Posted 09 September, 2015 by Mandy
Singapore’s five million inhabitants currently consume an average of 1.5 million cubic metres of water a day. To meet the needs of a growing population, the island-nation’s Public Utilities Board (PUB), the national water agency, has announced plans to build a fourth desalination plant. The plant will produce 136,400 cubic metres of water daily. Reports suggest that the plant will be located near water stressed zones.
Apart from desalination, Singapore’s PUB draws freshwater from three other sources—local catchment areas, imported water, and reclaimed water. PUB has also created a water conservation programme that targets the private and public sectors. Since 2003, per capita domestic water consumption has fallen from 165 litres per day to 150 litres, and further reductions aim for an average of 140 litres by 2030.
In Mumbai, Ameet Satam of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly is advocating for the construction of a desalination plant for the city. Satam has written a letter stating his position to a commissioner at the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The request is in response to Mumbai’s recent water woes. Water levels are at a five-year low at the seven lakes that sustain the city—Modak Sagar, Tansa, Vihar, Tulsi, Upper Vaitarna, Bhatsa, and Middle Vaitarna. The irregular monsoon has magnified the water scarcity. After an intensive surge of rain at the start of the season in June, the months of July and August were unusually dry; with the city seeing only 60 percent of the season’s average rainfall (as of mid-August). Mumbai’s civic body has imposed a 20% water cut for domestic users and 50% reduction for bulk users to deal with the crisis, and the BMC may increase water cuts if drought persists.
Credit: Getty Images
The U.S. government’s Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a $100,000 grant to a California-based high-tech company, Physical Optics Corporation, to develop a low-cost “compact desalination system” for small-scale use. Jared Blumenfeld, the administrator for the EPA’s Pacific Southwest Region, has said that the grant is an important step towards addressing the region’s exacerbating drought. If Physical Optics is able to make the product commercially viable, companies can apply to the EPA for a second contract of up to $300,000, in order to further develop and then market the product.
 “Four National Taps Provide Water for All,” Public Utilities Board, Singapore Government, <http://www.pub.gov.sg/water/Pages/default.aspx> accessed September 8, 2015.
 “PUB to Build 4th Desalination Plant,” Channel News Asia, September 3, 2015, <http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/pub-to-build-4th/2097274.html> accessed September 8, 2015.
 Image from < http://www.tourradar.com/blog/tourradar-destination-of-the-week-singapore/> accessed September 8, 2015.
 “Four National Taps.”
 “‘Consider Desalination Plant to Fight Drought Woes,’” The Times of India, September 8, 2015, <http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/mumbai/Consider-desalination-plant-to-fight-drought-woes/articleshow/48862782.cms> accessed September 8, 2015.
 Tanvi Deshpande, “Unusual Dry Spell May Continue Till End of Monsoon in Mumbai,” Mid-day, August 16, 2015, <http://www.mid-day.com/articles/unusual-dry-spell-may-continue-till-end-of-monsoon-in-mumbai/16453158> accessed September 8, 2015.
 “Has India’s Southwest Monsoon Collapsed?”, Al Jazeera, July 1, 2015, <http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/06/india-southwest-monsoon-collapsed-150630100226092.html> accessed September 8, 2015.
 Nick Green, “High-tech Torrance Firm Wins $100,000 EPA Award to Develop Desalination System,” Daily Breeze, September 2, 2015 <http://www.dailybreeze.com/environment-and-nature/20150902/high-tech-torrance-firm-wins-100000-epa-award-to-develop-desalination-system> accessed September 8, 2015.