NEWater’s genesis dates back to the 1970s, when the Singapore government commissioned a study to determine the feasibility of producing reclaimed water. Although the study found it was technically possible, the technology’s high cost and unproven reliability then were insurmountable concerns.
By the 1990s, however, membrane technology’s cost and performance had improved considerably. Other countries such as the United States were also increasingly using it for water treatment and reclamation.
In 1998, PUB set up a team to test the latest proven membrane technology’s use in water reclamation for potable purposes. Two years later, it commissioned a full-scale demonstration plant that could produce 10,000 cubic metres daily.
The high-grade, reclaimed water was named NEWater, and a battery of tests and audits showed it was a safe and sustainable water source.
An international group of experts in engineering, biomedical sciences, chemistry and water technology also found that NEWater’s quality was consistently safe and high, and well within the WHO and USEPA’s requirements for drinking water. They recommended it for indirect potable use, to be introduced into raw water reservoirs. The blended water undergoes naturalisation and further treatment in conventional waterworks to create drinking water.
In 2003, we launched NEWater to the Singaporean public, with the opening of the first two NEWater plants at Bedok and Kranji, and the NEWater Visitor Centre, a water museum to showcase our journey towards water sustainability.