All it takes is a glance at Singapore’s water conservation strategy to realize the city-state understands the importance of conserving water. Singapore seems to have a better grasp on water conservation than even California, a state that has suffered six long years of drought and has become one of America's conservation leaders.
Singapore’s water demand is about 430 million gallons daily, but it's likely to double by 2061 when its current water agreement with Malaysia runs out, Motherboard contributor Meredith Rutland Bauer wrote in an analysis published last week.
The government wants to reduce domestic water consumption from the current 151 liters to 147 liters per person, per day by 2020. So, lawmakers want to make every resident aware of the need for water conservation. As Singapore’s national water agency, PUB, states on its website: “Every drop counts, every contribution matters, no matter how big or small.”
Singapore's water supply comes from four different sources, which it calls the Four National Taps, that supply water to over 5 million people. The Four National Taps consist of water from the following:
There was a time in Singapore’s history, about 50 years ago, when people had to line up in the streets for water during periods of water rationing caused by prolonged dry spells. However, in a few decades, PUB has been able to transform the country into one where water people have no memory of the water rationing.
It did so by “tapping technology and embarking on ambitious engineering projects,” as PUB’s publication states. Singapore began collecting and treating rainwater, reclaiming water used by its citizens and building desalination plants.
PUB launched water conservation awareness programs in 2009 and claims that water conservation “has become an inseparable part of the people, public and private sectors.”
The awareness programs typically run during the drier period from January to April and has support from supermarket and fast food chains. They typically consist of television commercials, a radio jingle, posters and handbooks available in print on the Internet, a mobile showroom rolled out in shopping malls, social media campaigning, and online games.
As the Weather Channel described it, the state has gone from drought to deluge. Some parts of the Sierra Nevada Mountains received up to 12 inches of rain. Unfortunately, the state severely lacks storage to capture all of that rainwater and has had to release water from its reservoirs in order to avoid flooding.
The Pacific Institute describes storms in California as both a blessing and a curse: The state and its residents desperately need every drop of rainfall, but storms can often bring floods and mudslides. And the state lacks the storage to capture those precious drops of water falling from the sky.
What California needs is not more surface storage or new dams. What is needed is groundwater recharge. The state is pumping groundwater at an unsustainable rate.
One district in the state’s San Joaquin Valley, the Alta Irrigation District, is bucking this trend. It puts excess water in small recharge ponds during wet periods to refill its groundwater. During dry periods, groundwater is pumped out to meet water needs.
As Pacific Institute describes, “Done right, this is a sustainable, brilliant, water-management tool.” And it is a tool every major watershed in the Golden State should watch.
Image credit: Flickr/Shlabotnik
Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.