Winning Hearts and Minds to Water Reuse Singapore's NEWater Visitor Centre
To increase the use of reclaimed water and to conserve potable water for domestic consumption, PUB (Public Utilities Board), the national water agency of Singapore, made use of advanced membrane technology to further purify treated used water to produce NEWater. Using microfiltration and reverse osmosis membrane processes, the treated used water is further purified to a quality that exceeds the World Health Organization and US Environmental Protection Agency Drinking Water Standards. As an added safety measure, the water is treated with ultraviolet light disinfection before it is passed for use.
|Exterior of NEWater Visitor Center, Singapore, 2003 |
|Arrival foyer sets the stage for a pleasant, exciting sensual tour. |
|Water stairway at the Cascade Area |
NEWater is primarily being used in industries for processes and in commercial buildings for air-cooling purposes. This allows water currently used by those industries to be freed up for potable use by the general population. A small quantity of NEWater also is added into the reservoirs to be used for indirect potable use.
A Virtual Tour of The Singapore NEWater Visitor Centre: A Multisensory Experience
A virtual tour of the visitor center will provide some insight into its success. Keep in mind that while the exhibits are indeed entertaining, they are driven by clear messages and designed to produce a cohesive, controlled experience. By using different means of expression—print, video, sound, multimedia, touch, and feel effects—the NEWater message is a multisensory experience reaching across different learning styles and life experiences: young and old, computer savvy and computer illiterate.
Visitors come away from the visitor center with imprinted messages about our biological dependence, economic need, and emotional link to water. This effort promises to shape the future of water resources management for a nation renowned for its capacity to apply the best in technology to address resource limitations.
The arrival foyer is a 1,800-square-foot area where tours gather in preparation for entering the theater and exhibit area. Walls are decorated with backlit photos of water use around the world, emphasizing shortage, preciousness and the ways in which water contributes to quality of life. A soundtrack of water sounds plays softly in the background. Three 50-inch plasma video screens show a short video about water use around the globe. The video uses single-word text bullets in different languages to underscore global significance. When a tour group has assembled and the docents are ready to move it through the visitor center, the group is introduced to its virtual guide. A young woman named “Wave” appears on the video screen to introduce the “fantastic” tour about to commence and moves visitors on to the theater, whose doors then open automatically.
The tour group exits the process area into the conclusion of the visit. Group members are challenged now by an interactive game that pits them against a computer character in a contest of knowledge about water and the NEWater process. At the end, they are treated to a “celebration” video before doors open to the outside for them to descend to a cascade of NEWater. The cascade incorporates features allowing the visitors to touch and feel NEWater once again, which is all part of a very important learning journey to acceptance of NEWater.