What role do people play in ensuring water sustainability?
Question: What role do people play in ensuring water sustainability?
Some people visit MacRitchie Reservoir for the nature hikes, kayaking and the breathtaking views from the Treetop Walk and monkey-inhabited boardwalks. Some people visit it because they are love in with the beauty of nature. But has anyone wondered why this reservoir was built in the very beginning?
Singapore has finite resources, and water is one of them. She does not have any significant, accessible natural aquifers, which led to the founding of MacRitchie Reservoir. Subsequently, many other reservoirs were built around the country, as a single source of water was insufficient to meet the nations rising demand.
Short of any reliable and proven technology, there would also be a psychological barrier in getting the public to accept recycled water. Back in the days, technology was not so advanced. There was an inability to convey the message of water conservation to its citizens effectively. Therefore, people were not educated on the importance of water conservation, and were understandably skeptical of the governments plans to reuse rainwater for drinking purposes. Over the years, with demand growing, there was a need to capture every economically viable drop of water. As Singapores population increased, the demand for water inevitably rose. Also, over the last 5 years, average nominal and real month household income for all income groups have risen (Tang, 2019), thereby leading to another issue understanding the importance of water management. With rising affluence and having more than satisfied their basic needs, complacency may creep in and people will be less mindful of the need to conserve water, as they are now more concerned with satisfying their personal needs.
The text details how far Singapore has come, from being a small port city relying on inland streams and wells, to recycling and reusing water from reservoirs using advanced technology. Along the way, government intervention was crucial in encouraging the public to play an active role in ensuring water sustainability as well.
That said, it takes two hands to clap. The public has to be receptive of the ideas the government is trying to sell them. Everything come to naught if the public is unwilling to be a part of the project.
In this day and age, empowerment is key. People have to feel empowered and know that what they are doing indeed makes a difference to society. For instance, the Waterways Watch Society (WWS), one of the non-profit organisations (NGOs) in the country, established programmes which cater to different spectrums of the public. They also organise school programmes to educate students on river pollution and beach clean-ups along the Kallang River.
This does not mean that individuals who are not in the WWS or any of the NGOs cannot play their part in this ongoing water sustainability project. Every little contribution counts, and I believe most, if not all, should play their part, starting from the comforts of their homes. For example, turning off the faucet when you are brushing your teeth, or shortening your showers. These small little efforts really do make a difference in ensuring water sustainability, even if it does not seem like it at first.
If people are motivated and feel compelled to play their role in water sustainability, then it should be a positive sign of things to come. People buying into the ideas of the government, developing that awareness and desire, and acting in the interest of the public good. However, it all become pointless if people do it for recognition. For instance, the Watermark Award gives recognition to people who have gone the extra mile to raise awareness about water and maintaining its sustainability. This should not be the case. People should be doing it on their own will, not by incentives. It is just worrying to see that people may be doing it just to gain some fame, and not for the greater good.
Henceforth, people do play a key role in ensuring water sustainability, be it the government, schools, NGOs or ordinary citizens like me. Everyones efforts, incentivised or not, is integral, and nobody should take the issue of water scarcity too lightly, for it might come back to haunt us in the future.
Tan, Y. S., Lee, T. J., & Tan, K. (2001). Clean, Green and Blue: Singapore’s Journey
Towards Environmental and Water Sustainability. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).
Kit, T. S. (2019, July 31). Monthly household income in Singapore rising faster than
expenditure, survey shows. Retrieved from