Home NewsEnvironmental Asia Singapore International Water Week – water re-use is still key

Singapore International Water Week – water re-use is still key

Alison Ireland, Associate Reporter for WaterBriefingGlobal, provides an overview of the latest news and developments from Singapore International Water Week (SIWW), which took place in Singapore last week.

The biennial event brings stakeholders together from across the global water industry to share best practices, showcase the latest technologies and tap business opportunities. SIWW is part of the strategic programme of the Singapore Government to grow the water industry and develop water technologies.

Alison Ireland: In 2008 when Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) was first launched, Singapore’s treated and purified wastewater, branded NEWater, was indeed fairly new.

Now it covers more than a third of the country’s water needs, and plans to have tripled this by 2060 just before the water import agreement with neighbouring Malaysia runs out.

At a time when the rest of the world was struggling to shake off the catchy ‘toilet-to-tap’ aphorism (a phrase originally coined in 1995 by homeowner Gerald Silver in Los Angeles), Singapore forged ahead with its signature combination of necessity and marketing opportunism to become torch-bearers for reuse and as a result, global water leaders and a ‘hydrohub’. As publicity for Singapore’s achievement, the message has travelled far and wide and has acted as a positive example for other parts of the world considering reuse.

Overriding question at Water Leaders Summit still why don’t we do more reuse globally

However, the overriding question at the Water Leaders Summit remained ‘Why do we not do more reuse, globally?’ especially given it is one of the least expensive options for water resource mitigation.

Members of the panel, which included Diane D’Arras (President, IWA), Peter Ng Joo Hee (Chief Executive, PUB Singapore) and Miguel Angel Sanz (President, IDA), cited the success of ‘catching them young’ and educating children at all levels of schooling about water, as well as addressing the top level – Singapore’s Prime Minister recently distributed bottles of NEWater at the Independence Day celebrations, and used it for the national toast. At utility level, it is essential to ensure mistakes are never made so the water is completely trustworthy – as Joo Hee commented, this is the water used by parents to make formula for babies so there must never be any question as to its perfection.

While water reuse is commonly and successfully used in regions such as Israel, California, Australia, and Singapore, it has to date encountered numerous barriers in the EU. However, in May 2018, the European Commission proposed new rules to stimulate and facilitate water reuse for agricultural irrigation, available online. It was mentioned that these could ultimately have knock-on effects on EU food and drink import regulations, creating a greater global impetus to manage water sustainably.

The need to create a Direct Potable Reuse ‘Global Standard’ was discussed in order to make the much-needed solution economically viable as a strategy, and the WHO and IWA requested to support.

Panellists were quick to point out the World Health Organisation (WHO) had brought out guidelines last year which can be found online; the next step may be a cross-organisation global rule to which governments are encouraged to sign up, which would then have real impact.

Announcements from the show

The Netherlands Water Partnership were present in force, hosting a couple of seminars, first dealing with Circular Industrial Parks in Asia, with the aim of highlighting Dutch technologies and expertise in converting waste streams to valuable resources for downstream companies. A contract was signed between Urban Farming Partners, who have been working with the Dutch government, and HSL Singapore for a feasibility study for an urban farm at HSL’s premises.

The second seminar, on Circular Economy: Transboundary Solutions for Smart Cities, focused on the need for international collaboration and cross-disciplinary idea sharing. In May this year, the Netherlands furthered collaboration with India by means of a large trade mission, during which they signed an MoU between The Hague Security Delta and Hyderabad Security Cluster.

Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2018

The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2018 was awarded to American microbiologist, Professor Rita Colwell. She has built her career by tackling some of the most important problems in global infectious diseases, especially waterborne diseases including cholera, and was honoured for her pioneering insights into microbial water quality surveillance. Applying satellite imagery and modelling to predict cholera outbreaks, as well as using sari cloths innovatively use of sari cloths as filters to reduce contamination in drinking water, her discoveries helped to reduce cholera cases by 48 per cent in 65 villages in Bangladesh, and has also been used in other cholera-prone areas in India and South America.

Currently she is working with California’s Orange County Water District on using next generation sequencing (NGS) and metagenomics to provide  accurate and actionable assessment of  microbial water quality for both indirect potable reuse and direct potable reuse. She founded CosmosID in 2008, a bioinformatics company working at the leading edge of both NGS and information technology to advance human health and welfare in clinical diagnostics and public health.

Standards – NSF International published a new American National Standard for drinking water filters, designed to reduce potentially harmful microorganisms from municipal drinking water systems during the critical period between a water-supply contamination and a boil-water advisory – of which there are thousands each year in the USA.

The new NSF/ANSI 244: Supplemental Microbiological Water Treatment Systems – Filtration establishes minimum requirements for mechanical water filtration devices that reduce bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts, including point-of-entry and point-of-use filters, such as plumbed-in units under the kitchen sink, faucet-attached filters and refrigerator filters.

Company news

NEWBrew PUB partnered with Brewerkz, one of Singapore’s craft breweries, to               create a batch of beer made from 1,920 litres of NEWater for the show. They conducted a blind taste test including both the beer and the water; results released subsequently seem to demonstrate that 60% can’t differentiate between NEWater, while the figure for the beers is 70%. This seems likely, given that the waters do differ slightly in taste due to salts removal in the recycled NEWater, while beer involves boiling the liquid element hence removing any means of identifying recycled water.

Xylem’s new partnership with Manchester City was announced at perhaps the most spectacular of the press events, with three young footballers performing an impressive sequence of stunts to music, at the iconic ArtScience Museum while the English press team kept noisily delaying the start of proceedings by ‘another five minutes’.

An unusual concept, it represented a timely announcement coming as it did among England’s much-celebrated (and sadly now over) progress in the World Cup. The main thrust of the partnership seems to be a fairly traditional team sponsorship one, but the interesting part is the idea of using the Xylem Watermark social investment program part of the business, to promote activities such as building water towers in water-poor communities around the world to a huge audience which would not normally be aware of these kinds of activities. In terms of marketing, it may prove to be a smart move.

Aquaporin Around the exhibition, there was interest in Aquaporin finally having a commercial RO membrane, and forward osmosis product on the market. Much of the product development has been done in Singapore, via a research collaboration between the Singapore Membrane Technology Centre (SMTC) under the NEWRI institute of Nanyang Technological University, DHI Singapore, and Aquaporin A/S. However, small print still revealed the product to be under development, expected to launch in Q4 of this year.

Dassault Systèmes, the French company providing virtual infrastructure designs to aid innovative development of space, signed an MoU with the District Government of Padang Pariaman, a regency in Indonesia, to use its 3DExperience platform for a Smart City Implementation Project, with smart water component.

Suez launched their AquaAdvanced Quality Monitoring system, designed to be placed at strategic points on the distribution network, and to monitor eight physico-chemical and bacteriological parameters, so immediate action can be taken quickly when risks are discovered. Currently it is being used in the La Defense business district of Paris, with apparently 600 other contracts worldwide, according to Loic Voisin, Director of Innovation, Marketing & Industrial Performance at Suez.

Grundfos announced a new partnership with PUB Singapore, to innovate in the fields of  water treatment, pumping, and digital solutions including water quality monitoring. Signed on 10 July, the two organisations have entered a three-year research and development agreement.

Grundfos also launched a new CR product achieving new efficiency heights for multi-stage in-line pumps. This new generation of CR pumps introduces three new flow sizes, CR95, 125 and 155, and increases the maximum water flow to 220 cubic metres per hour.

De Nora introduced their latest ozone offering for water treatment. Called Capital Controls, the new ozone generators aim to find a market amid the increasingly complex water treatment issues and standards in Asia. ‘We have so far designed and installed and supported over 1,300 plants,’ commented Marwan Nesicolaci, Senior Vice President, Global Sales & Operations Asia, Water Technologies Business.

Following several acquisitions and partnerships, including in 2015 a JV with ThyssenKrupp and acquisition of Severn Trent Services, De Nora now has research centres on three continents and nearly 100 people employed in product development and R&D.

NSL OilChem Waste Management announced the building of a $40 million industrial wastewater treatment complex at Tuas for petrochemical, pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries in the growing chemical cluster. It is scheduled to commence operation by the end of 2018.

Noelani Technologies of Singapore unveiled their Stratus S200 Atmospheric Water Generator. With a top capacity of 5000 litres per day, it requires electricity to replicate the natural processes of evaporation and condensation in the water cycle to obtain pure water. Set up to innovate in providing clean technology solutions for the marine and offshore industry with Spanish partner company, Genaq, Noelani claims to be able to produce water at a cost of 1 to 8 cents per litre depending on product type, application and regional power cost.

The next edition of Singapore International Water Week will take place in Singapore in July 2020




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