Singapore's sustainability efforts receive top global ranking

Country is only one placed among two Top 10 projects--in water recycling and waste management--on KPMG's Infrastructure 100 global index.
Written by Clement Teo, Contributor

SINGAPORE--With over 50 percent of the global population living in cities and covering less than 2 percent of the planet's land area, worldwide demand for infrastructure is estimated to require investment totaling tens of trillions of dollars over the next four decades.

This is ncessary to create and maintain sustainable and highly-livable urban areas that balance the needs of the population, economy and environment.

KPMG's study, titled "Cities infrastructure: a report on sustainability", identifies five key challenges in meeting this need: water, transportation, waste, energy, and urbanization.

Water scarcity, for instance, is quickly becoming a sustainability challenge. While there is water wastage across countries, one solution is to treat waste water in order to expand the pool of usable water. Today, over 40 million cubic meters of sewage is recycled daily.

At the World Cities Summit held here this week, the consultancy ranked Singapore's Deep Tunnel Sewerage System (DTSS) among the Top 10 in its "Infrastructure 100: World Cities Edition" report, which showcases 100 of the most innovative urban infrastructure projects worldwide.

DTSS is a cost-effective and sustainable solution designed to meet Singapore's needs for the collection, treatment and disposal of used water over the next 100 years.

Phase One of the project was completed in 2008, comprising a 48 kilometer-long deep tunnel sewer that runs 20 to 55 meters below ground, spanning the north of the island to a centralized water reclamation plant in the east.

The treated water is then discharged into the sea through deep-sea outfall pipes or channeled to a NEWater--Singapore's own brand of reclaimed water--plant on the rooftop of the reclamation plant. There, it is further purified through advanced membrane technologies.

The system works entirely by gravity, eliminating the need for pumping stations and risk of used water overflows. The project also frees up land for other developments.

The next phase of DTSS looks to build another set of deep tunnel sewers leading to the western end of the island, and a second centralized water reclamation plant is underway.

Singapore, in fact, was the only country to hold two spots among the Top 10 projects in the Infrastructure 100 index--receiving recognition also for its recycling and waste management.

Satya R, partner and Asia-Pacific head of government and infrastructure at KPMG in Singapore, said in a media statement: "The rising importance in the role that cities play in a country's economy cannot be denied. However, with the ongoing global economic volatility and austerity measures, there is a need to identify innovative infrastructure solutions that deliver the required investments.

"The importance of investing in sound, smart infrastructure cannot be underestimated. Strategic infrastructure investments offer economic renewal by connecting communities, increasing jobs and encouraging long term economic growth."

Clement Teo is a freelance IT writer based in Singapore.

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