This year the words ‘California’ and ‘drought’ have become synonymous in media throughout the world, but it is interesting to note that California is not the only place to struggle with very limited water resources.
Singapore has had a permanent water crisis ever since the island city-state was constructed.
Without any natural water resources and surrounded by undrinkable seawater, Singapore supports no less than 5.5 million citizens.
There is also the problem of not having enough space to effectively collect rainwater. A pipeline running to Malaysia supplies 40 percent of the small country’s water.
For the rest, Singaporean engineers have been pioneering methods to salvage water resources that would otherwise be ignored – the main method utilized being recycling wastewater.
VR World reports:
“Like reclaimed wastewater, desalination is also under consideration in California. During the drought of the late 1980s, a very expensive desalination plant was opened in Santa Barbara, which closed down as soon as the drought ended. Concerns have been cited that such a plant would be expensive to run, and costly in terms of energy.
But technology has changed since the 1980s, and so has the cost of desalinating water. Furthermore, California is the most energy rich state in the entire country, with abundant fossil fuels, sunlight, wind, and tides. Ironically, it also uses less electricity than any other state. Perhaps its time to consider putting that energy to good use.
Times are changing, and while Californians cannot live like they used to live, there is no reason for their situation to be desperate. If California can imagine itself as a water challenged state like Singapore, and follow responsible water production techniques that take into account resources that people have formerly overlooked, it should be able to manage a drought happily until the water returns.”
It is interesting that Singapore has been dealing with this issue effectively for so long. Drought-stricken states can definitely learn from their resiliency.
This includes looking at all available water resources – effectively the entire water cycle of – bore water/groundwater, river and lake water, rainwater and stormwater, wastewater and seawater (available through desalination).
Once this stocktake of water resources has been completed, cost-effective, long term and sustainable solutions can be considered, lifecycle costs developed, funded, then implemented.
Looking at countries that have long been short of water, such as Australia, Singapore, and Israel, and observing the innovative solutions they have developed can also assist in finding the water utility infrastructure management solutions that work for your utility or community.
PHOTO CREDIT: Karl Hipolito. Used with permission