Keppel and PUB break ground for Singapore’s very first dual-mode desalination plant

Taking advantage of its close proximity to the sea and Marina reservoir to enhance water supply resilience, the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is set to be a lush green gem along the Eastern Park Connector Network. Recently, Keppel Infrastructure Holdings Pte Ltd and PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, revealed its innovative design at its groundbreaking ceremony held at the Marina Barrage.

While it is not the country’s first desalination plant, it is the first dual-mode desalination plant in Singapore that can treat both freshwater and seawater. Depending on the weather conditions – wet or dry – the water is channelled either from either the reservoir, or the sea, to the plant, where it will be treated.

Keppel signed the 25-year Water Purchase Agreement through Marina East Water Pte Ltd, its wholly-owned subsidiary, with PUB in January 2017. The plant is set to be completed by 2020, and will feature a sleek contemporary design that breaks away from conventional water treatment plants, instead offering 20,000sqm of gently sloping open green space on its rooftop for community recreation while the treatment facilities will be located underground.

The desalination plant will also incorporate environmentally-friendly features such as rainwater harvesting, which will irrigate the green roof and support the facility’s water features and landscaping needs.

“Over the years, we have been making investments in desalination plants to bolster our water security,” Ng Joo Hee, CEO of PUB, said. “As a source independent of weather, desalinated water is capable of strengthening out water supply resilience, especially against prolonged dry spells and droughts. We aim to triple its capacity to meet up to 30 per cent of our water needs by 2060.”

Desalinated water is one of Singapore’s key pillars of water supply, with the other three being local catchments, imported water and NEWater.

Currently, the tiny nation boasts two desalination plants with a total capacity of 100 million gallons (378 million litres) a day, with another three desalination plants in the pipeline; the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is one of them, with a production capacity of 30 million gallons (113 million litres) of drinking water a day.

“We are pleased to unveil the design of the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant and mark another first in Singapore. Not only is this the first desalination plant in Singapore capable of treating both seawater and freshwater, the plant’s design also blends seamlessly into the environment, allowing the public to enjoy the green space above the plant along with the surrounding greenery,” Dr Only Tiong Guan commented. “By challenging conventional ideas of a desalination plant and re-imagining how an infrastructure facility should look and function, Keppel Infrastructure aims to demonstrate that engineering and design excellence can go hand-in-hand as we push for sustainable urbanisation.”