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The four national taps of Singapore: A holistic approach to water resources management from drainage to drinking water
Irvine, K. N., Chua, L. H. C., & Eikass, H. S. (2014). The four national taps of Singapore: A holistic approach to water resources management from drainage to drinking water. Journal of Water Management Modeling, C375. https://doi.org/10.14796/JWMM.C375
Water resources in Singapore are managed following the principles of a closed loop hydrologic cycle by one agency, the Public
Utility Board (PUB), which promotes its management philosophy through the Four National Taps of Singapore program. The four
national taps are: water from local catchment areas; imported water (from Malaysia); reused water (known as NEWater); and desalinated
water. Given the uncertainty of water imports, the remaining three national taps have become increasingly important
and this paper begins with a general overview of the innovative programs implemented by PUB in support of these three taps.
Stormwater runoff is captured from two-thirds of Singapore’s land area and stored in reservoirs for subsequent use. Stormwater
management is an important component of the catchment area tap and extensive low impact development (LID) implementation
has become a priority through the ABC (Active, Beautiful, Clean) Waters Program. Examples of several ABC Waters projects are discussed.
NEWater currently supplies 30% of the country’s demand and this is projected to increase to 50% by 2060. NEWater plants
take treated wastewater through the additional steps of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet treatment for use primarily
in industry, although a portion also is blended into the municipal reservoirs. Singapore’s single desalination plant currently meets
10% of its demand, with a second plant to be completed in 2013 that will more than double production. Also discussed are the
results of recently completed pilot projects related to stormwater management including testing of E. coli in runoff from high
density residential areas, a blind taste test and survey on acceptance of NEWater, and a survey of Singaporean understanding
about stormwater management issues.
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