Singapore's Upgrading Water Management Compares with Australia Arabelle Blackman

Water is a precious and limited resource in both Australia and Singapore. It is therefore vital that the management systems in place ensure that the economic and environmental sustainability of both countries is maintained long term.

Australia's management system mainly consists of the Basin Plan. It is a well thought out way to encourage sustainable management of the water resources in the Murray-Darling Basin. The main legal requirement of the Basin Plan is to achieve environmentally friendly limits on the water usage in Australia.

On the other hand, Singapore is one of the most water stressed countries, ranking fifth worst in the world. However, the Singapore government is initiating better water self-sufficiency through integrated water management that will incorporate desalination of seawater and water recycling.

Access to drinking water


Drinking water in Australia is of considerably high standards compared to most other countries. Especially since around the globe there are over one billion people who do not have access to clean drinking water.

Government research in March 2004. In Australia about 93% of Australian households were connected to town or main water. However, 85% of households outside of capital cities were connected whilst most, 98%, of households in the city were connected. 89% of households in capital cities used the town or main water as the main source of water in their home, whereas in rural areas, this statistic dropped to only 67%. South Australia proved to be the least reliant on water from mains as their household water sources with only 60% of households using this source.

The average water usage per day is 153 litres/capita/day

Average urban domestic water and sewer tariff per m3 is US $1.88

Annual investment in water supply and sanitation is USD 609 million.

Warragamba Dam:

Warragamba dam supplies Sydney with its water, covering the 3.7 million people who live in the area, as well as the lower Blue Mountain Region. It is Australia’s largest urban water supply dam. The process of supplying Sydney with water involves selecting the best quality water to filter through screens and outlets. It then travels through pipelines to the water filtration plant and then all around Sydney as the water supply.

During the 1980s, further improvements were made to the dam. The dam wall was raised by about five metres and it was also strengthened. An auxiliary spillway was also introduced to divert the floodwater during the early 2000s. In 2006, to provide more water access during times of drought, a deep water pumping station was built.


There is a high water demand in Singapore of about 430 million gallons per day. This total consists of households using about 45% of this and the non-domestic sector totalling the rest. It is predicted that by 2060, this demand may have almost doubled. However, by then the NEWater and desalination will have supplied for about 85% of Singapore’s future water demand. According to the Government of Singapore, the water from the local catchment, imported water, NEWater (40%) and desalinated water (25%) consists of the water supply for current Singapore.

The Environment and Water Programme Office are determined to make a change in the way Singapore generates their water supply. S$670 million has been put in to promote development in the water sector from the National Research Foundation. In Singapore, an increase in the promotion of healthy water means there are at least 20 research centres and more than 180 water companies.

Marina Barrage:

The Marina Barrage is built across the Marina Channel in the heart of Singapore. It is the city’s 15th reservoir and has a total catchment area of about 10 000 hectares. The reservoir has been successful in improving Singapore’s water system, increasing the water catchment from only a half to two thirds. The project was officially opened in late 2008 and was appointed by the Public Utilities Board however it was the vision of the first president of Singapore, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. During 2009 the reservoir was desalting and only in 2010 was it commissioned to be a freshwater reserve.

The Marina reservoir has a constant water level throughout the year so it is also used for recreational activity such as kayaking.

Water Rights


In the Australian Water Markets Report 2012-2013, the National Water Commission predicted that the total worth of water rights in the Murray-Darling Basin is about $13 billion. In 1994 the state government restructured their water laws so that it divided the land rights from the water rights. These rights now implement water entitlements and allocations, as well as trading laws. Throughout the year, the State Government allocates water against entitlements.


Singapore’s water management follows the Singapore/Malaysia water agreements. These agreements gave Singapore the full and exclusive right to draw off all the water within the designated land at Gunong Pulai. In 1963, the Public Utilities Board is a statutory board that was created under the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Among their responsibilities is coordinating the supply of electricity, piped gas, and water for Singapore. The water management in the country heavily relies on the board.


"PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency". PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency. N.p., 2017. Web. 10 Mar. 2017.

Tortajada, Cecilia. "Water Management In Singapore". N.p., 2017. Web. 11 Mar. 2017.

"About - Water Management Australia". Water Management Australia Pty Ltd. N.p., 2017. Web. 7 Mar. 2017.

"Water Information Dashboard: Water Information: Bureau Of Meteorology". N.p., 2017. Web. 17 Mar. 2017.

Created By
Arabelle Blackman

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