SINGAPORE: Water prices are set to increase this year, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli announced on Tuesday (Feb 7).
The minister declined to specify how much the increase would be but said more details would be revealed during Budget 2017, which is set to be delivered on Feb 20.
Mr Masagos said the projected increase was due to higher costs in producing water, taking into consideration factors such as urbanisation and the need to dig deeper to lay pipes, as well as the need to renew old plants and transmission pipes.
"Together with the need to put up with weather that's less reliable than before as well as to ensure that we are operationally sound, we have to ensure that this is sustainable for Singapore," added Mr Masagos.
The minister also said that the price of water has remained constant for the past 17 years, and is currently underpriced. Including the water conservation tax, water in Singapore currently costs S$1.52 per cubic metre.
"In countries around the world where water is not priced properly, the water ministry is not able to recoup the costs enough to build new assets to replace old assets and sometimes assets are left in disrepair. Even if they do have water, water cannot get to where it's needed," Mr Masagos said.
PUB CALLS FOR PROPOSALS FOR FIFTH DESALINATION PLANT
Mr Masagos also announced that national water agency PUB has put up a request for proposals for the development of Singapore's fifth desalination plant.
Four applicants shortlisted from an earlier pre-qualification exercise - Keppel Infrastructure Holdings, Sembcorp Utilities, Tuas Power and YTL Power International - have been invited to submit their proposals, PUB said in a press release.
According to PUB, the new plant is projected to enhance Singapore's water resilience by adding another 137,000 cubic metres of desalinated water a day to the country's water supply.
The desalination plant will be co-located within the successful applicant's existing facility, such as a power plant or a steam generation plant on Jurong Island, so that potential synergies in resources such as seawater intake or energy can be derived, the agency added.
PUB's director of engineering development and procurement, Young Joo Chye, said that as a source of water that is independent of rainfall, desalinated water "bolsters the reliability of our water supply against prolonged periods of dry spells and droughts".
There are currently two desalination plants in Singapore which provide enough water to meet up to 25 per cent of Singapore's current demand. With the completion of a third plant in Tuas by this year and a fourth in Marina East by 2020, desalinated seawater is expected to meet up to 30 per cent of Singapore's water needs by 2060.