Singapore: PUB seeks various views in setting standards in water efficiency

PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, recently announced that they were seeking various views from the industry regarding the development of benchmarks and best practices in water efficiency for the building sector at the Water Efficiency Awards. Held in conjunction with the Industrial Water Solutions Forum, the event was graced by Mr Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

Companies whose WEI fall within the top 10th percentile – those most water efficiency, with the lowest WEI – or have the highest recycling rates will receive the Water Efficiency Award. Presented by PUB, the biennial Water Efficiency Awards has evolved from the Water Efficiency Buildings (Gold & Silver) Awards seen in previous years, and recognises the best water efficient organisations from categories that include offices, retail, hotels, water fabrication, refinery, schools, and estates.

This year, 27 organisations across seven sectors received the Water Efficiency Award from Mr Zulkifli for their outstanding efforts in using water efficiently in their operations.

“We are happy that these Water Efficiency Award recipients are leading the way, and hope to encourage other organisations to explore more ways to bring about greater water efficiency and water savings in their operations,” Mr Michael Toh, PUB’s Director of Water Supply (Network), said.


Industry benchmarking and best practices in water efficiency

Since 2015, large water users that consume 60,000m³ of water or more in the preceding year have to submit their Water Efficiency Management Plans (WEMP) to PUB annually. The plans include information on areas of water use. With this information, users can study their usage patterns and make the necessary proposals to improve water efficiency.

A Water Efficiency Index (WEI) was computed as part of the submissions, and recommended water-efficiency benchmarks for the building sector were developed. The lower the WEI, the more water efficient the premise is. For industries that reuse water, the recycling rates within their sector are computed.

In addition, PUB has put together a publication, titled the Best Practice Guide for Water Efficiency – Buildings, and is seeking comments from the industry so that it can be further refined as a resource for the industry. The final version of the publication will be ready in 2018. Water efficiency benchmarks will also be developed for other sectors progressively, where applicable.

“Managing industrial water use is a priority, with non-domestic water consumption expected to increase from the current 55 per cent to 70 per cent of Singapore’s water demand by 2060,” Mr Michael Toh, PUB’s Director of Water Supply (Network), said. “Data obtained from the Water Efficiency Management Plan submissions provides useful insights for PUB to develop benchmarks as well as best practices for the different sectors. We hope to consult and work with the industry to define this further so users involved in water management can gain knowledge of the design, maintenance, and operation of a water-efficient building and strive for higher water efficiency.”

To help companies better manage water for cooling needs, which takes up to 25 per cent of water consumption by larger users, PUB has also published Technical Reference for Water Conservation in Cooling Towers. This provides developers, building owners, and managing agents with guidelines and best practices on good cooling tower management, as well as proper operation and maintenance of related equipment in their premises.

“The value of best practices and sectorial benchmarks should not be understated. As part of strategic planning for the industry, they are essential for self-assessment, increase awareness on where the industries are, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and why, and what are the best ways to improve their efficiency,” Dr Cecilia Tortajada, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Water Policy, said. “They also shape user’s behaviour. Best practice guides that are endorsed by the industry can also be a valuable guidance for newcomers to build in water-efficient measures at the point of design so that good water management practices can be incorporated from the onset.”