Singapore’s reservoirs are running on empty after a prolonged dry spell lasting several months. The ever-rising sea has swallowed most of the country’s low-lying coastline. These dramatic scenarios paint a bleak future – but only if nothing is done in the global fight against climate change.
National Water Agency PUB’s new campaign, “The Climate is Changing”, aims to heighten public awareness of climate change’s impact on Singapore and the need for us to take action early to protect our homes and livelihoods against these threats. It highlights PUB’s work in four key areas: enhancing flood resilience, strengthening coastal defences, safeguarding water security and reducing carbon footprint through the use of clean energy.
To drive home the urgency of the task at hand, PUB has launched a television commercial that blurs the line between reality and a hypothetical future. It depicts how extreme and unpredictable climate could result in intense rainfall that causes more frequent flooding. The melting of polar ice caps and a projected rise in sea levels across the globe could cause Singapore – an island surrounded by water – to be submerged.
An over-reliance on fossil fuels also has to stop – PUB is leading the way by constructing floating solar farms on reservoirs to power our water treatment plants, reducing our carbon footprint. Members of the public can also catch a glimpse of the campaign key visuals at prominent MRT stations and bus shelters.
“PUB’s annual water campaigns in March have tended to focus on promoting water conservation and building a water-conscious culture. With the Government launching its Singapore Green Plan 2030, we felt it was also the right time to showcase PUB’s efforts in adapting to climate change which has serious impact on our water resources. The threat is real – and PUB must demonstrate its ability to rise to the challenge of ensuring we have a sustainable water supply, protecting Singaporeans from sea level rise and flooding, as well as charting a greener future by harnessing energy from the limitless resource that is the sun,” said Cindy Keng, Director, 3P Network Department, PUB.
Make Every Drop Count
While climate change may be an existential challenge that calls for collective effort and the buy-in of entire nations to move the needle, individuals also play an important part to mitigate the effects of climate change. By using only what we need and practising good water habits, the resultant savings in energy and resources required to treat and produce water go towards reducing our collective carbon footprint.
Over the years, PUB’s continuous efforts in promoting water conservation through public education and community outreach have resulted in high public awareness about the need to conserve water, although more can be done to nudge users to adopt water saving habits.
In a 2020 study commissioned by PUB, over 60% of households surveyed are cognisant that Singapore remains one of the most water-stressed countries in the world and the tedious and expensive process that goes into treating water. It was encouraging that nearly all households (over 90%) surveyed recognised the need for water conservation, with most (over 75%) agreeing to take personal responsibility in using water wisely
Yet, those surveyed were also aware that they can do more. The most widely practised water-saving habits are turning off the tap when brushing teeth and turning off the shower when soaping (over 60% for both). However, just over a third of the households surveyed said they regularly rinse their vegetables or fruits in a container instead of running water, while only 35% shared they have the habit of regularly using half-flush when possible.
PUB’s annual community movement will also return this March to celebrate Singapore World Water Day – albeit on a smaller scale due to the Covid-19 pandemic – with more than 400 partners coming on board to support the water cause. For instance, in lieu of the usual water rationing exercises, over 60 schools have pledged to hold “Water Wednesdays”, by dedicating every Wednesday in March to holding water- themed activities for students.
Some 50 retailers and businesses, including homegrown bubble tea chain LiHO, restaurant chain Swensen’s and major electronics dealers such as COURTS, Harvey Norman, Best Denki and Gain City, are offering blue-themed discounts and promotions in the month of March. New partners such as Singapore Wakeboarding Association and Uniqlo have also come onboard this year. Notable local athletes including national wakeboarder and SEA Games gold medallist Sasha Christian will be participating in a water skiing event on 19 March, while casual wear brand Uniqlo will host a feature wall promoting water-saving tips at its Plaza Singapura outlet from 15-22 March.
On 22 March, to commemorate World Water Day, a total of 43 prominent buildings and landmarks across the island, including the Singapore Flyer, Gardens by the Bay, Sports Hub and the newly opened Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant will turn blue at night for the signature “City turns Blue” event. The public are encouraged to take photos at their favourite locations and post them on social media with the hashtags #GoBlue4SG and #MakeEveryDropCount.
PUB is also debuting a “blue” heat map to show the groundswell of community effort in promoting water conservation. The public can view the heat map and find out more information about the various “blue deals” and initiatives on the Make Every Drop Count campaign website, and watch it gradually turn blue through the month of March.