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22/06/2021 – Event / Water / Singapore / Innovation / PUB / Sustainability

Singapore International Water Week kicks off with sustainability and innovation under the spotlight
Singapore International Water Week kicks off with sustainability and innovation under the spotlight

The Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) 2021 kicked off on Monday as a fully virtual event that will run from 21 June through to 2 July. On the first day, national water agency PUB announced a dramatic modernisation project for one of Singapore’s oldest water treatment plants.

Headlining the SIWW event on Monday was SIWW2021 Spotlight – a one-day summit that brought water leaders together to discuss and exchange ideas on innovating for a sustainable water future. 

Following this one-day event will be a power-packed SIWW2021 Online – a two-week long virtual showcase with emphasis on innovation and solutions spanning the urban water cycle, for business leaders, experts and practitioners to connect, share and learn from one another.

Sustainability and innovation focus @ SIWW2021 Spotlight

Held over two high-level plenary sessions, SIWW2021 Spotlight saw water leaders in governments, utilities, academia and industry leading discussions on how stakeholder collaborations and innovation can be harnessed to overcome challenges for water sustainability and ensure security against climate uncertainties.

Among the distinguished speakers at SIWW2021 Spotlight were Mr Heng Swee Keat, Deputy Prime Minister of Singapore and Co-ordinating Minister for Economic Policies; Mr Ahmed Aboutaleb, Mayor of Rotterdam; Mr Chew Men Leong, President of the Singapore Water Association and President, Urban Solutions, ST Engineering; Mr Steve Demetriou, Chairman and CEO of Jacobs; Mr Patrick Decker, President and CEO of Xylem; Mr Ng Joo Hee, Chief Executive of PUB, Singapore's National Water Agency; Dr Alan Ryder, Founder and CEO of RSK Group, and Mr H.P. Nanda, Global VP and GM of Dupont Water Solutions.

End-to-end coverage of the urban water cycle @SIWW2021 Online

The line-up of more than 120 thematic webinars, technical sessions, case studies and product showcases over the two weeks of SIWW2021 Online will explore a wide range of utility and industry-focused content, covering end-to-end of the urban water cycle. 

This year's SIWW has received strong interest and support from the international and local water community with more than 3,500 delegates and trade visitors, and the participation of over 50 utilities from around the world. 

Working together to ensure “water security for all”

SIWW 2021 was officially opened by Ms. Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment. In her opening address, Ms. Fu highlighted that water stresses will continue to rise with population growth and climate change, hence the need to find new and innovative ways to increase the resilience of the world's resources. 

“Water security is a long-standing issue,” she stressed. “More than ever, we need to take a global approach to develop new solutions to our water problems. We must engage in the open exchange of knowledge and innovative solutions to manage global water resources in a sustainable manner. Only by working together can we ensure water security for all.”

PUB to launch 2nd edition of Global Innovation Challenge

To this end, Singapore’s national water agency PUB actively collaborates with partners and seeks innovative water solutions and technologies globally. In the last two decades, PUB has engaged in around 660 research projects, collaborating with academic researchers, companies and utilities organisations from close to 30 countries.

PUB's first Global Innovation Challenge last year to seek innovative proposals received an overwhelming 100 submissions from 20 countries. Eight companies were awarded pilot funding, access to real-world test-beds in PUB facilities, and mentorship and commercialisation opportunities. Following this success, PUB will be launching the second edition of this challenge later this month.

Choa Chu Kang Waterworks to become state-of-the-art facility

On the first day of the event, in conjunction with SIWW2021, PUB announced that Choa Chu Kang Waterworks (CCKWW) will undergo reconstruction and be transformed into a state-of-the-art water treatment facility. Through deployment and installation of the latest water treatment technologies and smart capabilities, CCKWW – one of Singapore's oldest water treatment plants – will be dramatically advanced via the enhancement of its operations, maintenance, safety and security, with the major revamp slated for completion in 2026.

The tender to provide Professional Engineering Services for the Reconstruction of CCKWW has been awarded to engineering design and consultancy company, Binnies Singapore Pte Ltd for S$28.8 million. Binnies Singapore is required to provide detailed design, construction supervision and commissioning of the CCKWW reconstruction project for the next five years.

The plant will be upgraded with new water treatment technologies and equipment such as high rate clarifiers, an advanced membrane filtration system and highly automated chemical preparation/dosing system, replacing existing equipment and buildings that were constructed before 1981. Parts of CCKWW were earlier upgraded in 2019 with advanced water treatment processes such as ceramic membranes and ozonation-biological activated carbon filtration system. These upgraded infrastructures will not be affected by the upcoming reconstruction.

The reconstructed CCKWW is envisioned to be a fully integrated and automated plant with advanced process control capabilities to optimise plant performance, achieving an efficient resource footprint (energy, chemical and manpower) while ensuring safe water quality. A process ‘digital twin’ will be incorporated to mirror the performance of the entire plant and provide water quality predictions in real-time, serving as a decision support tool to enhance operational effectiveness while doubling up as a training simulator to continuously upskill PUB’s operators. Smart technologies and digital solutions will be adopted in its operations and maintenance – such as integrating cameras (with video analytics), headsets (to allow for real-time remote supervision) and wearable devices (with geofencing and health-monitoring functions) – via a structural digital twin to improve operational reliability, safety and security of the plant. New rooftop solar panels will also be added to the existing one-megawatt-peak system, to power its operational needs and reduce its carbon footprint (Annex D).

Exploring game-changing tech, coastal and climate resilience

Other highlights over the coming two weeks as part of this year's SIWW2021 Online include the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize Laureates Roundtable, where past LKYWP Laureates will gather for the first time to discuss ‘Game-changing Technologies for a Sustainable Water Future’. To-date, eight Laureates have been awarded this prestigious Water Prize in recognition of their contributions towards solving the world's water challenges through innovative technologies, policies or programmes.

With rising sea levels threatening Singapore's coastlines, the event has also curated several webinars on enhancing coastal resilience. ‘Dealing with the Deep Uncertainty of Sea Level Rise’, organised by PUB's Coastal Protection Department, will give participants a glimpse of the uncertainties associated with sea level rise projections, the unpredictability of climate conditions and ambiguity caused by differing and changing stakeholders' perspectives. ‘Delivering Vibrant and Climate-Resilient Coastal Communities’, co-organised by Jacobs, will share case studies on addressing the threat of rising sea levels by the Thames Estuary Asset Management 2100 Programme in London, UK and the Red Sea Project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Webinars focused on advancing water industry professionals 

There will also be new webinars centred on professions in the water industry, such as ‘Career in the Water Profession’ and ‘Celebrating Women in Engineering’, to explore and highlight the work and careers that keep the water industry running.


Targeted at youths and students, ‘A Career in the Water Profession’ offers insights on how the water sector is gearing up to meet challenges such as climate change, and demonstrates why this is an exciting time to work in the water industry. To celebrate International Women in Engineering Day on 23 June 2021, SIWW places the spotlight on outstanding female leaders in ‘Celebrating Women in Engineering’ as they discuss the challenges and highlights of their career journey, and how they are contributing to a more sustainable water future across the world today.

Innovation to Practice (I2P) sessions

The new Innovation to Practice (I2P) sessions is a content series specially created for SIWW2021 Online. 

By inviting industries and utilities to share their past experiences and challenges in adopting innovative solutions to solve real water challenges, SIWW seeks to facilitate better knowledge-exchange and learning so that more are inspired to adopt similar solutions and start on their own water innovation journeys. 

For example, in ‘I2P.1:The Journey of Innovation Implementation: Ceramic Membrane Microfiltration for Surface Treatment’, PUB will share on its journey to building the world's largest ceramic membrane water treatment plant in Singapore.


Another example is ‘I2P.8:Increased Efficiency using Digital Water Solutions for Water Utilities’, where PUB and Optiqua Technologies will share how online sensors can be used to monitor drinking water quality and detect harmful levels of contaminants in Singapore's water distribution network.


Bringing the international water community together

“Given the Covid-19 situation and international travel restrictions, we converted Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) to a fully virtual format to enable international participants to meet, exchange knowledge and create new partnerships in a safe environment,” said Mr Ryan Yuen, Managing Director of SIWW. 

“On the back of the successful pilot SIWW virtual event last year, we continued to leverage on digital capabilities to bring the international water community together and affirmed our position as the global premier platform to share and co-create urban water solutions,” he continued. 

“The comprehensive session line-up presented at SIWW2021 Online offers new insights on international best practices and innovative solutions that will help the industry navigate this new economic landscape. We thank the strong support from our partners and the international water community, and look forward to welcoming participants next year to Singapore for SIWW 2022.”

The next edition, Singapore International Water Week 2022, will be held from 17–21 April 2022 at the Sands Expo & Convention Centre in Singapore.

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