Water: From Scarce Resource to National Asset – the inaugural publication in the Singapore Urban Systems Studies Booklet Series – recounts Singapore’s remarkable water story. Although surrounded by water, the island of Singapore is one of the world’s most water-stressed countries. Singapore’s water system involves a delicate balancing act on two fronts. Firstly, the country seeks to maintain its imported water supply from Malaysia, while ceaselessly exploring alternative sources through technology and public mobilisation. Secondly, it has to balance land requirements for water catchments with competing needs for housing and industry. As an expensive commodity, water is priced to reflect not just the high cost of storage, processing and distribution, but also its strategic value. Public education and community engagement were also used to manage demand. This study also examines how Singapore achieved a paradigm shift in its water management by using new technologies, such as membranes and desalination, new drainage and flood control systems, as well as innovations such as building reservoirs in urban areas.
The Singapore Urban Systems Studies Booklet Series draws on original Urban Systems Studies research by the Centre for Liveable Cities, Singapore (CLC) into Singapore’s development over the last half-century. The series is organised around domains such as water, transport, housing, planning, industry and the environment. Developed in close collaboration with relevant government agencies and drawing on exclusive interviews with pioneer leaders, these practitioner-centric booklets present a succinct overview and key principles of Singapore’s development model.