Water Security & Sustainable Development

  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. Basin perspectives of IWRM: A Case Study of the Yellow River Basin in China

    Lead Researcher
    Wu Huijuan

    The Yellow River is the second-longest river in China after the Yangtze and the sixth-longest in the world. The Yellow River is also known as the cradle of Chinese civilisation and the birthplace of ancient Chinese civilisations and the most prosperous region in early Chinese history. Currently, the river drains a basin of 795,000 km2, which is home to 110 million people, approximately 9% of China’s population. As the main water source of Northwest and North China, the Yellow River, accounts for 2.2% of the total runoff of all rivers in China, but supports 12% of the nation’s population and shoulders the water-supplying duty of 15% of the irrigation area.

    For a long period of time, the Yellow River basin has been suffering from problems such as increased sedimentation, shrinkage of the main channel, the situation of ‘hanging river’, prolonged droughts and floods (WWAP, 2009, Li, 2006). With the rapid development of settlements and economic activities in the basin and surrounding areas, severe pollution combined with high demand for water from booming agriculture, industrial and urban sectors, China has been struggling to implement an integrated approach to managing the Yellow River in a sustainable manner.

  3. Chaos in Kathmandu: Perceptions of Water in Urban Setting

    Lead Researcher:
    Leong Ching

    This research project aims to help the City of Kathmandu rebuild its water utility and improve the service to its people.

    This study builds upon an earlier study that tackles how water had been supplied and used in Kathmandu from 2001 to 2014. Even though the population has doubled, the water supply to the residents remained the same. By using large storage tanks, buying from private water vendors and digging private wells, the people of Kathmandu were able to meet their water needs. However, these coping mechanisms cost every household US$18 annually on the average.

    Interestingly, despite this situation, the people reported through a survey conducted that they were largely satisfied with the water supply situation.

    This paradox is an interesting policy conundrum. What lies behind the apparent public acceptance of high coping costs? This study presents the hypothesis that much of the emotional valence of the policy lies uncaptured by economic proxies or public action – that is to say that the perception of water is not tied up to the coping cost; put alternatively, although coping costs are very high (as high as the monthly bills of developed countries) such costs have a relatively low role in the narrative of water.

  4. Do increasing block tariffs lead to water conservation? Evidence from Hangzhou, China

    Lead Researcher:
    Li Li

    This study aims to study the effects of water tariff structure on consumption behavior, by exploiting a unique policy change that was recently implemented in Hangzhou, China. Before the recent tariff change, water rates in Hangzhou has not been changed since 2005. On January 1, 2015, Increasing Block Tariffs (IBTs) were first phased in to cover the 570 thousand households who are living in buildings with less than eight floors and who have individual meters under administration of the Hangzhou Water Utility installed in their homes.

    These IBT households constitute 52% of all residential households. A small group of newly assigned-IBT households can opt out of the IBT if their house is located in an ‘urban village’ and if the house is rented. All other households, who lack individual Hangzhou Water Utility meters or live in buildings with at least eight floors, still face a uniform water rate. This status will persist so long as these households’ consumption is monitored using sub-meters administered by their specific communities (and not by the utility).

    With the change to the IBT, water tariffs have also been raised significantly.


  5. Drought Risk Management: Linking Hydro-meteorological and Socio-Economic Drought Indicators

    Lead Researcher:
    Joost Buurman

    The study will use semi-structured interviews and a survey to find the degree of correspondence between several hydro-meteorological drought indicators and drought experiences of water users in the Vu Gia – Thu Bon river basin in Central Vietnam.