NEWater twenty years on…




IN FOCUS: A story of how a team poured their heart and soul into enhancing Singapore’s water supply and what’s next for NEWater

Twenty years ago, NEWater marked its public debut at the National Day Parade – a feat that would not have been possible if not for a team of engineers and technicians who gave their all. CNA tells their story.

SINGAPORE: As familiar tunes of patriotic songs played across the National Stadium on the afternoon of Aug 9, 2002, tens of thousands of people dressed in red and white rose from their seats to toast the country. 

Each was carrying a bottle of NEWater.

Cheering to Singapore’s success and its future, more than 60,000 people raised their bottles before taking a swig of the water, which is recycled from used supplies after going through a comprehensive cleaning process.

At home, thousands of viewers took in the scenes as they watched the parade on their television sets.

It was a powerful image and one that would be forever etched in the minds of those who worked tirelessly for years to realise Singapore’s ambition of having a sustainable source of water.

But despite the inspiring scenes, the only thing Mr Harry Seah could think about at that moment was how terribly wrong things could go.

“We could not even afford a single mistake because it was all about perception and it was on the national stage,” said Mr Seah, who led the NEWater project.

Today, NEWater is also an integral part of Singapore’s water sustainability plan, and a successful case study for integrated water management internationally.






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