The Strait Times, 6th September 2002

"New efforts to collect rainwater from wider area"

Built-up areas can channel water to reservoirs

By Sharmilpal Kaur

SINGAPORE is pushing ahead with plans to collect rainwater from up to two-thirds of the island.

Instead of relying on traditional catchment areas, more housing estates and other built-up areas will soon channel rainwater into the reservoirs here.

Only industrial areas in Jurong and plots of land on the southern, eastern and northern fringes of Singapore will be left out, according to a map of the expanded catchment areas released by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) yesterday.

Increasing the size of the catchment areas is a key component of the Water Master Plan, said PUB chairman Tan Gee Paw yesterday.

The first plan was drawn up in 1972.

Its new blueprint, revised over the last year, calls for water reclamation and desalination to meet Singapore's water needs. About 300 million gallons of water are used here each day.

Reclaimed water, better known as Newater, will start flowing to industries in a few months' time and, if the Government decides this month to release it into the reservoirs, the blended water could boost drinking supplies in future.

Tenders have already been called for a desalination plant to produce 30 million gallons of water by 2005, and work on increasing catchment areas from half to two-thirds of Singapore has also begun.

Mr Tan said planning and design work had started, and contracts to build drains that will link up the system would be called soon.

On the parts of Singapore that will not be included as catchment areas, PUB's water director Chan Yoon Kum said: 'These few areas will be in much more pollutive areas like, for example, the western Jurong area.

'At this juncture we have no plans to capture them.'

Other projects to increase catchment areas include turning the Marina basin into a reservoir by 2009, and developing new reservoirs downstream of the present Lower Seletar Reservoir.

All reservoirs here will also be linked together so, if one overflows, water can be channelled into another reservoir, instead of flowing into the sea.

Storm water collected in drains here will also be channelled into reservoirs, but there are no plans to cover up drains because of this.

Mr Tan urged people not to throw litter into drains, as the trash could eventually find its way to the water supply.

He said: 'If you litter inside Choa Chu Kang New Town, the litter will find its way into Kranji Reservoir.'