Asia, Engineering, Innovation, Singapore, Water

For World Water Day, learn how we are supporting Singapore by building water supply resilience in the face of acute water shortage.

Singapore is considered to be one of the most water-stressed countries in the world. They are heavily dependent on rainfall due to a lack of natural water resources, while the scarcity of land limits their ability to store it in large quantities. But as climate change continues to affect the region, higher temperatures and drier weather has created even further issues for maintaining a healthy and accessible water supply.

In their continuous mission to strengthen water supply resilience, Singapore has built the world’s first large scale dual-mode desalination plant, the Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant (KMEDP). To meet the increasing needs of the region most efficiently, KMEDP has the capacity to treat both freshwater and seawater. Capable of producing up to 36 million gallons (137,000 cubic meters) of fresh drinking water a day over a period of 25 years, KMEDP is crucial to providing Singapore with a reliable and sustainable source of clean water.

AECOM was appointed as the project engineer by Keppel Infrastructure to provide innovative solutions for overcoming the design, construction and control challenges around KMEDP. We provided process and mechanical design, testing and commissioning services, and the development of a 3D model of the proposed plant. We also created a virtual model of the KMEDP to give the client a more holistic view of the plant during construction stage and the potential for future operation and maintenance.

Located in the Marina East area of Singapore, the KMEDP is within close proximity to both the urban catchment Marina Bay reservoir and the Singapore Strait, leading to the Indian Ocean. As a world’s first, the plant is fully fitted with dual water intake, pulling water from both sources to accommodate water shortages in the area’s reservoir

Our engineering design uses a dual flow chamber link to two water source intakes. The water passes through a pre-treatment process using flocculation and dissolved air flotation, followed by ultrafiltration from a two-pass reverse osmosis system, and post-treatment using ultraviolet disinfection.

This resilient design is more energy efficient compared to a typical desalination plant since fresh water utilizes less energy than seawater during the desalination process. In addition, KMEDP also implements other features for optimized energy efficiency, such as direct coupling and permeate split.

Governed by our good design and engineering excellence, the KMEDP breaks away from conventional treatment plants. It sits against the backdrop of Singapore’s Central Business District skyline and features 215,000 square foot (20,000 square meter) of open green space on the rooftop for community recreation as well as a viewing gallery for observing the treatment process. It was also developed with environment-friendly features such as rainwater harvesting, where rainwater is collected and used to irrigate the green roof and support the facility’s water features and landscaping needs.

As climate change and other factors continue to impact conditions in communities around the world, it’s important to keep a forward-thinking approach when it comes to leveraging our resources. Innovation like KMEDP can keep the water running in areas that are heavily stricken by scarcities while providing hope that infrastructure opportunities will continue to succeed in changing the outcomes of the growing water crisis.

Photo courtesy of Keppel Corporation

Originally published 03.22.2021

Author: Dr. Chiu Kuang Ping