Water Science and Public Policy

  1. Take-up and Impact of Real-time Feedback for Water Conservation: A Pilot Among Households with High-baseline Use in Showering

    Lead Researcher
    Leong Ching
    Year Awarded:

    The Four National Taps, i.e. imported water, catchment areas, recycled and desalinated water have given Singapore access to clean, safe water at a turn of a tap. However, it is equally important to manage water demand going ahead. The Singapore Public Utility Board's (PUB) Water Conservation Strategy  has several programmes in place to manage water demand in both the domestic and non-domestic sector.  Over the years, the efforts in water conservation have seen Singapore’s per capita domestic water consumption drop from 165 litres per day in 2003 to 150 litres currently. PUB aims to reduce daily per capita domestic consumption of water to 147 litres by 2020, and to 140 litres by 2030.

    A study shows that taking a shower is the single largest source of domestic water consumption, accounting for 29% of water usage in a typical Singaporean household.

    The research project proposes a large-scale randomised controlled trial, testing the willingness to adopt a real-time feedback device that helps households conserve water in showering. The device has previously been tested in a field experiment in Singapore and has proven to be effective.

    This project is also an extension of existing research at the Institute of Water Policy on institutional change and the role of emotions in public policy. If successful, this project will form the basis of an immediately implementable cost-effective and scalable policy.

  2. Formulating for Resilience – Sustainable Water and Energy Use and the Customization of Policy Design for Haze Management and Mitigation

    Lead Researcher
    Michael Howlett
    Year Awarded:

    Transboundary environmental pollution presents a critical policy problem in the ASEAN region due to the tripartite nature of its inherent environmental, health and political risks.  Transboundary pollution can take many forms. It mainly results from human-driven activities such as the upstream construction of a dam leading to sedimentation of rivers and other water sources in downstream nations; the leaching of hazardous industrial wastes into water sources that are pertinent to multiple bordering jurisdictions; smoke pollution from fires caused due to unsustainable land-clearing practices in one nation  severely deteriorating the air quality of adjoining countries, and often creating erratic spikes in water and energy use.  

    In Singapore, the task of devising robust policy solutions has become even more pertinent as domestic water use and energy demand can spike as a way to deal with episodes of haze - that although may occur at predictable times of the year- are happening  with increasingly unpredictable and often unprecedented intensities. Therefore, not only does the haze result in health implication due to air quality deterioration, it also has had a distinct impact on water demand and electricity use. 

    As a response to the haze crisis, the design of the Singapore Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) represents a first-of-its-kind individual country policy response in Asia for governing pollution emanating from sources outside of its jurisdiction (GoS 2014). Customized to address the management of haze impacts on local environmental contexts, it is a policy package that at present is centred on using indicators such as the air-quality index to govern the magnitude of the state’s response to haze events. However, as a novel policy platform it also presents a distinct opportunity to address and strengthen the state’s water and energy resilience policy targets, a distinction that makes the formulation and implementation design of the THPA a promising case for the academic research on policy design studies.