Water Desalination, Purification & Wastewater Treatment



A lack of clean water and environmental degradation are acute problems in Asia – a region home to more than half of the world population, many of whom live in crowded urban spaces. This presents vast opportunities for the environment and water industries to address and serve these needs in Asia.

Singapore has come a long way since its water rationing days in the 1960s. Faced with the challenge of water scarcity, Singapore has been motivated to constantly innovate and develop new water management and treatment technologies such as water reclamation and seawater desalination. Over the last four decades, Singapore has established a sustainable water supply from diversified sources known as the Four National Taps - water from local catchment areas, imported water, reclaimed water (NEWater) and desalinated water. Alongside these developments, an innovative environment and water industry has flourished.

With a growing emphasis on water and the environment worldwide, Singapore is well positioned to take global leadership as an innovator and provider of solutions in this industry.


The environment and water industry was identified as a key growth industry for Singapore. In 2006, the government committed S$330 million to fund innovation and capability development in the industry.  In 2011, an additional S$140 million was allocated, bringing the total amount committed to S$470 million. With these commitments, the industry should see its value-added contribution to the GDP grow from S$0.5 billion in 2003 to S$1.7 billion in 2015. Jobs for this industry are expected to double to about 11,000.

The Environment and Water Industry Programme Office (EWI) – an interagency body led by PUB, the national water agency, and the Economic Development Board (EDB) - was also set up in 2006 to steward the R&D funding and spearhead efforts to grow the industry. Chief among these efforts was to attract more water companies to establish their business activities in Singapore. These activities include R&D, regional headquarters, sales & marketing, supply chain management, product development, procurement and manufacturing. EWI would also help Singapore-based companies and research institutes develop and commercialise cutting-edge technologies and solutions, before exporting globally.

Water Industry
Today, Singapore is recognised as a ‘Global Hydrohub’ with about 180 water companies. These companies represent the entire value chain of the water industry, spanning from upstream component players (e.g.membrane and pumps manufacturers), equipment OEMs, and system integrators, to downstream EPC players and project developers.

Environment Industry
Beyond water, Singapore is also nurturing the environmental industry which includes environmental consultancy, waste management and pollution control. Companies like Suez, Veolia, Kurita and Golder Associates have established their presence in Singapore.


Singapore is an ideal springboard for environmental and water companies looking to serve the region. We have attracted companies from across the world. As of 2015, there are over 180 water companies and 26 private research centres in Singapore.

Some international players include,

  • GE Water, Black & Veatch, Evoqua, CH2M Hill and Xylem from the Americas

  • PWN Technologies, Arcadis, DHI and Veolia from Europe

  • Memstar, Nitto Denko, Toray Industries and Kurita from Asia

We also see local companies getting onto the world stage. They include large players such as,

  • Hyflux, a leading global water solutions provider,
  • Sembcorp Industries, a world leading water utility company and the largest waste management company in Southeast Asia,
  • United Envirotech, is a leading technology driven, membrane-based water & wastewater treatment and reclamation solution provider and
  • Boustead Salcon, a leading international water and wastewater engineering specialist.

And Singapore-based start-ups such as,

  • NanoSun, HydroVision Asia, Aquaporin Asia, Visenti, Fluigen and MINT

Singapore has been at the forefront of environmental innovation and was an early adopter of innovative solutions such as NEWater (wastewater reclamation) and the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System. Today, water and waste treatment technology developed in Singapore are increasingly being applied in markets overseas. Leading global players such as Black & Veatch and CH2M Hill are taking advantage of reference projects garnered in Singapore to address projects around the world. Hyflux, having built two desalination plants in Singapore, has gone on to build one of the world’s largest seawater reverse osmosis desalination plants in Algeria.


To develop future-oriented solutions in meeting environment and water needs, Singapore has set up publically-funded research Centres of Excellence (CoE) at the Nanyang Technology University (NTU) and National University of Singapore (NUS). In 2013, Lux Research ranked NUS and NTU the number 1 and 2 universities in the world respectively for water research. Singapore excelled particularly in the fields of membrane, water reuse and desalination.

The Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) at NTU comprises 4 Centres of Excellence (CoE) which spearheads research in membranes, modelling & waste. NEWRI is gaining traction as the most comprehensive and integrated environment and water research institute in the world.

NUS Environmental Research Institute (NERI) – NUS’ point-of-contact for industry and institutions for environment and water research. The institute brings together researchers and expertise from across NUS.

NUSDeltares – A platform which brings together best-in-class researchers from the National University of Singapore and leading Dutch applied research institute Deltares to address challenges in Urban Water Management, Climate Adaptation and High Density Living from catchment to coast.

Public-Private Partnerships
Partnerships between the government and companies have played a key role in Singapore’s sustainability and urban solutions agenda. To foster such partnerships, Singapore has positioned itself as a ‘Living Laboratory’, by availing its national urban infrastructure to companies both local and foreign, to develop, test and commercialise innovative solutions. This allows the government to harness the best technologies and solutions introduced by the companies.

Companies benefit from using Singapore as a reference market to develop and sharpen their solutions before scaling up to markets in Asia and the rest of the world. This has been the approach that has enabled Singapore to build up key strengths in its water management solutions, amongst other areas. This has led to the Public Utilities Board (PUB) in Singapore jointly piloting over 150 projects with leading water players such as Suez Environnement, Anaergia and Meidensha, over the past eight years.


Leveraging Singapore’s position as a global business hub and marketplace for green solutions, the biennial Singapore International Water Week (SIWW) brings together international policymakers, industry leaders, experts and practitioners to address challenges, showcase technologies, discover opportunities, and celebrate achievements. Held in conjunction with the World Cities Summit and CleanEnviro Summit Singapore, the sixth SIWW took place from 1 to 5 June 2014 attracted more than 20,000 participants from 133 countries/region.

They include prominent global water leaders and decision-makers from the government, international organisations and corporate sector such as, Chen Lei, Minister of Water Resources, China; Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, United Arab Emirates; Melanie Schultz van Haegen-Maas Geesteranus, Minister for Infrastructure and Environment, The Netherlands; Angel Gurria, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and Michel Jarraud, Chair of UN-Water.

A record S$ 14.5 billion in total value was made for all the announcements on projects awarded, tenders, investments and R&D collaborations during the week.

The 2016 event will be held from 10 - 14 July 2016. For more details, please visit www.siww.com.sg.

More Resources »


  • Within four decades, Singapore has transformed its vulnerability in water into its strength with the development of major national water projects such as NEWater, the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System and the Marina Barrage.
  • The city-state has also over the years established a diversified and sustainable water supply through four different sources known as the Four National Taps (water from local catchment areas, imported water, reclaimed water known as NEWater and desalinated water).
  • Recognising the Environment and Water sector as an opportunity that could be nurtured into an economic growth engine, in 2006, the Government set up the Environment & Water Industry Programme Office (EWI) to spearhead the development of the industry. Since then, a total of S$470 million has been committed to develop Singapore’s research capabilities on environment and water solutions.
  • Efforts to grow the industry have been successful since EWI’s inception - the number of companies more than doubled, from 50 in 2006 to about 180 today. There are also 28 public and private R&D centres conducting research in various areas of water technology.
  • NUS and NTU have been recognised respectively as #1 and #2 universities in water research globally.


Mr GOH Chee Kiong

Mr GOH Chee Kiong

Executive Director
Cleantech and
Cities, Infrastructure
& Industrial Solutions

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