Recycling Water: A Lesson from Singapore

We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.  ~Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia, 1732

Water shortage is a major environmental issues throughout the world.  Despite international treaties that are meant to distribute a fair share of water among neighboring nations many politicians and environmental analysts still fear wars over water may ignite in the near future.  According to TIME Magazine chronic water shortages are expected to occur in Africa and Asia.  The United States is not excluded from this problem. States on the west coast such as California face constant disputes over water usage.

Perhaps we can learn how to improve our water management from Singapore.

Despite being a small island surrounded by salt water, Singapore is a great model for integrated water management. Singapore has competed over water rights with neighboring country Malaysia.   In 1965 80% of Singapore's freshwater source came from Malaysia.  Singapore feared Malaysia may use water as a future source of "leverage".  Thus, Singapore slowly began to devise a plan to gain independence from foreign water sources.  The government hopes  rely on their own local water sources and break off ties with Malaysia in 2011 after the water treaty expires.  Khoo Teng Chye, chief executive of Singapore's Public Utilities Board, says, "We do not have any groundwater, but we do get a lot of rain."   Singapore has constructed  rivultes, storm drains, and canals to capture and make use of their vast amount of rain.  Singapore goes above and beyond expectations to keep a clean environment by purifying and recycling every source of water, which includes sewage.

Most of Singapore's water management success can be contributed towards reuse and conservation of natural resources, and from being willing to take a new look at waste.  As the number of pristine resources dwindle, the resource management model of the future may look much like Singapore's water reuse strategy across the board.  Taking the "we don't have groundwater but we do have rain" approach means focusing on what you have and tailoring resource use solutions accordingly.  The American Water Works Association provides some information pertaining to water conservation.

If all U.S. households installed water-saving features, water use would decrease by 30 percent, saving an estimated 5.4 billion gallons per day. This would result in dollar-volume savings of $11.3 million per day or more than $4 billion per year.

More statistics can be found on their website.

We can apply water conservation into our lives. Water use it wisely provides 100 tips for water conservation.   The EPA also provides public schools with tips on water conservation.  More water saving tips can be found in the Marketplace.

Tags: Asia, Conservation, Rainwater, Recycle, Reuse

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