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A consortium made up of local water treatment specialist Hyflux and Ondeo of France has been awarded the contract to build Singapore's first desalination plant, the government said Sunday.
The plant, which is expected to start operations by the second-half of 2005, will provide the resource-scarce island with another alternative source to meet its water needs, according to the Public Utilities Board (PUB).
"With advancements in desalination technologies and improvement in energy efficiency, desalinated water has now become another viable source of water supply for Singapore," PUB chairman Tan Gee Paw said.
The plant is capable of supplying 136,000 cubic metres (4.76 million cubic feet) of water daily, the PUB said but it gave no details on the cost of building the plant or the value of the contract awarded.
Each cubic metre of desalinated water is expected to cost about 78 Singapore cents (45 US cents), according to the winning consortium in its bid for the project.
The construction of a desalination plant is part of the city-state's plan to reduce its water dependence on neighbouring country Malaysia, which supplies half of Singapore's daily water needs.
Singapore recently began recycling waste water on a limited scale to cut its dependence on Malaysian imports, and has said it will be in a position to let one of the two countries' water agreements lapse in 2011. The second agreement expires in 2061.
Singapore is locked in a dispute with Malaysia on the price it pays for buying water from the latter.
Malaysia is seeking a price increase. It now sells raw water to Singapore at three Malaysian sen (less than one cent) per 1,000 gallons (4,550 litres).
The water issue has been a key irritant in relations since Singapore was kicked out of the Malaysian Federation and became a separate state in 1965.