Sunday, April 28, 2013

Singaporean Updates: PUB explores groundwater in western and southern Singapore (26 Apr 2013)

Press Releases

PUB explores groundwater in western and southern Singapore

The 3-year study entails the exploration of potential new sources of water, through specialised surveying techniques and development of a groundwater flow model.

National water agency PUB has called a tender for consultancy services to study the potential of tapping aquifers1 and other underground water sources in the western and southern part of the island, in an area known as the Jurong Formation.

Titled “Groundwater resource assessment in Jurong Formation”, this three year study will be awarded in July 2013. The study comprises three key areas: 

a. Development of groundwater flow model of Jurong Formation
b. Field Investigation Programme
c. Validation Study

Over the last 50 years, through integrated water management, and investments in R&D, PUB has put in place a long-term water supply strategy called the Four National Taps. The Four National Taps comprise local catchment water, imported water, ultra-clean, high-grade reclaimed water branded as NEWater, and desalinated water. The Four National Taps has ensured a robust and sustainable water supply for Singapore.

Singapore’s water demand currently stands at approximately 400 million gallons a day (mgd), and is projected to almost double by 2060. With competing demands for land for other uses such as housing, industries and other services, it will be increasingly challenging to build new reservoirs to meet our water needs.

To enhance the long term sustainability of Singapore’s water resources, PUB is always on the lookout for new water sources. There are potential solutions in the form of naturally occurring aquifers and groundwater.

“Through this study, we are exploring the presence of deep aquifers within Singapore’s geology and if it is possible for us to tap on this water source,” said Mr Harry Seah, PUB’s Chief Technology Officer. “However, the extraction of groundwater will only be carried out if the risks of groundwater extraction can be adequately managed with no impact on existing buildings and infrastructure, which will be verified by the groundwater models to be developed through this work.” he added.  

Despite its small size, Singapore’s geology is thought to be complex, spanning rocks hundreds of millions of years in age to more recent soils and sediments. At the surface, the Bukit Timah Granite is seen in the central and northern regions, sedimentary rocks of the Jurong Formation are seen in the western and southern regions, and Old Alluvium is seen in the eastern region. Based on knowledge of other rock formations worldwide, and from observations made during engineering work, it may be possible that the Jurong Formation could host a deep, confined aquifer which could be less prone to surface pollution or subsidence.

Singapore’s geological setting indicates that there are other groundwater prospects, each with their specific advantages and challenges. This includes unconfined aquifers in the Old Alluvium, fractured rock in the Bukit Timah Granite, and confined aquifers in other rock formations of Singapore.  

Besides Singapore’s main island, PUB has embarked on a study to verify the feasibility of extracting groundwater from reclaimed land in Jurong Island. The R&D project entails assessing the potential yield and quality of groundwater, and the necessary groundwater management measures to prevent any land subsidence due to groundwater extraction. The The project has been awarded and has commenced in April 2013.

PUB is in the midst of finalising the appointment of an international Expert Panel on Hydrogeology to give guidance and direction on its underground water exploration endeavours. “This is Singapore’s first foray in the search for deep aquifers. Besides extensive examination of our underground geology, we also want to learn from and tap on the expertise of overseas experts who have vast experience studying and carrying out groundwater exploration work in other countries,” said Mr Seah.

The Expert Panel will convene at least once a year to discuss and provide advice on the two groundwater projects and any other related matters on hydrogeology.
1Aquifers may occur at various depths and can be broadly divided into two categories:  confined and unconfined aquifers. A ‘confined’ aquifer is typically deeper and separated from the surface by a low-permeability layer. In communities that use groundwater, because of the relative ease of access, ‘unconfined’ aquifers closer to the surface are typically used for water supply and irrigation.  Water quantity from unconfined aquifers is highly dependent on local rainfall. The over extraction of groundwater beyond sustainable yield may lead to problems such as seawater intrusion or even ground settlement caused by a significant lowering of the water table.

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About PUB
PUB is a statutory board under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. It is the water agency that manages Singapore’s water supply, water catchment and used water in an integrated way.

About PUB’s tagline: Water for All: Conserve, Value, Enjoy PUB has ensured a diversified and sustainable supply of water for Singapore with the Four National Taps (local catchment water, imported water, NEWater, desalinated water).

To provide water for all, PUB calls on all to play our part to conserve water, keep our water catchments and waterways clean and build a relationship with water so we can enjoy our water resources.  If we all play our part, we can have enough water for all our needs – for industry, for living, for life. 

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26 Apr 2013

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