Earlier this week, TODAY published a thought-provoking piece on the decreasing water levels at Linggiu Reservoir — a lake that allows Singapore to draw water from the Johor River. It works by releasing water into the river and fends off saltwater intrusion.
According to the 1962 Water Agreement between Singapore and the Johor state government, we can use up to 250 million gallons of water per day. This meets half of our country’s water needs. The agreement expires in 2061.
But there’s a problem. The water levels in Linggui Reservoir have dipped to a new historic low of 35 per cent last Friday.
What The Drought Means For Singapore
I’m not going to sugarcoat the truth here — things are not looking good.
Speaking to TODAY, Professor Asit Biswas, a visiting professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy (LKYSPP), explained that serious issues will start to arise if there is a prolonged drought in Malaysia.
He said, “the only problem with nature is that it is so uncertain to predict.”
Add that to the unchanging water prices in our country, most Singaporeans do not know how much their water bill is. Or worse, they do not bother to learn about water consumption and conservation.
“They know their electricity bill. You ask anyone what is their water bill, 90 per cent will have no idea… because it’s so little.”
I’m in the 10 per cent group
My monthly water consumption is well above the national average of 17.9 cubic metres (Cu M). I live in a four-room apartment with my family, and unlike the frugal in me, they couldn’t care less about saving water. One time, our water consumption hit an all-time high of 27.2 Cu M.
I was well aware of our outrageous expenditure ever since I got hold of the invoice. Despite reminding them to conserve water, my remark never fails to fall on deaf ears.
I do not say this to pat myself on the back, or bad mouth my family. This is to show the devastating consequences of ignorance. Water conservation is an extreme matter and if it’s not handled properly, it could cause repercussions in the long run.
More Can Be Done
PUB could consider taking a leaf out of Intraix co-founder Bryan Lee’s book, by showing our water consumption in litres and adding the bar graph of our water consumption to the front page of our bills.
Because frankly, what exactly does the national average of 17.9 cubic metres (Cu M) means to layman like you and me? You’ll probably be shocked to learn that 1 Cu M equals to 1ooo litres.
Echoing the words of Bryan, the average water consumption of a 4 room HDB in Singapore is about 11400 litres!
“I was shocked! That’s 6800 bottles of coke (1.75L) per month. Do you know how many litres of water do you use per month? I bet 80% of you do not know.”
There are 45 years to go in the Water Agreement, but we can’t ignore the elephant in the room. Perhaps, the weather in Malaysia will pick up tomorrow, but what if it doesn’t?
Are we prepared?
I doubt it. Here’s what you can do:
It’s not a question of whether you can afford your water bills. Most of us can, but that’s not the point. The point is — in PUB’s words — every drop counts. We have an obligation to look after our country and the world.
And if you still think water conservation is a trivial matter, consider the following fact: by 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population could be facing water shortages.
Wake up, everybody. This is serious.
Featured image credit: Visual Hunt