Haze doesn’t change safety of Singapore’s water: Vivian Balakrishnan

Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan helps a public waste disposal worker put on an N95 mask correctly, to ensure he is taking adequate precautions should the haze worsen. (Yahoo! photo)

Haze has had "absolutely no impact" on the quality of water for public consumption, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan.
Speaking on Wednesday morning at the sidelines of a visit to Chestnut Waterworks, a processing plant that controls one-third of the nation's water supply, Balakrishnan said the system of filtration and water purification for Singapore's tap water has built-in redundancies, and that the water flowing through the country's taps is as clean as it was pre-haze season.
"PUB has been monitoring water quality quite obsessively over the past couple of weeks and the first point to note is that there has been absolutely no impact on the quality of our water, both in terms of the raw water and the treated water we are putting out to the public," he said.

"As far as for water supply, as far as PUB is concerned, there is no such thing as a 'stop-work' order," he added. "Whatever happens, your water is going to continue to flow from your tap, the water is going to be good and safe to drink."
With regard to housing services such as cleaning and public waste removal, Balakrishnan said he will require workers involved to exercise precautions, for instance the use of masks, beyond a 24-hour PSI of 200. Apart from the index crossing the "hazardous" point, however, he said business would be as usual.
'We are dealing with two crises simultaneously'
In light of the worsening dengue epidemic across various parts of the country, and with a third death resulting from the tropical disease this month, the minister said also that Singapore remains in "the danger period" for dengue fever.
"It illustrates that we are really having to deal with two crises simultaneously," he said in comments on the passing of an 86-year-old Chinese man on Tuesday afternoon, who was warded in Khoo Teck Puat Hospital for fever since Saturday.
"The fact that we still have 800 cases a week, it's still a source of concern and that's why our dengue inspectors cannot take a respite," he added, appealing to members of the public to open their doors and be cooperative to dengue inspectors who have been making their rounds in hotspot residential areas where dengue outbreaks have been identified.
Returning to the topic of haze, Vivian said Singapore has been "very lucky" to escape it in the past few days, because of favourable winds that have allowed us to lie "just at the edge of the haze", based on satellite images taken on Tuesday.
"Our latest meteorology assessment is the haze in the region is likely to persist for quite some time more, and as long as it persists, Singapore remains at risk because once you get even a slight shift in wind direction, the haze will be back, and what you read about happening in Malaysia could very easily be us, and could easily be us in the days and weeks to come if the winds change," he said.
Asked about the impending re-opening of schools for the coming term, due to start next week, Vivian said his ministry will continue to monitor the situation carefully, and coordinate closely with the Ministry of Education, which will likely have an update for parents toward the end of this week.
"The key point that I need the nation to know is that we are in a dynamic, changing situation and we need to be flexible, we need to be prepared," he said.

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