The theme for World Water Day 2020 today, Water and Climate Change, highlights the close relationship between the two.
Worldwide, 785 million people are short of drinking water. The United Nations says global water use has been increasing at more than twice the rate of global population growth in the last century.
Visionary leaders would work to foresee worst-case scenarios and make strategic plans to deal with them should they eventuate. But there seem to be no signs of our government preparing plans for worst-case scenarios regarding water resilience, similar to those being deployed to combat the coronavirus epidemic.
At the beginning, the water was used mainly by the industrial sector. Today it accounts for 40 per cent of Singapore’s total consumption, including drinking. The Singapore government aims to increase the use of NEWater to 55 per cent by 2060 as a way to reduce reliance on imported water.
Regarding water leakage, Singapore loses around 5 per cent of its water supply yearly, one of the lower rates among developed cities. While Hong Kong has improved a lot in this area, reducing the leak rate from over 25 per cent in 2000 to 15 per cent in 2018, it is clear that Hong Kong still wastes a lot of fresh water.
According to the Ombudsman’s report released in 2018, the volume of leaked water is enough to meet the needs of 2 million people for a year, and costs taxpayers HK$530 million.The administration of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor must treat water shortage as a life-threatening issue similar to other serious health risks, like the current coronavirus pandemic.
Edwin Lau Che-Feng, executive director, The Green Earth
This article originally published in SCMP, Reprinted with permission from the author