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Featured Stories

 
 
13 Feb 2020

5 Things You Didn’t Know About Our Water

PUB has a comprehensive and strict source-to-tap water quality monitoring programme that covers the entire system, from reservoirs to the waterworks and distribution network. This is to ensure our drinking water is of the highest quality that is well within World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. Stringent monitoring and continuous innovation – that’s how we ensure clean and safe drinking water straight from the tap. Read on to find out more!

1. More than 450,000 water quality tests are conducted annually

Spanning over 300 parameters, more than 450,000 water quality tests are done in PUB’s accredited water quality lab annually. Apart from collecting water samples for tests, we also use online sensors for real-time monitoring of both raw and treated water. Online Monitoring Profiler Systems are strategically placed in reservoirs and waterways to measure various physical, chemical and biological parameters. Within the distribution network, there are also more than 300 water quality sensors to further safeguard our drinking water supply.

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2. Fish and “swans” play an important role in monitoring water quality

Don’t be surprised if you spot a swan bobbing around in our reservoirs! These are actually “NUSwan” (New Smart Water Assessment Network) designed to resemble life-sized swans. This smart robot collects real-time water quality data autonomously near the water surface and provides spatial water quality information. In addition, it can also access remote locations to help us better understand the conditions of the entire reservoir.

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We also use a Fish Activity Monitoring System to help us monitor the quality of treated water. Stationed at various waterworks and service reservoirs, the fully-automated system constantly provides live monitoring of fish motion activity and counts of fish via video cameras and image analysis software. Alerts are then triggered for any possible abnormality in water quality.

3. Water quality tests can be done on the go

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We take no chances when it comes to water quality issues. The PUB mobile laboratory can be deployed to water incident sites within 1 – 2 hours as a quick response to attend to any water quality feedback and cases. Over 16 parameters can be tested on-site in the mobile lab, allowing for greater efficiency.

Find out more at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1D5Pusy_wa4

4. Ultraviolet (UV) technologies are put to good use for NEWater

UV light is an effective water disinfection tool and plays an important part in the NEWater treatment process. There is a stringent 3-step process – microfiltration (MF), reverse osmosis (RO) and UV disinfection - to recycle treated used water. MF and RO remove all microscopic particles and undesirable contaminants. At the last stage of the process, UV disinfection is conducted where the water passes through UV light to ensure that any remaining organisms, including bacteria and viruses, are inactivated. Chemicals are then added to restore pH balance, before we get NEWater – ultra-clean, high-grade reclaimed water.

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5. Water filters may do more harm than good

Do you wonder why filter devices (or cloth filters at the taps) turn brown? These brownish deposits are due to the minute amounts of minerals inherent in the water supply that were absorbed and oxidised over time. Filters may become a breeding ground for bacteria if they are not cleaned or replaced regularly.

These minerals are also common causes of water discolouration, when re-suspension occurs due to sudden flow changes in the water pipe. Essential maintenance operations such as the routine cleaning of water tanks, flushing of watermains and service pipes in buildings may cause re-suspension of mineral sediments. However, discoloured water can also be attributed to stagnant water in service pipes and water service installations as a result of infrequent use.

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07 Feb 2020

Rainfall prediction - enchancing PUB's response to flash floods​

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Water level sensors, CCTV cameras and rainfall maps - these are some of the equipment PUB relies on to monitor for flash floods during heavy rainfall events.

Now, officers on duty at the national water agency's Joint Operations Centre have a new tool at their disposal - a system capable of predicting the locations where heavy rain is expected, allowing them to deploy PUB's Quick Response Teams (QRT) early to where there could be potential flooding.

This augments the data that PUB currently receives from the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) for heavy rainfall alerts. MSS also provides two-hour weather forecasts for the various towns across Singapore.

The rainfall monitoring and prediction system will enhance PUB's response to flash floods, a key area where there is always room for improvement, says Senior Principal Engineer (Drainage Operations) Thomas Soh.

"What we needed was localised forecasts so we can pinpoint with higher accuracy the specific areas that are likely to experience heavy rainfall. This will allow our QRT vehicles sufficient time to travel to locations with high flood risk in anticipation of any potential floods.

Should a flood occur at the location, our officers are already on site to render assistance such as traffic management, locate possible drainage choke points or if the flooding is particularly severe, deploy portable flood barriers to divert floodwaters and keep public out of harm's way.

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Lightweight and self-anchoring, portable flood barriers can be quickly deployed to divert floodwaters from roads so that traffic remains passable.

How does the system work?

In 2016, PUB worked with Hydroinformatics Institute (H2i) Ptd Ltd and industrial electronics firm Furuno Singapore Pte Ltd to install three X-band radars - which are compact and suited for monitoring rainfall within short ranges of 30 to 50km - in the northern, eastern and western parts of Singapore.

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The X-band radar at Changi Water Reclamation Plant. The two other radars are located at the Woodlands NEWater Service Reservoir and CleanTech One building.

These radars, which are typically used for air traffic control and maritime vessel navigation, scan the sky for rain. The information is translated to a high resolution map of 100m x 100m grid cells showing the current rainfall intensity over Singapore.

The information is also fed to a rainfall nowcast model that generates accurate rain forecasts for the next 30 minutes. The model uses the observed movement of rain clouds and the change in rainfall intensity over time to produce these forecasts.

Currently, the system has an accuracy rate of 65%.

"The main challenge to improve the accuracy of the radars is the way rainfall develops in Singapore, or tropical climates in general. It is highly localised - for instance, it might rain heavily in one area but just a few kilometres away, there is no rain. Rainfall events are also normally very fleeting," says Dr Albert Goedbloed, H2i's senior consultant in charge of the project.

"Having a better understanding of the start of a rain event and its growth and decay is the key to improving forecast quality."

Aiming to enhance the system's accuracy and to allow for better coverage across Singapore, PUB will be installing three more X-band radars at various locations. Locations under consideration include Seletar, Tuas and central Singapore.

H2i will also be introducing a machine learning algorithm to the system to further increase its accuracy.

01 Nov 2019

Engaging Foreign Domestic Workers as Water Conservation Ambassadors

For the first time, Singapore’s national water agency PUB is collaborating with the Foreign Domestic Worker Association for Social Support and Training (FAST) to train foreign domestic workers (FDWs) to become ‘Water Conservation Ambassadors’ so that they can learn about good water conservation habits and promote them to their community and the families they work with.

PUB conducted two training sessions in October at the FAST Clubhouse located in Bukit Merah with 26 foreign domestic helpers. At these sessions, they learnt about Singapore’s water resources and simple water saving tips that they can practice at home.

Mr Yap Wai Kit from PUB’s 3P Network Department who led the training noted that FDWs play a key role in household’s water consumption.

“There are about 255,000 FDWs in Singapore and they do most of the household chores. By empowering the FDWs with knowledge on water conservation and helping them understand how water is a scarce resource in Singapore, they will be able to contribute greatly to household water savings and also bring the water conservation message closer to their community and the employers they serve”, he said.

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FDWs at the water conservation ambassador training session conducted by PUB.

The trained ambassadors were excited to share their knowledge and spread water conservation message to their peers at the recent FDW Day event organised by FAST on 27 October at ITE College Central. This is an annual event to recognise the contributions of FDWs to Singapore and promote bonding between FDWs and employers.

The event, which has been running for 10 years, saw more than 10,000 domestic workers thronging the venue to enjoy their day-off with entertainment by artists from their homeland, games, freebies, photo booths and free meals. Meanwhile, the FDW water conservation ambassadors at the PUB booth were enthusiastically sharing water conservation tips with their fellow FDWs and recruiting more ambassadors to champion the water cause. On top of learning water saving tips, the participants at the booth also received a special Water Wally dish sponge for completing a survey on water conservation habits and posting their pictures at the booth on Facebook.

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FDW water conservation ambassador pre-event briefing.

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FDW water conservation ambassadors promoting water saving tips at the 10th FDW Day event.

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FDW water conservation ambassadors at PUB’s outreach booth.

One of the ambassadors, Ms Mary Jasmine Cepeda, 49, from the Philippines, has been working in Singapore for 28 years. After attending the training by PUB, she shared what she has learnt with her British employer who was supportive and asked her to apply some of the water saving tips.

“My employer was very impressed with what I’ve learnt about Singapore’s water resources and I can even explain how water is reclaimed in Singapore. Now, my employer has agreed for me to change some of the household habits such as washing vegetables in a container instead of running water and switching from washing clothes daily to only twice a week on a full load to save water“, she said.

She shared that back home in the Philippines, her family relies on water from the wells and would not know how much they have used, leading to a lot of wastage.

Another ambassador, Ms Marfuah Hadi, 42, from Indonesia said that she decided to join the water conservation ambassador programme for a more productive use of her off-days. She has been working in Singapore for 13 years. She shared that most villages in Indonesia rely on well water and only have to pay for electricity to pump the water into a storage tank. Without having to pay for water, it is easy for her fellow countrymen to take it for granted.

“Most foreign domestic workers don’t know that Singapore is a water scarce country. We take it for granted that when we come here, we turn the tap and water flows freely. Most of the FDWs I meet say that their employer do not really care about saving water, but I tell them that we must care. Singapore gave me job so I also need to play my part to save its water,” she said.

Marfuah now consciously tries to save water by ensuring that she turns off the tap while she is washing dishes or bathing her employer’s baby and using half –flush where possible.

Moving forward, PUB plans to further its outreach to FDWs by conducting more ambassador training sessions and developing training materials to educate new incoming FDWs about water conservation.

By Nora Farhain, 3P Network Department

24 Oct 2019

PUB officers lauded for exemplifying OneService spirit to address community needs

In November 2017, PUB received requests from the Choa Chu Kang and Zhenghua Constituency Offices (COs) to improve the connectivity between Teck Whye (Chua Chu Kang Town) and Senja (Bukit Panjang Town).

Residents feedback that the existing footbridge across Pang Sua Canal has become worn out over the years and was unsafe for use. There was also no proper footpath and lighting across the vacant land from the footbridge to Woodlands Road. As a result, residents had to make a detour in order to get to the other side of the town.

PUB officers Christiana Shen, Shihana Salahudeen and Kamarudin Bin Fadillah promptly swung into action. They worked with the Land Transport Authority (LTA), National Parks Board (NParks) and the relevant COs to develop a comprehensive plan to not just rehabilitate the footbridge but also enhance connectivity by constructing a new footpath to connect the footbridge to Woodlands Road. Construction works were completed in December 2018 and the new infrastructures were opened for public use in January 2019.

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Original footbridge across Pang Sua Canal

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New Pang Sua Bridge with lightings after completion of upgrading works

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Vacant land before construction of footpath

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New footpath with lightings connecting the new Pang Sua Bridge to Woodlands Road

Senior Engineer Christiana Shen said, “The task was not easy as it involved coordination between different agencies across multiple tasks and we had to work closely together for the infrastructures to be built successfully. I am thankful that my fellow public officers were all keen to join forces to find a suitable solution for the residents. It really takes a whole-of-government effort.”

The project team was commended at the Municipal Service Awards 2019 held on 17 October 2019, for exemplifying the OneService spirit by stepping across organisation boundaries to collaborate with other agencies and grassroots organisations to address the community’s needs.

When asked about her thoughts on delivering effective municipal services, Christiana said, “Here at PUB, we don’t just handle water issues. We want to work together with our fellow government agencies and community partners to engage citizens, build strong partnerships and improve municipal service delivery, making Singapore a better place to live in. This means looking at our municipal spaces and try to realise the full potential of our water infrastructures by integrating them with the surrounding environment in a holistic way that can bring benefits to everyone.”

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Senior Engineer Christiana Shen, Catchment & Waterways Department, representing PUB to receive the Municipal Services Award for the rehabilitation of Pang Sua Bridge

Municipal Services Awards

The Municipal Services Awards is an annual event organised by the Municipal Services Office (MSO) to recognise excellent citizen-centric delivery of municipal services and inter-agency efforts to achieve effective solutions. The awards also recognise community partners who had worked closely with MSO and agencies to better serve residents.

In her opening address at the awards ceremony, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Grace Foo, who heads the MSO, commended all nominees and award recipients for going an extra mile for residents. She emphasised that the DNA of every OneService officer should be “someone who proactively steps into the shoes of the residents to understand their problems, and thus is able to implement meaningful and effective solutions.” She also called for all public officers to continue work closely together to deliver better municipal services and create a better living environment for all.

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Ms Grace Foo, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, giving her opening speech at the Municipal Service Awards 2019

This year, MSO received 110 nominations for the awards, around a 10% increase from the 97 nominations in 2018. There were a total of 23 winners across three categories - Individual (4 winners), Team (10 winners) and Community (9 winners).

In addition to the Pang Sua Bridge project team, our PUB officers were also involved in three other collaborative projects that had won in the Team Category.

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Tan Chian Chern, Director of Organisational Excellence (far left) and Ridzuan Ismail, Director of Water Supply (Network) (far right) with the nine PUB officers honoured with the Municipal Service Award. (second from left: Cheng Geok Ling, Chief Engineer, C&W; Muhammad Agus Bin Othman, Engineer, WSN; Liu Huei Lyn, Senior Landscape Architect, C&W; Shihana Salahudeen, Senior Enginner, C&W; Neo Peng Siang, Principal Engineer, C&W; Tan Nguan Sen, Senior Consultant, C&W; Thomas Soh, Senior Principal Engineer, C&W; Christiana Shen, Senior Engineer, C&W; and Kamarudin Bin Fadilah, Engineer, C&W)

Project 1. Rejuvenating Sungei Pinang and Enhancing Connectivity to Punggol Park

Hougang residents were pleased with their new community spaces and greenery along the Sungei Pinang. This was the result of PUB’s collaboration with the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and NParks to enhance the waterway. As part of the project, ABC Waters features were introduced to beautify the blue space and transform the concrete waterway into an area for community events and recreation. A pedestrian bridge across the waterway was also constructed to improve connectivity for residents.

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Sungei Pinang before upgrading works

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Integration of ABC water features and construction of a new pedestrian bridge across Sungei Pinang

Project 2. Improving Connectivity between Namly Avenue and Sixth Avenue MRT

PUB worked together with NParks and Ulu Pandan Constituency Office to improve connectivity between Namly Estate and Sixth Avenue MRT station by constructing a new footpath on PUB’s pipeline reserve between Namly Avenue to Third Avenue. With the new footpath, 500 households in Namly Estate were able to reduce their commuting distance to the Sixth Avenue MRT station by about 200 metres. A bicycle ramp was also installed for cyclists use.

Project 3. Design for Maintainability Guide for Municipal Infrastructure

To encourage greater cleanliness and maintenance of public infrastructure, PUB, together with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), National Environment Agency (NEA), HDB, LTA, and NParks, developed a Design for Maintainability Guide for Municipal Infrastructure (DfM Guide). The DfM Guide provides a set of design recommendations and best practices to aid facilities’ owners and designers in integrating maintainability concepts in the upstream design processes, such as sloping the top surfaces for over-ground boxes to prevent littering. This would in turn help to facilitate cleanliness and accessibility of maintenance for public infrastructure in the long term.

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Vacant land between Namly Avenue and Third Avenue

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New footpath providing a shortcut from Namly Estate to Sixth Avenue MRT station

To encourage greater cleanliness and maintenance of public infrastructure, PUB, together with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA), National Environment Agency (NEA), HDB, LTA, and NParks, developed a Design for Maintainability Guide for Municipal Infrastructure (DfM Guide). The DfM Guide provides a set of design recommendations and best practices to aid facilities’ owners and designers in integrating maintainability concepts in the upstream design processes, such as sloping the top surfaces for over-ground boxes to prevent littering. This would in turn help to facilitate cleanliness and accessibility of maintenance for public infrastructure in the long term.

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Before: Flat surfaces of current OG boxes result in accumulation of litter on top.

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After: Sloped top surfaces for OG boxes to discourage littering. (One of the design recommendations in DfM Guide)

A copy of this year’s municipal service awards e-booklet featuring the award winners can be downloaded at: https://www.msa2019.sg/ebooklet.

By Goh Xin Ying, 3P Network Department

19 July 2019

First Youth Symposium on Sustainable Water Future

Turn on a tap, and clean water flows out, as much as we want, anytime we want. It is easy to forget that Singapore’s journey to provide secure and sustainable water did not come easy. As a country with no natural water resources and limited land to catch and store rainwater, it is important that we do not take our water for granted, and we continue to educate our young to cherish and value this precious resource.

On 10 July 2019, over 200 students from 11 secondary schools, junior colleges and polytechnics participated in the Singapore Youth Water Conference (SYWC). Organised by Raffles Institution and supported by PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency, this inaugural conference aims to create a deeper awareness and knowledge of water security and sustainability issues among our youths.

The Conference kicked off with keynote speeches by Mr Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive of PUB and Professor Asit K. Biswas, Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Glasgow, followed by a dialogue session. Mr Ng impressed upon the students that total water demand is projected to double from the current 430 million gallons of water per day by 2061, and that is water that we do not have today. As such, we need to find alternative sources of water, such as the sewers (water reclamation) and the sea (desalination).

“First of all, we have to maximise our yield, we strive to collect every drop of water that falls on Singapore. Second, we have to think of water as an endlessly reusable resource. Water can always be reclaimed and retreated so that it can be drunk again. Today, we are able to literally turn dirty toilet water into sweet water. Third, because Singapore is surrounded by the sea, we can desalinate salty seawater and make it drinkable.”

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Keynote address by Mr Ng Joon Hee, Chief Executive of PUB



Professor Asit K. Biswas, Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Glasgow, gave an overview of the global water situation and shared how Cambodia, China and India dealt with their respective water challenges. He also cited Singapore as one of the leaders in urban water management.

Professor Asit noted that many countries lacked sufficient water for drinking, agriculture and industrial development due to lack of proper water management. To that end, political will and sustained public action are important in ensuring water resilience and sustainability.

“The world does not have a water problem; it has a water management problem,” he said.

The students had an engaging and candid dialogue session with the panellists, who were experts in their respective water-related fields, such as policy, governance, advocacy and business, on the issue that is close to everyone’s hearts – will we ever run out of water? Participants raised questions and shared their thoughts on water security, ways to reduce water consumption, water price and many others.

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Students sharing their thoughts on water sustainability at the Singapore Water Youth Conference 2019

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Panel members at the Singapore Youth Water Conference. From left: Mr Eugene Heng, CEO, Waterway Watch Society; Mr Charles Quek, Vice-President of Singapore Water Association, CEO of HSL Constructor Pte Ltd; Professor Asit K. Biswas, Distinguished Visiting Professor, University of Glasgow; Mr Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive of PUB and Dr Cecilia Tortajada, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of Water Policy, Lee Kuan Yew School.

Students showcase water-related projects at school exhibition

The conference also saw the showcase of innovative projects undertaken by the students to explore new solutions to water challenges and sharing of water conservation messages.

For example, one team from Raffles Institution looked into the water retention capacities of environmentally-friendly hydrogels, and it effectiveness in removing common pollutants in stormwater. Such hydrogels can be used in rain gardens and green roofs to manage stormwater runoff. A different team looked into the problem of textile industries causing water pollution by discharging wastewater with large amounts of textile dyes in the sea. They explored the effectiveness of the enzyme laccase (found in oyster mushrooms) to treat wastewater by degrading textile dyes.

Another team from Nanyang Polytechnic developed an educational card game to educate players on the water treatment process in Singapore. By understanding the challenges faced in the production of clean drinking water, these students hope to encourage players to take positive actions in water conservation after playing the game.

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Student from various schools sharing their projects with the participants of the conference.

On a whole, the students and panellists had a fruitful discussion and sharing of thoughts on the future of water at the Singapore Youth Water Conference. When asked about the key takeaway from the conference, one student shared that she now recognises how valuable water is, and the importance of sustainable water management not just for Singapore, but for the entire world.

Let us all work together to ensure that we will always have enough water and no one will ever have to go thirsty.


By Goh Xin Ying, 3P Network Department

21 June 2019

Singapore Junior Water Prize (SJWP) 2019

Ever heard of the Singapore Junior Water Prize? This local competition held annually in Singapore gathers creative young minds to come up with innovative water solutions, raise awareness and interest in water and environmental issues. The winning team of the national competition stands a chance to vie for the international Stockholm Junior Water Prize in Sweden – and represent Singapore on this prestigious platform!

Since its inception in 2008, the competition is in its 12th year run which has seen Singapore bag two victories at the Sweden competition in 2012 and 2018. This year, the national competition has received over 30 team entries and is proud to have Wang Haiyi – the winner of SJWP from National Junior College (NJC), to represent Singapore in Sweden this coming August.

“I feel honoured that I am able to represent Singapore to present my work. Looking back, it was a journey filled with uncertainties and challenges and I am truly grateful for constant help and invaluable advice from my mentor Dr Ren Yi from IMRE, A*STAR and my teacher advisor Dr Adrian Loh from NJC.”

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Wang Haiyi from NJC, the winner of SJWP, with Dr Koh Tse Yuen, Deputy Director (Student Development) from Ngee Ann Polytechnic

Haiyi came up with a simple, yet novel idea to improve the regeneration process of absorbents in wastewater treatment. There has been intensive research on developing more efficient absorbents, but an apparent lack in reusing these absorbents for a more feasible and sustainable approach.  

“Sadly, there hasn't been much focus on reusing the exhausted adsorbent. This does not solve the problem at all as the pollutants are merely changed from liquid to solid phase. Therefore, I decided to embark on the journey of developing effective ways to reuse it.”

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Wang Haiyi, presenting her project to the SJWP National Jury.

When asked how Dr Ren Yi, A*STAR’s Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (Haiyi’s mentor) felt about her achievements:

“With little reference from literature, working on new regeneration processes for emerging adsorbent technology is challenging. Haiyi has planned it well. On one hand, she explored variables that could affect the novel electrochemical regeneration, and on the other hand, she studied and optimised the application of conventional thermal process for regeneration as a backup plan…she has overcome many difficulties in the project and her hard work led to the positive data in the development of the proposed technology. I am very proud of her achievement.”

The national competition also saw other interesting and notable ideas presented:

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Students from various schools presenting their projects to the SJWP National Jury.

One team from ITE College East, noticed how most people have the wrong perception about the amount of ice cubes necessary to turn a beverage icy-cold. Their project titled ‘How Cold is Enough? Reduce Waste, Save Water, Energy and Money’ looks into how ice cubes often go to waste due to non-consumption and tries to determine the minimum amount of ice cubes needed to achieve acceptable coldness levels – which is usually lesser than perceived. 

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Students Zhi Teng and Kelvin Chai from ITE College East, whose project clinched Merit Prize at this year’s SJWP.

The Stockholm Junior Water Prize 2019 will be taking place in Sweden this coming August, which will be graced by Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden. Here’s wishing Haiyi all the best and we look forward to her competing meaningfully at an international level!


The Singapore Junior Water Prize is organised by the Lien Foundation, Sembcorp Industries and Ngee Ann Polytechnic, supported by PUB. Hop over here to find out more.

By Siow Ting Fong