Water Journal : Water Journal August 2013
52 Feature Article WATER AUGUST 2013 Conceived in an era where water projects strictly followed the long-established and well-served paradigm for drinking water and sewage, it is remarkable that the seed for Asia-Paci c's rst forays into drinking water reuse were ever sown. Even more remarkable is the fact that that seed was allowed to germinate and reach full bloom, and continue to be reborn and nourished with ongoing care and new investment. The tangible milestones and achievements of Singapore's NEWater program could never have been envisaged by the original team of scientists, engineers and project managers. All that those of us on the study team knew at the time was that this would be special, and possibly a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to put a dent in the world. The idea of drinking recycled water was abhorrent to many people and was seriously misunderstood by the public and its leaders. This only makes the indisputable achievements of PUB to develop credibility, a trusted brand and recognition all the more extraordinary. It is dif cult to think of a water utility on this planet that has made such real achievements in such a short space of time. Not content to sit back and rest on its laurels, PUB continues to push well beyond the boundaries of the norms for the water industry -- not just in Asia-Paci c, but also the world. It is again setting new benchmarks for design, innovation and sheer guts for the water projects it has completed over the past decade. All of this can be traced back to the legacy of the transformations initiated by the of cial launch of the NEWater program on 21 February 2003. IN THE BEGINNING It is 10 years since the of cial opening of the rst two NEWater factories in Singapore, including the enormously successful -- and probably the most visited -- advanced water treatment facility ever built, the NEWater Visitor Centre. The extensive use of glass and steel and the clean lines of the building are more reminiscent of an Apple store than a full-scale advanced water treatment plant that has been closely weaved in with a visitor centre experience. Visitation to the Centre now exceeds 1.3 million -- not too shabby for what is in essence a very fancy water treatment plant! The facility is now a designated tourist destination that all taxi drivers know how to get to. Try asking your local cabbie where the water recycling plant is! Integrated water cycle management in Singapore has been fully embraced by PUB. In fact, the rst strategies and thinking about the closer knitting of the water cycle into the fabric of the city and its urban experience were initiated by the transformative experiences of NEWater. SINGAPORE'S NEWATER PROGRAM: CELEBRATING 10 YEARS OF SUCCESS A decade after its of cial launch, PUB, Singapore's water management agency, has plenty to be proud of, writes John Poon. Here he reminisces on how an idea all those years ago led to a truly unique and world-class water-recycling program. The spectacular koi sh pond at the NEWater Visitor Centre.
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