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The Early Years  

Tan Kim Seng Fountain at the Esplanade.
A donation of $13,000 by philanthropist, Mr Tan Kim Seng in 1857 heralded the start of Singapore’s piped water supply.An earth embankment completed in 1867 to impound water created Singapore’s first reservoir. Then known as Thomson Road Reservoir, it was later renamed MacRitchie Reservoir. A second reservoir, Peirce Reservoir was completed by 1910.

In 1920s, work began on Seletar Reservoir. Permission was also granted by the Johor Government to look into a supply of water from Johor.In 1924, work began on the Gunong Pulai Scheme which comprised Gunong Pulai and Pontian Reservoirs, a pumping station, a treatment works and a pipeline to Singapore.

Plans to develop the water resources of Johor River were interrupted by the outbreak of World War II. Tebrau Waterworks was completed in 1953 and a pipeline was laid to convey the water to Singapore.

The opening ceremony of Gunong Pulai dam on 23 March 1929.

Expansion After Independence

The Public Utilities Board was inaugurated on 1 May 1963 to take over the responsibility of providing electricity, water and piped gas from the former City Council.

Over the last 3 decades, several major water supply projects were undertaken by the Board to develop new water resources to support Singapore’s rapid housing and industrialisation programmes.

In Johor, the Scudai River Scheme and Johor River Scheme were completed in the mid 1960s. Both schemes consist of a river intake and treatment plant and a pumping station. A pipeline was laid from Johor River Waterworks to convey treated water to Singapore.

In 1975, two major water supply schemes were completed. The first was the Upper Peirce Scheme which entailed the construction of a dam at the upper reaches of the old Peirce Reservoir (which was renamed Lower Peirce Reservoir).

The second was the Kranji/Pandan Scheme which
comprised Kranji Reservoir, created by damming the estuary of Kranji River, and Pandan Reservoir, by building a dyke to enclose a mangrove swamp. Another major scheme, the Western Catchments Scheme was completed in 1981. Four rivers - Murai, Poyan, Sarimbun and Tengeh were dammed and converted into reservoirs.

In 1986, the Sungei Seletar/Bedok Water Scheme was completed. The scheme involved the damming of Sungei Seletar to form a reservoir (Lower Seletar Reservoir), creation of Bedok Reservoir from a former sand quarry and construction of Bedok Waterworks. Its unique feature was the construction of nine stormwater collection stations to tap the storm runoffs of the surrounding urbanised catchments. Eight of these collection stations are ponds at Yishun, Tampines, Bedok and Yan Kit new towns.

In the 1980s, the treatment capacities of Scudai Waterworks and Johor River Waterworks were extended. A pipeline from Johor River Waterworks to Singapore, across the Straits of Johor, was also completed.
In 1988, work commenced on the Linggiu Reservoir project in Johor. This project, which involved the construction of a dam across Sungei Linggiu, a tributary of the Johor River, and other saddle embankments and ancillary works was completed in 1993. In conjunction with the Linggiu project, another pipeline was laid to convey water from Johor River Waterworks to Singapore.
To enhance the operational efficiency and reliability of the treatment and distribution of water, the waterworks, pumping stations and service reservoirs in Singapore, are remotely monitored and controlled from a System Control Centre.
Woodleigh System Control Centre.

Future Plans
To augment Singapore's water supply, the Public Utilities Board has plans to further collect stormwater from residential new town developments as well as capture surface runoffs from highly urbanised catchments. PUB is also looking into additional water supply from desalination of seawater. Desalination has become a feasible option due to rapid technological advancements in the last few years, resulting in lowering of costs. PUB will be purchasing desalinated water from the private sector through a Build-Own-Operate project. Desalinated water supply is targeted to be available in 2005.

Since May 2000, PUB has commissioned and been operating an advanced water treatment plant using the latest membrane technology including reverse osmosis to treat used water. The high quality product water is suitable for supply to the industrial users that require copious amount of water for their processes for non-potable use. This will help to diversify our water sources and also meet the demand using potable water substitution.