Dialogue session brings up ideas to conserve water

About 40 participants at a dialogue session on water conservation have suggested ways to help to save water.

Some ideas raised at a dialogue on water conservation on Sunday (Jan 24) included increasing the price of water, or equipping homes with devices to monitor water usage.

The dialogue involved about 40 youths, members of non-governmental organisations and industry leaders. The session, hosted by Environment and Water Resources ministry, is part of the ongoing SGfuture conversations, which provides Singaporeans with a platform to come together to share their views, aspirations and ideas for the future.

Singapore consumes 400 million gallons of water daily, the equivalent of 730 Olympic-sized swimming pools. About 45 per cent of this is from domestic use, as the average Singaporean uses 150 litres of water a day. Industries make up the remaining 55 per cent of demand.

At the dialogue, Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli said that the nation needs to look at how it can cope with water demands in the long run, alongside the challenges of climate change.

Some solutions which participants came up with included equipping households with devices to view water consumption patterns in real-time. Some proposed educating the younger generation who have never undergone water rationing as well.

“Even though subconsciously we do think that it is important, but we don’t really feel the pinch and the need, the very urgent need to save water when it comes out of taps so I think the solution to that is really how to bring the cost more upfront, like real-time scenarios of what happens when there is no water,” explained Chai Ning, a participant at the dialogue session.

There was also a proposal to increase the price of water. Currently, PUB charges S$2 for every 1,000 litres of water.

Said Ashokan Ramakrishnan, a participant: “In my home, water is the lowest cost item in my utility bills. And at that point, it’s such a low amount it’s difficult to make change. If there is a higher cost, it will force people to a point of discomfort and force us to change. The challenge here is around helping people understand how much they use and with that data available, people can make their own choices on how they want to change.”

However, that is not a path the government wants to take.

“I hope we don’t have to take tougher measures. But certainly like the episode the haze gave to us where air has always been free and then when it becomes polluted for a long time, we suddenly become more aware of how valuable it has been,” said Mr Masagos.

“We are pricing our water based on the long run marginal cost and because of that and the sources of supply, we are able to price it as cheap as possible, in fact, it is really cheap and therefore unfortunately because it is really cheap, people don’t understand or cannot connect to the value it brings to us.”

The ministry hopes sessions like these will spark more ground-up initiatives so citizens can take ownership of their water needs.

Source: Channel News Asia