NEWater & desalinated water sources ensure S'pore is resilient to El Niño in coming months: Grace Fu

Stay hydrated.

Fiona Tan | September 20, 2023, 06:52 PM



Singapore is likely to experience drier and warmer weather in the next one to two months due to El Niño.

However, the country's diverse sources of water and food supply will ensure that it remains resilient against this weather phenomenon, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said.

Drier and warmer weather

Fu stated this in a written parliamentary reply to Workers' Party's Aljunied Group Representation Constituency (GRC) Member of Parliament (MP) Gerald Giam on Sep. 19, 2023.

Giam asked Fu about how the El Niño weather pattern will affect Singapore in the coming year.

He also wanted to know if the government has made preparations for a drier Singapore, and the effects on the water supply from both the local catchment and imported water.

Fu replied that the El Niño conditions will likely bring drier and warmer weather to Singapore in the next one to two months.

The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) announced on Aug. 11 the start of El Niño in Singapore, reported The Straits Times.

Fu stated that El Niño is expected to last till at least early 2024 — March 2024 to April 2024 could see the warmest temperatures.

El Niño, a large-scale climate phenomenon over the tropical Pacific Ocean, typically brings drier and warmer weather to much of Southeast Asia, but may also cause heavy rains or extreme weather events in other parts of the world.

Singapore's NEWater and desalinated water are weather-resilient

While drier and warmer weather may impact Singapore's water supply from local catchment and imported water, Singapore has two more water sources, or National Taps.

Unlike the first two national taps, Fu stated that the other two sources, NEWater and desalinated water, are "weather-resilient sources".

She added: "PUB has invested and will continue investing for the long term to strengthen our water security and drought resilience amidst the effects of climate change."

She also urged people to use water wisely in order to "contribute to the sustainability of our water resource".

El Niño and food supply

People's Action Party (PAP) MP for Holland-Bukit Timah GRC Edward Chia also posed a parliamentary question to Fu regarding El Niño.

Chia asked Fu how the warmer sub-surface ocean temperatures caused by El Niño will impact local farm yields and Singapore's imported food supply.

Fu responded in a separate written reply that extreme weather events can cause crop loss and adversely affect food security.

While the government is unable to ascertain El Niño's specific impact on food production, Singapore is highly dependent on food imports.

The country imports 90 per cent of its food, and "are not able to isolate ourselves from global food supply disruptions", Fu said.

Besides extreme weather events, geopolitical tensions or decisions by foreign governments could also disrupt the global food supply, Fu stated.

Nevertheless, Fu added that Singapore safeguards against any disruptions by diversifying its food sources:

"Our multi-pronged approach to food security through diversifying our import sources, producing locally and stockpiling essential food items remains relevant and effective in mitigating the impact of a wide range of disruptions."

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