“Unfortunately for us, it may be an epidemic to Wake Us Up.”
Water is the most common substance on Earth (Crystal, 1990). Yet, many countries worldwide are faced with water shortage (Godrej, 2003; Vidal, 2002) and water pollution (Barnes-Svarney, 1996). Back in Singapore, water security is also of serious concern (Lin, 2018). In fact, water was a particularly hot topic of discussion months ago when Mahathir had intentions to increase water price of raw water sold to Singapore (Straits Times, 2018).
According to Singapore’s National Water Agency, the Four National Taps of Singapore are:
- Local Catchment
- Imported Water
- Desalinated Water
With the opening of the new Tuas Desalination Plant in June this year, 30% of Singapore’s local water supply has been met via desalination (Hong, 2018). According to Lee (2018), the republic’s Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean has also highlighted that: “Singaporeans will never be short of water..”
But with all the affirmations, I think it’s still important for us to ask ourselves if our waterways are truly clean?
When I interviewed Mr Eugene Heng, founder of Waterways Watch Society (WWS), he asserted: “Our reservoirs appear to be clean because we have cleaners and efficient systems in place to remove litters and waste.”
WWS was founded in 1998, with the goal of rallying the public to do their part in keeping Singapore’s waterways clean and safe. To make learning enjoyable, WWS organises a myriad of values-in-action activities which are tailored to the participants’ age group. Some of the activities organised include kayaking and the River Monster Junior Programme which is catered for kindergarten children.
As a Singaporean, I must say I do pride myself on the cleanliness of our country. However, reality seems to reflect a different condition of our waterways. When I asked Mr Heng for some statistics, he mentioned that since May 2017, WWS has collected over 6000kg of trash at the reservoir as well as other cleanup sites. Comparing this number to the 1.4 billion pounds of trash that end up in our oceans (4Ocean, 2017), what’s the big deal?
I did a survey with 35 respondents between age 16 to 35 and unsurprisingly, more than half of the respondents perceive the water we retrieve from our reservoirs as clean, even before treatment.
In all honesty, I used to believe our reservoirs were really clean until I took went around our waterways on a boat with Mr Heng in March this year. I was taken aback by the huge amount of litters in the water. And among the trash that were disposed of by irresponsible humans, there were bodies of dead animals like fishes and turtles too. I wonder if parts of the reservoirs are way too polluted for animals to live in them anymore.
Despite how our reservoirs may not be as clean as I would have perceived, I am still confident that our water treatment technologies will continue to provide us with clean and drinkable tap water. However, I think it is crucial that all of us should stop taking the very convenient tap water for granted, and start playing a part by disposing of our trash responsibly.
P.S. For the full interview of Eugene Heng’s Why, click here!
4Ocean. (2017, January 20). How Much Trash Is In Our Ocean? Retrieved from 4Ocean: https://4ocean.com/blogs/blog/how-much-trash-is-in-our-ocean
Barnes-Svarney, P. (1996). The New York Public Library Science Desk Reference. New York: Macmillan.
Crystal, D. (1990). The Cambridge Encyclopaedia.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Godrej, D. (2003, March 5). Precious Fluid. New Internationalist. Retrieved from https://newint.org/features/2003/03/05/keynote
Hong, J. (2018, June 29). High-water mark for new Tuas plant. The Straits Times. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/high-water-mark-for-new-tuas-plant
Lee, J. (2018, June 15). Singapore’s water supply will ‘never be threatened’: DPM Teo. The Straits Times. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/singapores-water-supply-will-never-be-threatened-dpm-teo
Lin, Y. (2017, February 9). Challenging times ahead for Singapore’s water security. The Straits Times. Retrieved from The Straits Times: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/challenging-times-ahead-for-spores-water-security
Malaysia PM Mahathir Mohamad wants to raise price of raw water sold to Singapore by more than 10 times. (2018, August 14). The Straits Times. Retrieved from https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/se-asia/malaysia-pm-mahathir-mohamad-wants-to-raise-price-of-raw-water-sold-to-singapore-by
Vidal, J. (2002, August 22). Blue gold: Earth’s liquid asset. The Guardian. Retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2002/aug/22/worldsummit2002.earth2