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Singapore Drought: Save Water with no car wash - DirectAsia

Singapore's politicians have waded deep into the dry-spell debate recently, with a number of different suggestions to help us curtail our water use.

World Water Day took place on Saturday the 16th of March, kicking off a month of Public Utility Board events aimed at raising water use awareness across Singapore, under the banner 'Going Big on Saving Water'.

Turn the shower off while soaping yourself, suggested deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam at Jurong Lake; fill a mug of water for brushing your teeth with, proffered fellow deputy PM Teo Chee Hean at Marina Barrage.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin was in Geylang Serai, and asked residents to bring along two consecutive utility bills that showed a reduction in water usage of at least S$2. The first 200 residents to do so were given a S$5 voucher.

Thinking the Unthinkable

Singaporeans can take being told to brush their teeth with a mug of water, and they understand that turning the shower off whilst soaping themselves can cut water use significantly. But there’s one issue the politicians have not yet been so emboldened to tackle: the car wash.

A 60 Gallon Sponge?

In Singapore, having a clean car or motorbike is part-and-parcel of motoring. It presents a smart, clean, organised image to colleagues, and having a sparkling ride is a matter of pride in our domestic and social lives too. And given the cost of owning, running and insuring a car in Singapore, it’s understandable that we like to keep our investment shiny and clean.

Car wash using pressurised water

But with current pressures on our water supply, is washing our car every day becoming unsustainable? Of course, not all drivers wash their car every day, but a lot do – as highlighted in a recent report in the Independent.sg;

It takes between 50 and 60 gallons of water to clean a single car.

Water, Water - Everywhere

Singapore has taken huge leaps towards becoming H2O self-sufficient, with big investments in desalination plants and water recycling technologies. But there is a long way to go. We still rely on Malaysia for 60 per cent of our water, with rainfall, desalination and water reclamation carried out in Singapore itself. Dry spells like the one we're experiencing make our island state's self-sufficiency target date of 2061 all the more challenging.

Singapore's water recycling treatment tank

Outside Singapore

The current region-wide situation focusses our minds on the issues of hot, dry weather and low rainfall; the impact of forest fires in Indonesia and elsewhere means poor air quality for us, and a reduction in productivity. And with Malaysia and Indonesia's palm oil industry likely to be hard hit by dry weather, the repercussive effects on the regional economy could mean challenges for our neighbours as well as us.

Please Wash Me

It might not be easy to see the link between the regional drought and altering the way we wash our bodies or our cars – but making such small changes could have a big impact on improving the situation. There's perhaps a long way to go before your neighbour starts nodding in approval at your grubby, ecologically-friendly car – but maybe we’ll get there one day!