From: Associated Press
Published September 13, 2005 12:00 AM

Singapore To Open First Desalination Plant in Bid for Water Self-Sufficiency

SINGAPORE — For decades, Singapore has relied on Malaysia to supply a huge portion of a vital resource: water.


But the two neighbors sometimes disagree, and resource-scarce Singapore wants to be less reliant. Aiming for self-sufficiency in water, Singapore says its first desalination plant -- billed as one of the biggest in the world -- will meet at least 10 percent of the nation's water needs.


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong planned to open the facility with fanfare late Tuesday.


Singapore is also hosting an international forum this week on desalination and water reuse, attended by more than 700 delegates from 42 countries, including some from the Middle East.


The plant, worth 200 million Singapore dollars (US$119 million; euro96.65 million), will churn out 136,380 cubic meters (4,815,678 cubic feet) of potable water from seawater daily. The fresh water will be pumped into the city-state's mains, which are currently supplied from catchment areas, recycled sewage and Malaysian imports.


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Singapore imports half its water from Malaysia, and has made self-sufficiency in water into a national priority amid a dispute with its neighbor over how much it should pay for the imports. The city-state's water agreements with Malaysia expire by 2061.


At the desalination plant, dissolved salts in seawater are extracted by forcing the water through plastic membranes with microscopic pores. Silt is removed by dousing the seawater with chemicals that coagulate the particles.


In 2003, Singapore started recycling and purifying sewage water to boost supply.


The country's environment minister, Yaacob Ibrahim, has said Singapore wants to turn 90 percent of its main island into fresh water catchment areas.


The plant was built by Hyflux, a Singapore-based water treatment company, and Ondeo, its French partner. Hyflux is contracted to operate the plant for the next twenty years.


Source: Associated Press


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