Singapore — see you in two years

The Singapore International Water Week will now follow the pattern of other international shows and take place every two years. Although the move has been welcomed by exhibitors, the annual get together in Asia's water hub will be missed.

Tom Freyberg Chief Editor
Tom Freyberg Chief Editor

The Singapore International Water Week will now follow the pattern of other international shows and take place every two years. Although the move has been welcomed by exhibitors, the annual get together in Asia's water hub will be missed.

I'm going to be honest: I'm gutted. This is because my annual pilgrimage to Singapore usually for the international water week will not be taking place next year. That's right — the show is going bi-annual and the next instalment won't be until 2014. So if this is the first time you've heard the news (which is highly unlikely by the time you read this), then I'm sorry to break it to you.

It's hard to put a finger on what makes the Singapore visit and trade event different to others. Perhaps it's the high quality of life, clean city and relaxed atmosphere that rubs off on visitors. Perhaps it's a well organised conference and event, always bursting with news and top industry professionals to bump into. Or perhaps this year it was just the impressive new venue — the Marina Bay Sands — that added extra glitz and glamour to the world of wastewater!

Either way, it seems show utility PUB's decision for the move has not been protested too much. Several exhibitors I spoke to welcomed the decision and agreed that financially, it would be easier to justify the cost every two years instead of one. And so Singapore, just like other major tradeshows — IFAT Entsorga, Wasser Berlin, Aquatech Amsterdam — has made the move. In terms of global trade shows, there is only enough room for so many in a year so it's understandable why so many are shifting. Soon we will see most shows dovetail with their competitors every other year.

In tribute to the missing show and the anticipated void in the July 2013 calendar, I thought I'd use this editorial space to summarise some of the key highlights at this year's Singapore International Water Week. So here goes.

First up, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with PUB to build an industrial wastewater reclamation plant at the Jurong Industrial Estate in Western Singapore. Another MOU was signed by PUB with Meiden Singapore (subsidiary of Meidensha of Japan) for a ceramic membrane bioreactor demonstration plant.

On the same day, PUB also announced that GE will supply membrane bioreactor technology for the expansion of its Changi Water Reclamation Plant. The facility was first constructed in 2007 to treat 800,000 m3/day. The extension will allow it to handle 860,000 m3.day.

The show was another busy one for Hyflux, launching its tri-bore membranes, which, as the name suggests have three bores per fibre instead of one. The firm also launched its HDPE hollow fibre submerged membrane bioreactor unit, as well as opening its new headquarters, known as the Innovation Centre.

Environmental biotechnologist Professor Mark Van Loosdrecht picked up the prestigious Lee Kuan Yew Prize for helping to integrate the use of Anammox in wastewater treatment. And if that wasn't enough to represent the Netherlands, water firm PWN Technologies confirmed that the year's worth of results from their ceramic membrane test centre in Singapore could change the landscape of the filtration industry.

Non-revenue water (NRW) was discussed in detail during the show, with the Asian Development Bank launching a new study. It estimated that 29 billion cubic meters of water is lost each year in Asia alone, causing utilities in the region to lose more than $9 billion in revenue each year. It suggested that a NRW rate of 20% is an achievable goal, citing the well documented Phnom Penh authority that managed to bring its lost water down to just 6% in 2008.

The Philippines' Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System announced a $1.5 billion investment programme. This mainly consisted of construction plans for a new dam to supplement supply from the Angat Dam, the sole source of water for the metropolis. Also discussed was a project funded by Manila Water and Maynilad to divert the Sumag River in Quezon to Umiray Tunnel.

It's hard to really cover and do full justice to all the announcements in the space of a single page but this short list hopefully gives an idea of the continued rate of PUB's innovation.

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