15 Jul 2015

(…) two issues are important: consumption of water, and its price. Both are related.

First, per capita water consumption in a country that now imports nearly half of its water from Johor, at 150 litres, is simply too high. The current target of reducing it to 147 litres by 2020 and 140 litres by 2030 is too modest.

Per capita water consumption in many European cities like Berlin, Barcelona, Hamburg or Munich is lower than what Singapore has targeted for 2030. In fact, Hamburg, in 2008, had a per capita consumption of 105 litres.

A significant part of reduction in these European cities has been through water pricing. Singapore’s water pricing has remained the same since 2000. In much of the Western world, water prices have been increasing at a higher rate than inflation.

In contrast, in Singapore, water prices last year were 25.5 per cent lower in real terms compared with 2000.

(…) electricity and gas prices in real terms have increased by 3.64 per cent and 2.94 per cent respectively. If water prices were indexed to inflation, per capita water consumption may have been quite a bit lower than what it is at present. However, having kept water prices constant since 2000, it will be socially and politically difficult to increase water prices in the future.

Asit K. Biswas, Distinguised Visiting Professor, and Cecilia Tortajada, Senior Research Fellow, both co-founders of the Third World Centre for Water Management, Mexico, in The Straits Times, 16 June, 2015.