SINGAPORE: The government will ramp up infrastructure to create a self—sufficient and sustainable environment, through projects such as the second phase of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System, and the second desalination plant in Tuas.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, shared these details in his ministry’s Committee of Supply debate speech on Tuesday.
The first phase of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System was completed in 2008. The 48—kilometre "superhighway for used water" comprises a network of tunnels, link sewers and pipes from Kranji to Changi, with a centralised water reclamation plant in Changi.
In Parliament, Dr Balakrishnan announced that work on Phase Two of the system would begin soon.
The 18—km network, scheduled to be completed by 2022, will serve the western part of Singapore, and come equipped with a new water reclamation plant in Tuas. The plant will come with integrated NEWater facilities.
Dr Balakrishnan said Phase Two will further improve Singapore’s overall recycling rate and enhance Singapore’s water sustainability.
He also said the second desalination plant in Tuas is due to be completed in July.
The first was the SingSpring Desalination Plant, which opened in 2005.
Dr Balakrishnan said the second desalination plant would add another 70 million gallons of water a day, and in the long run, would meet about a quarter of the nation’s total water demand.
He said: "Today, we have the four national taps and we are in a secure position. I can give an assurance to the House, we’ll certainly be water independent well before the expiry of the last agreement with Malaysia.
"I can even go even further than that and assure Ms Faizah Jamal, that in fact water is not going to be the limiting factor. You can produce as many babies as you like, you can build as many houses as you like, water will not be limiting factor. We can produce more than enough water for Singapore for the long—term future."
He also gave an update on water prices.
"The key variable in the future for the cost of water is the cost of energy. So, I cannot predict what the future cost of water would be, without knowing what the cost of energy would be," Dr Balakrishnan said.
"But what I can say is on our current trajectory, and with the hard work that’s been done by PUB, there is no need to raise water prices this year," he said.
Dr Balakrishnan also said construction on Phase Two of the Semakau landfill will begin in January 2014 and should be completed in the first quarter of 2015, adding that the landfill space is "good to go" until 2035.
The government will also start work on five new Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters projects this year, including projects at Sungei Tampines and Kallang River section near St Andrew’s school.
Apart from ramping up infrastructure, the government is also enhancing air and water quality standards.
For example, it will impose internationally recognised Euro V emission standards for new diesel vehicles starting January 2014.
In addition, the government will also encourage the early turnover of older, more polluting commercial vehicles of Pre—Euro or Euro I emission standards, in a bid to reduce the emissions of fine Particulate Matter of 2.5 microns (PM2.5).
Dr Balakrishnan said: "It is the stuff that you don’t see that is more dangerous, because PM2.5 is inhaled deeply into the lungs, embedded into the tissues, and often never leaves the body. Vehicles account for 57 per cent of all PM2.5 that we have in Singapore."
He said there are about 38,000 vehicles that are of Pre—Euro or Euro I emission standards.
Emission standards for motorcycles will also be revised to Euro III from October 2014.
Dr Balakrishnan added that his ministry will continue to make recycling facilities more convenient for households, by enhancing recycling infrastructure in neighbourhoods.
He noted that although household recycling in Singapore remains poor, a recent nationwide study revealed that most households actually want to recycle, but do not do so for various reasons.
He said: "I want to agree with Ms Penny Low’s suggestion about trying to promote a less wasteful culture, a more sharing culture. And this concept about reduce, reuse, recycle —— it used to be in our value system.
"I think most of us can remember our parents saying "Don’t waste!", but somehow maybe as we became more prosperous, we’ve forgotten that imperative. I think in the future, the era of cheap energy, cheap resources, cheap food, are going to come to an end and we will have to rediscover the wisdom of our grandmothers, of not wasting. But having said that, I also support your idea that we can promote more community generated solutions for this."
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