Singapore’s fourth desalination plant, which can treat both sea and reservoir water, officially opens

Singapore’s fourth desalination plant, which can treat both sea and reservoir water, officially opens

by Audrey Tan and Ng Keng Gene

4 February 2021 — Water security in Singapore has been boosted with the opening of the country’s fourth desalination plant.

The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is the only one in the Republic capable of treating both sea and reservoir water, and is part of efforts to ensure that taps never go dry, rain or shine.

The facility, which has been operational since last June, was officially opened on Thursday (Feb 4) by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

The plant can treat about 30 million gallons a day (mgd), or up to 7 per cent of Singapore’s daily water needs of about 430mgd.

Currently, the lion’s share of water in Singapore is imported from Malaysia’s Johor River.

To ensure water security, Singapore is looking to desalination as a weather-proof source of water. It is also seeking to maximise the use of the resource by recycling every drop to form Newater. With water consumption set to double by 2060, PUB had earlier said that the plan is for Newater and desalination to meet up to 85 per cent of Singapore’s future water demand.

The 2.8 ha facility — about twice the size of a football field — can draw water from the sea during periods of dry weather, or treat water from the Marina Reservoir during periods with heavy rain.

It is the first desalination plant in Singapore to feature the energy-efficient direct coupling of the ultrafiltration (UF) and reverse osmosis (RO) systems. Water filtered from the upstream UF process is fed directly to the downstream RO process, eliminating intermediate break tanks and pumping stages, resulting in significant cost and space saving, and makes the process up to 15 per cent more energy-efficient

While on reservoir mode, the plant uses about a third of the energy required for it to operate while on seawater mode, according to Chew Chee Keong, PUB’s director for water supply (plants).

Besides being the first dual-mode desalination plant in Singapore, the Keppel Marina East facility is also the first to feature a recreational space, accessible to the public via the Eastern Coastal Loop of the Park Connector Network that bridges East Coast Park and Gardens by the Bay East.

Meanwhile, PUB said that the fifth desalination plant, on Jurong Island, which was slated to open in 2020, has been delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, although it is expected to be up and running by the first half of this year.

READ MORE: Water World by Y-Jean Mun-Delsalle

Image courtesy of BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group)

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