Have you ever had to drink water straight from the tap? For some of us in the world, this isn’t even next to imaginable.
Singapore’s tap water is actually one of the cleanest in the world. We are the only one of the six countries in Asia where it is safe to drink water right from the tap.
Is filtered water necessary in Singapore? With such high tap water quality, why would one need to invest in a household filtration system?
Here are 5 surprising facts about Singapore’s tap water quality. They include the issues no one talks about.. and the strange reason why almost everyone in Singapore buys a water filter. Let’s get right to it.
1. We Exeed WHO Guidelines For Water Quality
According to the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s tap water meets the drinking water standards outlined in the Singapore Environmental Public Health Regulations of 2019. But that’s not all..
Our tap water exceeds the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for Drinking-Water Quality.
This means that you can conveniently fill a glass of drinking water from any running tap. There is no need for further filtration as the water supply is clean and safe.
2. Layers And Layers Of Water Tests
PUB determines the safety of drinking tap water often. They do this through a rigorous collection, sampling, and analysis process. These samples come from reservoirs, service reservoirs, waterworks, and distribution networks. PUB’s Water Quality Lab analyses these samples to ensure their safety for drinking.
Singapore also monitors water quality at every stage of the water treatment phase. More than 500,000 tests are conducted each year. The water meets the recommended organic, inorganic, physical, radiological, and microbiological parameters. This is how clean, potable, and drinkable water is piped to the nation every day.
PUB encourages drinking straight from the tap, without a filtration system.
So why are people using water filters here? That brings us to the first point of contention..
3. Potentially Alarming Water Problems
I guess we are a kiasu-kiasi bunch. Despite all the efforts, not all Singaporeans warm up to the idea of drinking tap water. Some savvy citizens have noted that not all water systems fall under the PUB’s keen eye.
Slack Building Managements
Water tanks in private buildings are managed by separate entities that do not fall under PUB. Though it is mandatory to get a Licensed Plumber to inspect these tanks, this is not always done.
Too Much Chlorine
The chlorine content of Singapore’s water supply is higher than most countries. This prevents bacteria and mitigates the transmission of waterborne diseases. The downside? Some consumers find the smell of chlorinated tap water too strong and refuse to drink it.
In some parts of Singapore, water may also appear discoloured. A yellowish-brown colour has been known to smear the cloth filters of kitchen taps. This is a cause for some anxiety among the aunties.
These could be why some prefer to order bottled water or buy water filters.
4. Bottled Water Is A Bad Solution
Understandably, some consumers have growing concerns over Singapore’s tap water safety.
This is the reason why many of them still choose to buy water filters or drink store-bought bottled water.
Bottled water sales once exploded from 2013 and 2018, seeing a more than 20% increase year on year. At its peak, bottled water sales went up to $179.4 million.
An Ecological Nightmare
Bottled water remained popular for a while, until the global green movement. Most dropped non-recyclable plastics for being unfeasible, unsafe, and toxic for the environment. In 2018, the National Environment Agency (NEA) deemed only 4% of consumer plastics fit for recycling.
Unregulated Water Standards
If this wasn’t enough, a World Wildlife Fund International study came to light in 2001. The report discovered a gross lack of standards regulating the bottled water industry. In Singapore, there are over 200 WHO parameters for acceptable drinking water. In comparison, there are only 30 Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) regulations for bottled water.
Toxic Chemical Leaching
The final wave to seal off bottled water came with evidence of toxicity. Plastic bottles (even BPA-free ones) can leach chemicals into water. Companies use BPA-free plastic these days, but other harmful chemicals are still present. These leach into water too, when exposed to heat or left to sit for long periods of time.
That left us with one option..
5. Filtered Water As An Alternative To Plastic Bottles
Now that bottled water wasn’t quite cutting it, we started turning to filtered water. Despite all the authorities’ efforts, we were still unwilling to use pure tap water.
We are truly a kiasu bunch.
What is Filtered Water?
Filtered water is water that has passed through a water filter. This is usually installed right before the drinking water outlet source. The proximity of the filter ensures the freshest, cleanest possible water at the tap. Most filters work by trapping and clearing contaminants with different filter media.
Filtration is very effective at clearing out contaminants from our drinking water.
In Singapore, most water filters can remove contaminants such as:
- Micro particles
- Pungent odours
- Unusual taste
Not all water filters are built the same. Before choosing one, you should consider the following:
The exact substances you want to add or remove from your drinking water
Clean water is a primary need, but it is easy to get sidetracked. There are plenty of bells and whistles available in the filter market today. There exist add-ons such as alkaline water or hydro-ions. Though not scientifically proven, Singaporeans have paid thousands of dollars for these features.
Global reputation of the brand
Most water filter brands sold today are not certified by reputable bodies. (E.g.: National Sanitation Foundation or American National Standards Institute). Clean water is a global issue. You don’t want a filter that only works in one or two countries, something is definitely wrong there. What you are looking for are the top and trusted filter suppliers globally.
Maintenance and repair costs associated with the water filter
There are ‘hidden costs’ of water filters. Don’t only pay attention to the upfront cost. This is not enough. You will use a filter for several years so you should know how much they cost to run too.
Despite these pitfalls, water filters in Singapore are still well worth your money. It is more important to remove unwanted substances, impurities and microbes in water. The highest filter grade – Hyper filtration with Reverse Osmosis (RO) costs more. Is it worth it? I’d say yes, because it guarantees cleanliness to the exact same level as if it were fresh out of the PUB filters.
There’s no reason for you not to use filtration systems to treat Singapore tap water. It’s only a matter of choosing the right water filter and brand.
5 Facts And Conclusion About Filtered Water In Singapore
- Singapore is lauded for its advanced tap water treatment technologies. Our water even exceeds WHO guidelines
- The testing of our drinking water is Extensive!
- But there remain alarming water problems that not all Singaporeans cannot ignore
- Bottled water was a solution for a while, but we’ve all grown smart about its demerits
- Today, many Singaporean consumers have chosen water filters over bottled water.
Filtered water gives families here peace of mind. It provides easy access to drinkable water anytime, anywhere.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Filtered Water In Singapore
Tap water in Singapore doesn’t require filtration, as it is moderately soft and generally safe to drink.
No. Boiled water isn’t purified, and even after boiling, some contaminants remain. Dirt, heavy metals, and chlorine still stay in the water. Only filtering the water can remove these substances and offer safe, convenient, and great-tasting water.
Yes. Most bottled water still undergoes a filtration process that removes chlorine and other chemicals that can affect the water’s taste, look, and smell.
The majority of Singaporean families vote, ‘Yes’. Compared with tap water, filtered water tastes fresher and cleaner. Singapore tap water is chlorinated, which is not to everyone’s liking. Filtration however, can remove the chlorine and other substances to achieve a crisp and fresh taste.