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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.


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.


FDW water conservation ambassador pre-event briefing.


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


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.


Original footbridge across Pang Sua Canal


New Pang Sua Bridge with lightings after completion of upgrading works


Vacant land before construction of footpath


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.”


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.


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.


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.


Sungei Pinang before upgrading works


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.


Vacant land between Namly Avenue and Third Avenue


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.


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


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:

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.”


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.


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


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.


SYWC - Students sharing school projects 2 

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.”


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.”


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:





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. 


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