Top international honours for Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB at Global Water Awards

Top international honours for Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB at Global Water Awards
Officially opened by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on 4 Feb 2021, the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant is Singapore’s first large-scale dual-mode desalination plant, capable of treating either seawater or freshwater from the Marina Reservoir. Image: Keppel

PUB named ‘Resilient Water Agency of the Year’ for its robust response to Covid-19 challenges; Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant recognised as the ‘Desalination Plant of the Year’ for innovative dual-mode capability that strengthens Singapore’s water security 

Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB has been named ‘Resilient Water Agency of the Year’ at the Global Water Awards 2021, a recognition conferred by the international water community for its robust efforts in ensuring water security for Singapore, even amidst challenges posed by the global Covid-19 pandemic. In addition, Singapore’s newest desalination plant, the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant (KMEDP) was conferred the ‘Desalination Plant of the Year’ Award, in recognition of its innovative capability to treat both seawater and freshwater from the surrounding reservoir. 

  • Established by the Global Water Intelligence (GWI) in 2006, the annual Global Water Awards recognise the most important achievements in the international water industry and rewards initiatives in the water, used water and desalination sectors, that are moving the industry forward through improved operating performance, innovative technology adoption and sustainable financial models.
  • The ‘Resilient Water Agency of the Year’ is a new award category to recognise government agencies or water utilities that have offered the most robust or innovative response to the unique challenges of 2020 for the water and used water sector. The three other nominees in this category were Anglian Water in the United Kingdom, Gruppo Hera in Italy, and the Orange County Water District in USA. 
  • The ‘Desalination Plant of the Year’ recognises the most impressive technical or ecological desalination plant commissioned in 2020. The three other nominees were the Al Dur 2 IWPP (Bahrain), Khobar I SWRO (Saudi Arabia), ZPC Seawater Desalination Project (China).
  • These awards also mark PUB’s fourth consecutive win at the annual In 2019, the PUB-owned Tuas Desalination Plant was conferred ‘Desalination Plant of the Year’ while the Ulu Pandan Wastewater Treatment Demonstration Plant was named ‘Water/Wastewater Project of the Year’ in 2018. Last year, the upgraded Choa Chu Kang Waterworks, home to the world’s largest ceramic membrane system, was named the ‘Water Project of the Year’. These awards are testament to PUB’s commitment towards operational excellence, with continual investments in innovation and technology in its vison to becoming a Smart Utility of the future.

Ensuring water resilience for Singapore

  • When the Covid-19 pandemic struck early last year, PUB swung into action swiftly and initiated a crisis management plan to ensure all our plants and operations continue to function as usual. As water is an essential service to the whole nation, it is PUB’s utmost priority to keep our staff safe from the virus and to keep the water system ticking PUB implemented split-team arrangements, staggered work hours, as well as safe-distancing and sanitation measures at all workplaces, while remote working arrangements were made available for the other half of its 3,500-strong workforce who were able to telecommute.
  • PUB also had to respond quickly to manpower challenges and take proactive steps to ensure sufficient stockpile of materials and supplies for our operations, maintenance and construction projects. As a result, Singapore’s water system has not missed a beat – taps continue to flow, toilets flush at a push, and drains and reservoirs continue to function as they

Forging ahead with key projects to strengthen water resilience

  • Despite these challenges, PUB pressed on and made headway on three major projects that will strengthen resource resilience and water security for Singapore:
  • Commenced operations at Singapore’s fourth desalination plant (Jun 2020): The Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant (KMEDP) is Singapore’s first large-scale dual- mode desalination plant capable of producing 137,000 cubic metres (or 54 Olympic- size swimming pools) of fresh drinking water per day. The plant is able to treat either seawater or freshwater from the Marina Desalinated water is a weather-resilient water source and the completion of KMEDP is a major boost to Singapore’s water security.
  • Commenced construction of floating solar farm on Tengeh Reservoir (Aug 2020): PUB and Sembcorp began construction of the 60 megawatt-peak (MWp) floating solar photovoltaic system (approximately 45 football fields) on Tengeh Reservoir, believed to be one of the largest in the world. This is a major step towards harnessing renewable solar energy for water treatment and reducing carbon The amount of clean energy generated will be sufficient to power PUB’s local water treatment plants, offsetting 7 per cent of PUB’s annual energy needs.
  • Commenced first-phase construction on Tuas Nexus, Singapore’s first integrated water and solid waste treatment facility (Sep 2020): The greenfield project houses two mega facilities – PUB’s Tuas Water Reclamation Plant (Tuas WRP) and NEA’s Integrated Waste Management Facility (IWMF) – to harness synergies from used water and solid waste, with the by-product of one facility being used as a resource for another. These synergies are expected to reduce more than 200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to taking 42,500 cars off Singapore’s roads. This energy self-sufficient nexus is an important step towards maximising Singapore’s energy, resource recovery and optimise land
  • “As the pandemic grew in 2020, PUB has been focused on achieving two outcomes – keeping our staff and workers safe from the virus and keeping Singapore’s water system running smoothly. Because we have been quick to act, nimble in adjusting, and able to coordinate as one, PUB continues to accomplish our water mission, in spite of a raging pandemic and an uncertain business environment. The commencement of operations at the Keppel Marina East Desalination plant, with its dual-mode capability, has further strengthened Singapore’s water security, adding a weather-resilient source of water in the face of climate change”, said Mr Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive, PUB, Singapore’s National Water
  • “The Global Water Awards recognise the most important achievements in the international water industry, and reward those initiatives in the water, wastewater and desalination sectors that are moving the industry I would like to congratulate PUB, for being named the ‘Resilient Water Agency of the Year’, a new category to honour the tireless and often unseen behind-the-scenes efforts by our water agencies in ensuring uninterrupted water services during 2020’s Covid-19 challenges. while keeping its staff and customers safe with a comprehensive crisis management plan. I would also like to congratulate Singapore’s Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant, for being named the Desalination Plant of the Year, for setting a new standard for desalination, by optimising energy-efficiency and resource-efficiency with its dual-mode capabilities to treat both seawater and freshwater,” said Mr Christopher Gasson, Publisher of Global Water Intelligence.


For media queries, please contact:

Hana Schoon

PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency Tel: +65 6731 3987 / 8322 8922


About PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency

PUB is a statutory board under the Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment (MSE). It is the national water agency, which manages Singapore’s water supply, water catchment, and used water in an integrated way. From April 2020, PUB also took on the responsibility of protecting Singapore’s coastline from sea-level rise as the national coastal protection agency.

PUB has ensured a diversified and sustainable supply of water for Singapore with the Four National Taps (local catchment water, imported water, NEWater, desalinated water). PUB leads and coordinates whole-of-government efforts to protect Singapore from the threat of rising seas and the holistic management of inland and coastal flood risks.

PUB calls on everyone to play a part in conserving water, in keeping our waterways clean, and in caring for Singapore’s precious water resources. If we all do our little bit, there will be enough water for all our needs – for commerce and industry, for living, for life.

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