SINGAPORE: Choa Chu Kang Waterworks (CCKWW) has completed a S$162 million upgrade that will help it tackle challenges in processing raw water as a result of “the negative impacts of climate change”.
The upgrades, which include a ceramic membrane filtration system, were unveiled by Minister for Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli on Thursday (Aug 29).
Mr Masagos said the quality of Singapore’s catchment water may deteriorate with climate change.
“For instance, rising temperatures could result in warmer waters while intense rainfall may lead to an excessive amount of nutrient runoff being washed into our waterways and reservoirs,” the minister stated.
“These conditions are likely to fuel algae growth in the reservoirs, which will need to be removed as part of the water treatment process.
“In anticipation of such challenges, (national water agency) PUB has to continuously invest in new water treatment technologies and upgrade our water treatment plants, as we have done in Choa Chu Kang.”
One of Singapore’s oldest water treatment plants, CCKWW was built in two phases in 1975 and 1981. The three-year upgrade from June 2016 to June 2019 saw the construction of a new facility, installation of ceramic membranes and the inclusion of ozone-biological activated carbon (BAC) treatment for the plant.
The ceramic membrane system, the world’s largest in a single plant, will treat up to 40 million gallons of water per day. Filtering out particles as minute as 0.1 micrometres in size, there will be 12 vessels with 90 ceramic membrane elements in each vessel.
It is more energy and cost efficient than polymeric membranes, said Mr Masagos, adding that the ceramic membrane system only sees 1 per cent of water loss, compared to 5 per cent for a polymeric membrane system. The new membranes are expected to last for 20 years, compared to polymeric membranes that have to be replaced every five years.
Besides the ceramic membranes, the upgrade will also see the implementation of ozone-BAC treatment at the plant.
Ozone, one of the strongest disinfectants in drinking water treatment, kills germs in the water, while activated carbon removes other natural organic impurities, said the minister.
“The installation of the ceramic membranes together with the ozone-BAC system means that Choa Chu Kang Waterworks possesses one of the most advanced water treatment processes in the world,” Mr Masagos added.
NEGATIVE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE
“That we are able to deploy this new technology on such a large scale is the result of years of research, experimentation and rigorous testing,” said Mr Ng Joo Hee, chief executive of PUB.
“Advanced treatment technologies will allow us to cope with the impact of an increasingly urbanised catchment and the negative effects of climate change on Singapore’s raw water quality.”
CCKWW is Singapore’s second-largest waterworks, and treats 80 million gallons of water from Kranji, Pandan and Tengeh reservoirs, equivalent to 145 Olympic-sized swimming pools.
PUB said it has plans to progressively incorporate advanced water treatment processes in the other five water treatment plants in Singapore - Bedok Avenue, Bukit Timah, Chestnut Avenue, Lower Seletar, and Woodleigh Waterworks - when they are “due for upgrade”.
Chestnut Avenue Waterworks and Woodleigh Waterworks are currently being upgraded to include ozone-BAC steps in the water treatment process, PUB said. This is expected to be completed by the end of this year.
PUB also signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with PWN from the Netherlands and South West Water from the United Kingdom to share knowledge of the latest innovations, as well as operational data and best practices on ceramic membrane systems for the next five years.
All three utilities are currently deploying ceramic membrane systems in their water treatment plants.
“Our rigorous water treatment processes and quality monitoring programme from source to tap allow all Singaporeans to drink tap water safely without the need for boiling or extra filtration – a privilege not enjoyed by the vast majority of the world’s population,” said Mr Masagos.
“Climate change has made water an issue every country will have to grapple with in the near future. I am glad that Singapore has been on a quest to address our water issues for the longest time, and am confident that we will continue to address our water supply needs.”