Water & Wastewater Asia Mar/Apr 2018

WATER & WASTEWATER ASIA March / April 2018 With no natural resources of its own when it gained independence, Singapore has dedicated much of its efforts into achieving water security and sustainability. Now, the nation is known for its water solutions and constant innovation in the arena. hen one mentions t h e p h a s e , “ i nnovat i on and creativity in the water sector,” there are few who may not mention Singapore. After all, the tiny city- state strategically situated along l u c r a t i v e t r a d i n g r o u t e s in Southeast Asia faced the daunting challenge of achieving water sustainability without the benefit of having any natural resources. Singapore’s National Water Age n c y, PUB , r o s e t o t h e challenge, investing in research and development (R&D) to cultivate innovative water solutions that not only secured water for the nation, it was of such high quality that anyone can drink water safely straight from the tap. At ESSEC Business School’s recent iMagination Week, Water & Wastewater Asia decided to delve Singapore, a recognised global hub for water solutions, has made several large, critical steps in achieving water sustainability into Singapore’s journey to realising water security and sustainability. There, we had the privilege of sitting down with Mr Harry Seah, PUB’s Assistant Chief Executive (Future Systems and Technology), to understand how far innovation and creativity brought the nation in economic terms. Background In Singapore, water has always been an existential issue. And when the country first gained independence in 1965, the issue very quickly came to the fore. “We had a burgeoning population living on an island of about 650 square kilometres, surrounded by seawater, and lacking natural aquifers and land to collect and store rainwater,” Mr Seah explained. “Older Singaporeans will remember the early days of water rationing when there were extended dry spells.” The country was dependent on water imported from neighbouring Malaysia, a situation that turned dangerous when theMalaysian Prime Minister at that time, Tunku Abdul Rahman threatened to cut off the water supply. That was when the Prime Minister of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew – who had also lived through the time in the SecondWorldWar when invading Japanese troops bombed the water supply pipeline stretching fromJohor, Malaysia, to Singapore – decided that the tiny country would achieve water sustainability. Economically speaking After slightly more than fifty years of independence, the fact that Singapore has become a global hub for water solutions is remarkable, considering the nation’s early years were filled with environmental challenges such as flooding as well as sanitation and pollution issues.