Water – or the lack of it or misuse of it – is in the news, again. The all too real scenario in the face of potential water shortages and water stress. In a recent white paper on Tourism and Water, the implications of water shortages for the tourism industry, and the role played by tourism in Asia-Pacific in water management were professionally explored. Managing water well is a strong suit of Singapore, though future water supply will be heavily dependent on energy supply – and using less energy to produce more water – as pointed out by Singapore’s Minister for the Environment and Water Resources at a recent World Water Day event. Read more
Water White Paper Gives Tourism Industry Call-To-Action
In eGlobal travel media (25 March 2013):
Potential water shortages and water stress will present a significant threat to the future growth and development of the tourism industry in the Asia Pacific region states a white paper on Tourism and Water released in Singapore.
The international white paper was prepared by a leading research consortium supported by the EarthCheck Research Institute based in Australia, together with Ecolab, the global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies.
Dr. Susanne Becken, professor of Sustainable Tourism at Griffith University, together with Dr. Raj Rajan, vice president of Global Sustainability for Ecolab, presented the findings of the white paper at a special World Water Day and International Year of Water Cooperation Distinguished Lecture coordinated by the Banyan Tree Global Foundation.
The white paper provides a global context on water stress, availability and stewardship, and discusses the implications for the tourism industry along the three dimensions of cost, availability and quality.
“The cost of water is likely to increase, and legislation that will initiate some form of water footprint is conceivable, if not inevitable,” says Professor Becken. “Businesses that are prepared to audit and manage their water consumption will have a competitive business advantage for the expected changes in water regulation and control.”
Increasing water scarcity, Professor Becken explained, not only increases regional risk to climate change, but also often leads to conflict. According to UNDCWS (2012), there were more than 120,000 water-related disputes since 1990 in China alone.
The white paper explains that with the ongoing growth in tourism visitation, the Asia-Pacific tourism region must increase understanding of the role it needs to play in water management issues. PATA predicts more than a half billion international visitors to the region in in 2014.
“Forward-looking hospitality businesses are working to address water consumption and minimize impacts to local communities,” said Dr. Raj Rajan, vice president of Research, Development and Engineering for Ecolab, and a prominent contributor to the white paper. “The white paper encourages hospitality businesses in the Asia Pacific region to take a holistic systems approach to identifying and implementing water efficiency and conservation measures.”
The paper outlines how water efficiency can be achieved and undertakes a benchmarking review of hotels in the Asia Pacific using EarthCheck data. The benchmarks highlight important geographic, behavioural and operational differences across the region, which require further investigation.
The EarthCheck Research Institute will follow this white paper with two further research reports that will address water use benchmarks and baselines for hotels together with models to guide operational best practice.
S’pore’s next challenge: ‘Treating more seawater with less energy’
By David Ee in The Straits Times (23 March 2013):
EVEN if Singapore realises its quest to supply all of its own water, it faces another challenge: acquiring the energy it takes to produce the water.
That was the point raised by Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan at yesterday’s book launch of The Singapore Water Story, which chronicles the country’s rise to becoming a world leader in water management.
“Singapore has to realise that, in fact, we have translated a dependence on water to a dependence on energy…as long as you’ve got energy, you’ve got water,” said the minister at the National University of Singapore’s Bukit Timah campus.
The technologies employed in water treatment here today, for example, reverse osmosis, require substantial amounts of energy.
The Minister explained that as the country becomes more water self-sufficient, this “simply substitutes one strategic vulnerability for another”.
To meet its energy challenge, Singapore will have rely on the same things that worked in its water story – political resolve, a clear vision, the right pricing, and a commitment to technology.
Today, Singapore produces at least 40 per cent of its own water needs – with three quarters coming from reclaimed Newater, and the rest from treated seawater.
National water agency PUB wants this to double to 80 per cent by 2060.
Reverse osmosis, the most common method to treat seawater here, typically uses up to 4.5 kilowatt hours to produce 1,000 litres of desalinated water.
That is enough energy to power an HDB flat for several hours.
But PUB is seeking to reduce these levels with new technologies. For example, it is working with Keppel Seghers to develop Memstill technology, which uses waste heat to treat seawater. The process can reduce energy use by up to two-thirds.
It is also exploring longer term solutions such as bio-mimicry, which copies the way some plants and animals treat seawater for their survival, using negligible amounts of energy.
By 2060, Singapore’s water usage could double to almost 800 million gallons a day, enough to fill more than 1,200 Olympic-size swimming pools each day.