Singapore, the city-state with the world's largest population of millionaires, faces a consistent water-shortage issue. In order to provide fresh, potable water to its citizens, government officials have been investing more and more in technology that makes waste water from the toilet potable.
Though Singapore is a very wealthy city-state, it is also very small. The entirety of its borders is roughly equal to the size of Hamburg, Germany. This severely limits the amount of water that can be taken from reservoirs and natural sources. While there is a large amount of water in underground reserves, the land in the small island is so expensive that it's not economically feasible to get it.
George Madhavan, of Singapore's Public Utility Boards, said, "In bigger countries, lakes and rivers provide the fresh water supply, and there's enough space to collect and store water. But Singapore is so small, it can't take advantage of those options."
Singapore also gets more than two meters of rainfall each year, higher than twice the world's average, but this only accounts for 30 percent of the thriving country's water needs. Desalination of sea water, though effective, is also too expensive to be used nationwide. In order to supply its citizens with fresh water, government officials had to look elsewhere.
The most cost effective and efficient method of producing water in the country is now recycling waste water. In order to produce massive amounts of fresh water, Singapore uses a system called 'NEWater.' The four NEWater plants in the country already provide a third of the nation's water, an impressive 430 million liters per day. The country expects half of its drinkable water to be NEWater by 2060.
Though other countries like the United States, Spain and Israel use recycled drinking water, none do to the extent that Singapore does. The country has quickly become a leader in producing a resource considered a shrinking commodity by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon among others, according to The Straits Times.
The actual process of changing toilet water into drinking water is not taken lightly. The water is filtered several times to remove any waste matter, as well as bacteria and viruses. Through reverse osmosis, the water is filtered again. Finally, it is subjected to ultra-violet disinfection. The final product is exceeds United Nations Purity standards, according to Deutsche Welle.
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