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Singapore water industry to receive S$200 million research boost

Singapore's water industry will receive an extra S$200 million ($148 million) in research and development funding over the next five years after the prime minister warned that the country faces a droughts risk.12 Jul 2016

The funding will come from the National Research Foundation (NRF) under Singapore's Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 Plan, bringing total R&D funding for water to S$670m over 15 years, Singapore's national water agency, PUB, said

Alongside meeting Singapore's national needs, PUB and the Economic Development Board (EDB) will tap on Singapore's strengths in water "to develop solutions for the world", PUB said.

Singapore has strengths in membrane, desalination, and sensor technologies, PUB said. It will also focus on developing industrial water solutions, and on new areas such as automation and robotics, it said.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said climate change will bring about more extreme weather, droughts, floods and rising sea levels but preparations can be made to mitigate this, the Straits Times reported

Research and development has helped ensure an adequate supply of water for Singapore over the years and the country will continue to depend on it, he said.

"Droughts are going to be a problem for us in Singapore. We have to prepare for our own water supply, which for us has always been a strategic and high priority issue, and we are putting a lot of resources into it," Lee said, according to the Straits Times report.

PUB will also soon call for tenders for Phase 2 of Singapore's Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) and Integrated Waste Management Facility, it said.

DTSS Phase 2 includes enhanced deep tunnels with advanced sensing and maintenance features, associated link sewers, the TUAS water reclamation plant (TWRP) and integrated NEWater factory. It is estimated to cost S$6.5 billion, PUB said.

TWRP will have a total treatment capacity of 800,000 cubic meters a day and will be the largest membrane bioreactor facility in the world, PUB said.

The water industry currently contributes more than S$2.2 billion to Singapore's gross domestic product and has created over 14,000 jobs. By 2020, the government hopes to increase this to 15,000, PUB said.