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Assessing water security: Liang Eng Hwa questions sustainability of high water-consuming industries in Singapore

Dr Amy Khor, Senior Minister of State for Sustainability, emphasized that high water consumption industries aren’t inherently inefficient.

Dr Khor was responding to a question posed by Mr Liang Eng Hwa, People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament for Bukit Panjang, about the non-domestic sector’s water demand.

In his supplementary question, Mr Liang inquired whether it would be prudent to thoroughly assess the non-domestic sector, conduct a comprehensive review, and possibly undertake rationalization efforts.

In Singapore, the wafer fabrication and semiconductor sector notably consumes 25.7 million gallons daily, a significant share of industrial water demand.



SINGAPORE: Dr Amy Khor, the Senior Minister of State for Sustainability and the Environment, emphasized that being water-intensive industries or large water consumers does not necessarily mean they are inefficient in water usage.

She pointed out that this might be due to the industry’s nature and specific processes, like wafer fabrication plants, where water is an essential component.

Dr Khor was responding to a question posed by Mr Liang Eng Hwa, People’s Action Party (PAP) Member of Parliament for Bukit Panjang, about the non-domestic sector’s water demand.

In his supplementary question, Mr Liang inquired whether it would be prudent to thoroughly assess the non-domestic sector, conduct a comprehensive review, and possibly undertake rationalization efforts.

“The goal is to ensure that we can mitigate the risk of continued high demand, which could strain Singapore’s strategic water resources including water.”

“Perhaps industries are consuming too much that doesn’t make sense for us, and then some of the new investments when we look at them, do they make sense for us from water resource standpoint.”

Mr Liang had expressed concern about tapping into more expensive water sources like desalinated and recycled water if this demand continues to rise. Dr Khor earlier mentioned that the non-domestic sector accounts for two-thirds of the overall water demand.

Dr Khor, in her response, underlined the importance of ongoing collaboration with industries to study ways to improve water efficiency.

She noted, “Indeed, we continue to work with the industries, and the mix of industries would be something that the economic agencies together with us will have to continue to study.”

In addition to these efforts, PUB also collaborates with industries to enhance their water efficiency and explore opportunities for water recycling.

For example, wafer fabrication plants will be required to achieve a minimum recycling rate of 50 per cent for new projects starting next year.

Dr Khor highlighted that the funding cap for large-scale recycling projects in water-intensive industries has been raised to up to S$5 million.

Ms Poh Li San, PAP MP for Sembawang GRC, in an oral parliamentary question had inquired about water recycling requirements for large water-consuming companies and government support for such initiatives.

Dr Khor reiterated that starting from January of next year, PUB will require new projects in water-intensive industries with high potential for water recycling to meet minimum water efficiency requirements.

“By recycling water companies, can recover the cost of their investments over time and enjoy cost savings in the longer term through reduced water usage based on estimates, the payback period for installing such recycling infrastructure ranges from two to four years for wafer fabrication companies and less than one year for the electronics and biomedical companies.”

PUB has also expanded its Water Efficiency Fund to assist businesses in implementing water recycling, adopting innovative water conservation technologies, and conducting studies to identify water-saving opportunities.

“PUB also works with businesses with high water consumptions to identify ways to reduce consumption to their water efficiency management plants (WEMP).”

Dr Khor reminded that everyone, individuals households, communities and businesses has a part to play in conserving and using water wisely.

Heavy water consumption from water-intensive industries

Notably, the mandatory water recycling requirements for water-intensive industries will apply to new projects in wafer fabrication, electronics, and biomedical industries that consume at least 60,000 cubic meters of water annually.

Wafer fabrication plants involved in front-end semiconductor manufacturing will need to achieve a minimum recycling rate of 50 per cent, while electronic and biomedical plants will be required to recycle specified wastewater streams.

According to PUB, the wafer fabrication and semiconductor sector stands out as one of Singapore’s largest consumers of water among industrial users.

It consumes approximately 25.7 million gallons per day (mgd) of both potable water and NEWater supplied by PUB, equivalent to about 11 per cent of Singapore’s total non-domestic water demand.

Interestingly, Dr Khor made an intriguing point, emphasizing the importance of the water price structure in Singapore.

She highlighted that in Singapore, water pricing is directly linked to the actual cost of producing and delivering each unit of water, which encompasses the expenses associated with constructing and enhancing water infrastructure.

While defending that PUB doesn’t generate profits contrary to popular misconceptions, Dr Khor also emphasized that the revenue generated is reinvested to support the sustainability of water operations and ongoing investments.


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WP is sleeping

The questions Opposition should ask is whether individual households are cross subsidizing the charges to profit-seeking businesses including those energy and water guzzling billion dollars mega corporations?

Seems like per unit of water and electricity, households are they paying higher all these while?

I haven’t seen any mention about qualitative aspects or productive utility management, acquisition of resources. They apparently keep focus on quantitative talks and tangibles – NOTHING ABOUT putting their heads on QUALITATIVE improvements, how they are going to DO the ‘UNSEEN, FUTURE” developments. For eg. did they talk about population aspects of numbers tt which seems to DRAG our limited assets and resources? Next eg. do they MENTION ABOUT serious REVSION of the Parameters (what so secretive is this parameter?)

The PAP Administration Ministers are BEGINNING selling themselves as strategic long term planners, thinkers, and long term politicians here to stay even betting against God’s time table (to me they are NO BETTER than Con Artists or Comedians). Strangest of all why they STILL UNABLE TO arrest blues CITIZENS DECLINING birth rates for donkey of years. 2nd. Why did they sell off our chip plant, Chartered Semiconductor since they were tt good to see the future so clearly and PREPARE for it. 3rd. How come they DIDN’T DO ENOUGH to prepare our Singaporeans for Globalisation and Tech Advances BUT blamed… Read more »

Please shed more light on the investments

Please give full details of the investments.

So 1/3 of water users (domestic consumers, Singaporean households) is made to bear the cost for the other 2/3 (non-domestic, high-water consuming industries). Shows just how stupid this AK is.

2/3 non-domestic use!!!
Means prices are going up some more.
Amy Khor is causing imputed Inflation in Singapore.
Sack The Bugger!!!!

Singapore’s PAP needs to visit or revisit something called Comparative Trade.
It’s written by a Good Economist, David Ricardo.
He says, it’s better & cheaper to let people or the environment best suited for the job.
In simple words, Singapore needs more water but it’s cheaper to make it happen in a neighbouring country which is best suited, since we are land scarce & recycling water technology is still expensive.
In other words, KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid.

You ask these industries to come to Singapore. Then force additional costs onto them. What do you think will happen?

Penang / Selangor is looking pretty good right about now. Just putting myself in the shoes of these companies.