Water crisis looms in Asia
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Water crisis looms in Asia

A four-year study says the biggest problem for cities is simple leaky pipes, reports Asia Sentinel

Singapore, only 710 square kilometers in size and the most densely populated country on the planet, has managed the remarkable goal of becoming almost 100 percent self-reliant for water, according to a new study by the Asian Development Bank.

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A dead fish lies on the cracked bed of a reservoir due to a severe months-long drought on the Korean Peninsula in early 2012. Pic: AP.

Previously dependent almost entirely for its water on Malaysia across the Causeway, with which it sometimes has maintained less-than-cordial relations, “Singapore faced the enormous challenge of water scarcity and vulnerability as its population grew rapidly after it obtained independence in 1965,” according to the ADB report, Good Practices in Urban Water Management.

In that, the city state has lessons for the rest of Asia, which faces serious water problems almost everywhere, according to the report, a four-year effort by the ADB and the Institute of Water Policy at Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore.

Although the report doesn’t note it, Kuan Yew, then the head of the Singaporean government, set out to eliminate as much as possible the country’s dependency on Malaysia in case of strife. The country adopted an integrated approach to water management that took more than 40 years to complete.

“Singapore’s ability to manage its water supply, using it wisely to support its economic activities to become a city with a high standard of living is impressive,” the report continues. Since 2003, Singapore succeeded in using innovation to enlarge its water supply.

The island republic turned wastewater into high-grade reclaimed water and produced the end product on a large scale to enhance self-sufficiency, renaming wastewater “used water” to reflect its value for reuse. Its seawater reclamation is one of the world’s most advanced, although it remains expensive.

Continue reading at Asia Sentinel