water plants will have the combined capacity to meet 30 percent of the country's water needs, double the original target.
he also announced that the price of new water will be lowered from original 1.15 Singapore dollars (about 0.75 U.S. dollar) to 1. 00 Singapore dollar (about 0.65 U.S. dollar) per cubic meter.