Latest SIWW Diary Entries
 

Singapore wins another award at Stockholm

This time it was three eighteen year olds. Congratulation to Luigi Marshall Cham, Jun Yong Nicholas Lim and Tian Ting Carrie-Anne Ng who picked up the 2012 Stockholm Junior Water Prize at an award ceremony at the World Water Week in Stockholm. Hope this serves as an inspiration to all readers here.

Also on the night, PepsiCo picked up the Stockholm Industry Water Award for its recent water efficieny award. I know PepsiCo have been working hard in this area, and I met Sanjeev Chadha at SIWW in 2010 at our roundtable on Water Reuse; he was particularly eloquent during that session. This is a good read about PepsiCo ambitions for Africa which Sanjeev talked about after receiving the award (highlighting the south-south alliance that is forming in the “new Asia”).

Sanjeev Chadha picture with Len Rodman and Ralph Eberts from Black & Veatch at SIWW 2010

Anyway, congratulations to the three youthful Singaporeans who follow in the footsteps of PUB in 2007.

Here’s a great little debate hosted by the Guardian on September , inspired by this year’s Stockholm World Water Week. Will take place at 9 p.m. Singapore time on September 6th. The relationship between water and food (and energy) is a topic air frequently through these pages. Join in, listen and be heard!

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“Life without water is not an option”

The excitment of SIWW has simmered down somewhat, but “aftereffects”, or results, of the global event still permeate the water industry. We know this by reading about it, or watching it, in the news.

An interview Ralph Eberts, Executive Vice-President, Black & Veatch’s global water business, did with Rachel Kelly from regional broadcast station Channel NewsAsia during the SIWW was recently aired in two of its mainstay programmes: EcoVentures and MoneyMind. One interview, aired twice in the same week, with different focuses and contexts. This is not common media practice – and it shows just how important the subject is, and how versatile it can be to be explored in a number of ways.

The EcoVentures feature focused on how sustainable water solutions provide investment opportunities. Smaller water companies are encouraged to develop new technologies and have been actively doing so; larger companies are securing  international contracts. And this is expected to increase in scope and mass as the industry look further into reuse and recycling.  

The MoneyMind feature was centred on the rising business potential of waste treatment and management. To quote Rachel, companies are developing new techonlogies “to turn one man’s rubbish into another man’s treasure”. The episode featured interviews with local and international companies which have played an active role in transforming waste of all forms into resource, and Black & Veatch was profiled alongside industry leaders such as Shell and Veolia, as well as international represntatives from the likes of the World Bank.

Channel NewsAsia interviews Ralph Eberts at the Singapore International Water Week 2012

During the interview, Ralph said, “…the water industy represents an outstanding investment opportunity. It’s relatively stable because…life with water is not an option. So we see pretty steady returns in the water industry.” I can’t agree more. As the industry continues to evolve to reduce waste and increase resource conversion, I’m sure there will be an exponential increase in the number of new companies jumping on the bandwagon for this cause.

SIWW may now be a bi-annual event, but its wheels have been set in motion since its conception five years ago. The topics industry discuss; partnerships sealed, and new technologies discovered and used are proof of the event’s legacy even after the end of the official week. And I’m expecting more to come – not least in the Water Dialogue White Paper - an amalgamation of thoughts and solutions disucssed at the Black & Veatch-SIWW organised Water Leaders Summit workshop.

Keep a look out for it!

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ABC Waters Learning Trail @ Bedok Reservoir with Springfield Secondary School

Photo Essay by Lionel Lim alias Marcus

Bedok Reservoir is an Active, Beautiful and Clean site that is popular with kayakers, joggers and cyclists. It is also the venue for our ABC Waters Learning Trail, which will be guided by students from Springfield Secondary School.

Bright-eyed students setting off on their ABC Waters Learning Trail. Besides learning about water, the students also learn about the different types of plants along the trail.

Students from Tampines Secondary school being briefed by a student leader from Springfield Secondary School (far right) about their water testing activity.

Students testing the level of alkali in the water collected from Bedok Reservoir.

A boy collecting a bucket of water to use for the water testing activity.

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Stewards of MacRitchie

By Nicholas Patrick

Call me a skeptic but when I was told that I had to cover the MacRitchie EcoRitch Trail, I doubted anyone would be interested in it.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Even at such a young age, the students from the Global Indian International School had this incredible zest to find out anything and everything about the ecology of MacRitchie. And they were definitely not disappointed.

 Their guides were two students from Hwa Chong Institution who were not only wonderfully enthusiastic but also incredibly knowledgeable. They were able to effortlessly identity every plant and animal species we came across on the trail. They were also extremely sociable, interacting with adults and children alike.

But the most important takeaway for me was the need for everyone to take responsibility of their own environment. Yes, PUB may be the authority in charge of MacRitchie Reservoir. But the responsibility of protecting the biodiversity of MacRitchie does not lie with them alone. Everyone has to take the initiative in being stewards of not just MacRitchie Reservoir, but also our other water sites across the island.

So a big thank you to Hwa Chong for doing their part and simultaneously encouraging others to do the same.

I would also like to give a special mention to Diana Cheong and the rest of the Community Relations department for making it a successful event at MacRitchie Reservoir.

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Cultivating a shared responsibility towards water

By Nicholas Patrick

“Creativity can solve almost any problem. The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything” – George Lois

As another successful edition of the Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) comes to a close, it is only fitting that we recap on some key challenges that were identified and the possible measures to overcome them.

Below are three key ideas that were mentioned consistently throughout the entire SIWW.

Multi-stakeholder approach

Firstly, with water being such a broad issue that involves everyone, a multi-stakeholder approach is the best way to implement ideas and solutions both efficiently and successfully across the board.

Once government and industry leaders implement these ideas, it is the responsibility of everyone involved along the water chain to ensure its success. Building a filtration system that can turn polluted water into drinking water in the most remote villages in the world will not work if the villagers are not educated on how to maintain the systems and use it effectively.

In essence, everyone needs to take responsibility and be accountable to ensure the success of an idea.

Having the right capacity

Secondly, with an increasingly connected world, the availability of technology and solutions has become easily accessible. Moreover, water, while still a scarce and precious resource, is still readily available with the right infrastructure in place.

However, that is where the problem lies. Not enough is being done to ensure cities, especially developing ones, have sufficient capacity to accommodate a fast growing population. There is a need to create and maintain the infrastructure needed to bring water to people and waste away from them.

Hence, it is important to understand that while water is finite, it is not the only problem we need to tackle. Effective capacity management is a key ingredient in solving the water and waste management problems that plague us today.

Good Governance

Finally, and perhaps the most important factor of all, is good governance. Governments have the ability to implement policies, provoke thought leadership and inspire a country to work together to achieve a common goal. Hence it is necessary, especially for the topic of water, for governing bodies to work cooperatively with the various stakeholders to identify key challenges and come up with effective solutions to overcome them.

Water is our responsibility

18,554 participants from 104 countries participated in the SIWW. They alone are not responsible for our water security. All 7 billion of us are.

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Open all hours: the water dialouge never stops

Hi all — we’re going to continue to continue posting articles around SIWW for the next while and remain open all year round for more posts, discussion and collective learning on water issue relating to Singapore and the world. Lots of insights to share. Keep tuned as we’ll be posting on this site all year round.

 

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Of sanitation and disbelievers

Some final words at the World Water Leaders Summit Closing Session

By Oliver Michael alias Clark Kent

When the term ‘water conservation’ comes to mind, people usually think about the irresponsible use of water such as leaving the tap running or spending hours in the shower every day.

However, for the likes of Professor Tommy Koh, Chairperson of the Water Leaders Summit and Ambassador-at-large, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Singapore, the issue of sanitation comes to mind instead.

“Eighty percent of waste generated is not treated in Asia,” said Professor Koh in his statement at the Water Leaders Summit Closing Session today. He felt that this issue should come under greater scrutiny and governments should rope in private companies to collaborate on possible solutions.

Professor Koh also highlighted the need to re-iterate the message of water conservation to the masses world-wide. “We need to teach our people to treasure water. People are not going to treasure it if it’s given away free or subsidised,” he said.

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Crescent Girls’ School gives tour of Alexandra Canal

By Dillon Tan

I reached Alexandra Canal Play Area and was greeted with fresh puddles of rainwater from a sudden downpour earlier that day. Just like the event at Sengkang Floating Wetland, I was escorted around by enthusiastic student councillors from Crescent Girls’ School. About 40 Secondary 2 students from Admiralty Secondary School and Cedar Girls’ School attended the tour.

The tour started off at a gallery with canvases illustrated by Crescent Girls’ Students, explaining the canal’s features. Using an app developed by the school and in partnership with HP and PUB, the small group animatedly swiped their fingers on their devices, playing games and puzzles while learning about the canal’s history and flora and fauna. For example, in one mini-game, the students were required to vigorously shake and swipe their fingers to widen the canal. The app even had short clips of Crescent Girls’ teachers introducing the canal’s history. I find that this gave the app a more personal touch, allowing the users to feel like they were really being spoken to by a teacher.

Another interesting activity the students carried out was testing the characteristics of the canal’s water. They used elaborate equipment such as data loggers to test the water’s salinity, turbidity, etc. Some of the reactions by the students ranged from, “We got to do hands-on stuff!” to “Never done this kind of thing before.”

The Alexandra Canal is no doubt a very educational place for students and the general public. This is even more so for Crescent Girls’ School, who played a part in the conception and development of this place, and also because the school is just a stone’s throw away from the Canal’s Play Area.

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A Final SIWW Message Grew out of Gardens by the Bay

As Singapore International Water Week came to a close it did so in what I found to be an interesting way. Given this was my first attendance, perhaps this was by design as the event, as well as PUB, are known for innovative thinking. Gardens by the Bay was the site of the SIWW closing event and it offered all of the spectacular beauty that it promises. Innovation in another way, where flower and plant species from around the world are brought together in one holistic fashion; the sum of the whole being greater than the parts. From an industry perspective, the closing ceremony also brought together many countries and regions of the world.  Many thought leaders from various industries and many experts who had participated in SIWW to learn about ways to enhance water quality and wastewater; or to capture nutrients or focus on new ways to manage assets in a more efficient and effective way.  There is a message we can take from the venue and the closing event. Whether we are talking about plant and flower species from around the world, or somewhat disparate parts of industries that all focus on that precious resource we call water – the sum of the whole is greater than the parts. Let’s unite the water industry and re-brand what has traditionally been viewed as separate entities, with one voice, one approach and one collective set of expertise. It won’t only be fun, the value that grows out of a combined effort will be a beautiful site – as beautiful a site as Gardens by the Bay! 

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An interactive morning with Dr James Barnard

Dr Barnard is a role model for many aspiring environmental engineers

On Wednesday morning, about a dozen post-graduate students from the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, gathered at the Black & Veatch booth to meet with Dr James Barnard.

Known by many names (among which the ‘Father of BNR’ and ’Laureate of 2011 Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize’ are among the most commonly used), Dr Barnard is not only a leader in his field but also an inspiration to many aspiring engineers in the water industry. As he said in his interview later that morning, winning the prize hasn’t done as much for his career as it has presented more opportunities for him to share about his work and, in the process, bring to light the ongoing challenges the industry faces and the need for more solutions.

The session began with the screening of Dr Barnard’s Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2011 video, after which Dr Barnard took the stage with a short introduction to his work. This was quickly followed by an interactive Q&A session with the students, who were keen to find out more about how the BNR process works and seek advice on taking their own research further by hearing from the leader himself.

Dr James Barnard shares about his work in an interview with trade media Water and Wastewater Asia

It was a productive morning, both for the students who, I’m sure, went away enriched from the dialogue, and Dr Barnard who, through another session indirectly inspired by his award, encouraged more to take on the task of finding new solutions for an ever changing industry.

This is the value a platform like the Singapore International Water Week brings. Without the SIWW, students in Singapore could never have the chance to meet global leaders like Dr Barnard and many others who attended the event. The converse is true. Without such a platform, there are fewer opportunities for industry leaders to make a difference and directly influence young professionals at the other end of the world.

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On Singapore.Waterdialogue.com, previously SIWWDiary.com, we're bringing together many voices and experiences to help expand the dialogue on water leading up to, and during, Singapore International Water Week (SIWW). This blog is presented by Black & Veatch, but opinions posted are the authors' only.

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