Singapore wins two awards at Global Water Awards 2024

Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB snagged two awards at the Global Water Awards 2024 held in London, UK on 16 Apr 2024. Singapore’s Changi Water Reclamation Plant (WRP) was conferred the ‘Wastewater Project of the Year’ award, while the Jurong Island Desalination Plant (JIDP) clinched the distinction award in the ‘Desalination Plant of the Year’ category.

From left: Christopher Gasson, managing director of Global Water Intelligence; Low Pei Chin, chief engineer, water reclamation (plants) department, PUB; Gerry O’Toole, director of water, Jacobs; Susan Moisio, global vice-president – water, Jacobs

The Global Water Awards is presented annually to recognise the most important achievements in the international water sectors. In a statement, PUB chief executive Ong Tze Ch’in said, “We are grateful for this recognition by the global water industry, as it affirms PUB’s continuing journey of innovation and excellence.”

Changi WRP

Aerial view of Changi WRP (Image: PUB)

Changi WRP was conferred the ‘Wastewater Project of the Year’ award in recognition of its innovative practices in reducing its physical footprint. It is one of the largest and most advanced water reclamation facilities in the world. This is PUB’s second win in this category following the Ulu Pandan Integrated Validation Plant in 2018.

Commissioned in 2008 as part of the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) Phase 1 project, the plant boasts a compact design as it was constructed partially underground. At Changi WRP, the used water treatment facilities are stacked to optimise space, allowing it to occupy a third of what conventional WRPs would require.

Its Phase 2 expansion project, which is scheduled for completion by end-2024, will increase the plant’s used water treatment capacity from 176MGD to 246MGD — the equivalent of more than 440 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The increase in capacity will be achieved through the construction of a fifth treatment train, a separate wet weather facility (WWF) and the installation of advanced membrane bioreactor (MBR) equipment.

Upon completion, Changi WRP will be Singapore’s largest MBR facility. MBR is a three-in-one solution that combines conventional bioreactors, secondary sedimentation tanks and microfiltration (MF)/ ultrafiltration (UF) in one single stage. This allows downstream NEWater processes to be simplified with reverse osmosis (RO) membranes and UV disinfection, negating the need for MF. The filtrate obtained from MBR is also of higher quality, improving the overall lifespan of RO membranes and producing less biosolids. This will help PUB achieve a more efficient and reliable used water treatment process, while also optimising the subsequent NEWater treatment process.

The other nominees in ‘Wastewater Project of the Year’ category were Romania’s Glina Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) expansion, the Shenzhen Fuyong WWTP (Phase 2) in China and Kuwait’s Umm Al Hayman WWTP.


Aerial view of JIDP (Image: Tuas Power)

Singapore’s latest and fifth desalination plant, the JIDP — which opened in 2022 — picked up the distinction award in the ‘Desalination Plant of the Year’ category, losing out to Saudi Arabia’s 3A Jubail Independent Water Plant.

JIDP’s co-location with the Tembusu Multi-Utilities Complex (TMUC) allows it to share resources with the power plant in TMUC. JIDP draws electricity directly from the adjacent power plant at TMUC, reducing the energy consumption by 5% as compared to conventional desalination plants, translating to annual energy savings sufficient to power nearly 1,000 HDB households.

Modular systems were created in different areas of the desalination process and prefabricated offsite to simplify and speed up the completion of JIDP. The operations at the plant are highly automated to reduce operator workload, allowing for more streamlined operations that can be controlled from the main control room. JIDP also incorporates advanced water treatment equipment and membrane technologies such as dissolved air flotation, UF, and RO, enabling the plant to further optimise the desalination process.

The other nominees for this award, which recognises a desalination plant for the most impressive technical or ecologically sustainable achievement in the industry, are Mexico’s Cabo San Lucas Plant and the Shoaiba 4 seawater reverse osmosis (SWRO) facility in Saudi Arabia.

Singapore’s water infrastructure

Used water treatment and desalination are key elements of Singapore’s integrated water management. Singapore has closed the water loop through the treatment of used water for NEWater production, while desalinating seawater is one of Singapore’s four national taps. NEWater and desalinated water — the republic’s third and fourth national taps introduced in 2002 and 2005 respectively — are weather-resilient sources that strengthen water security amid climate change. PUB chief executive also added that with climate change, PUB will need to continue improving the nation’s water infrastructure and operational efficiency.