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Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Singapore plans for unforeseen weather conditions

SINGAPORE : Singapore's Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said governments will have to factor in the cost of insurance, infrastructure and technology when planning for unforseen circumstances brought about by unpredictable weather.


Speaking at the closing of the Singapore International Water Week on Wednesday, Dr Balakrishnan said climate change is a "stark reminder" that "so called one in a hundred year events now occur at time intervals considerably less than a hundred".

"The point is whether we like it or not, we are going to get used to a more turbulent ride, a less predictable world, and there is a need therefore for us to insure ourselves wherever possible, and wherever sensible against these events. At some point, the cost is going to be paid either upfront in better preparation or timing, or worst, when the consequences of these unpleasant singular events occur," he said.

Thinking about security and resilience is just one key factor in ensuring the sustainability of Singapore's environment and water resources.

Others the minister highlighted include rational decision-making by politicians and integration of resources to ensure that pricing is right for water.

Dr Balakrishnan said: "We've had that advantage of not having the luxury to procrastinate or to fudge issues, but to make some hardball decisions which we have over the past decade. PUB is an integrated agency that looks after potable water supply, drainage as well as sanitation.

"The advantage of having a well organised system without cross subsidies and with rational decision-making is that we've been able to make sure that the energy and water equation in Singapore continues to be coordinated and delivered in an integrated form."

He also called on the private sector to drive research and development to improve water energy efficiency.

For example, the PUB is working with Keppel Seghers to construct a demonstration plant on Jurong Island to further understand and optimise a new desalination technology called Memstill.

The concept uses low grade waste heat to produce near-distilled water from seawater.

If successful, energy needed for seawater desalination could be reduced by two-thirds.

- CNA /ls

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