30% increase in Singapore water rates

Last night, I was sitting at Perth airport, waiting for the flight to Singapore. A young man, who has been away for about 30 years, asked if I was a Singaporean. I replied “Sure, Yes”, and of course, I asked him “Why”.

He asked me if I kept track of news in Singapore, and if knew Singapore has announced a 30% increase in water rates. I didn’t believe him, but later, I sat down to read the E-News on my wonderful Blackberry. Wah, I was shocked to read countless comments on a 30% water rate increase.

My first thought was “what business in the world can increase its price by 30%? Water? Cannot be. Water is Life. Water is not alcohol and not cigarettes.  It is not sugar. How can a household paying $50 a month now pays $15 more?

What has gone wrong in Singapore? We already have GST which is pro-rated to consumption. This controls consumption.  

This 30% issue is a current issue. It affects every household and business. I hope we can send a message to the government and the PUB, through our many grassroots members, that this is a serious matter. Feel free to offer your views and comments. Alternate suggestions also welcome.

No name calling plse, and keep this issue a non-political discussion.

Terence Seah

24 thoughts on “30% increase in Singapore water rates

  1. The price increase is indeed steep and hits retirees like me pretty hard. I’ve started thinking of how to minimise my water usage.
    I tend to think that people will abuse our limited supply when usage doesn’t hurt their pockets.
    I’ve seen cars still being cleaned with a water hose.
    I’ve also seen hobbyists draining their pond water into the drains.
    I’ve seen leaking taps not attended to.
    I’ve seen hawkers leaving the tap overflowing while busy with customers.
    The list goes on……
    The govt shd go after these people but I suppose it is hard and they have to introduce policies that is across the board.

    • I agree with you Joo Tian about people wasting water. The government should set a usage limit and impose a surcharge if the limit is exceeded. However, its easier to increase the price across the board.

  2. Good morning Terence
    30% is a very high percentage to increase at one go. To the many who are still working and having a good income, this may seem pittance. But to families who are supporting themselves from hand to mouth, it will a big burden to them. Some families survive for several days on $15. If there is a written petition for the government to reduce the increase, I am very ready to support it.
    On a side note – I usually save the water from washing my veggies and rice to water my plants and I save about 20 to 25 big pails of water every month. The water from rinsing my hand washed clothes (generally very clean as I am in the aircon office the whole day so the clothes are not soiled or greasy) to wash the corridor outside my flat with a final rinse of clean water from the tap.

  3. On the issue of water conservation, I looked up the statistics and was surprised to discover that the domestic consumption of water per capita has in fact been dropping from 2006 to 2014. There was a slight uptick in 2015 and I suppose the 2016 statistic is not yet available. So in fact Sigaporeans at home have already taken the message to heart and conserving water all these years. So if water consumption is rising it is due to the high population growth and industries and really not the “fault” of indigeneous Singaporeans.
    Whether it is fair to levy a 30% increase on the typical household despite their efforts to heed the message of conserving water is something for readers to judge.


  4. WHEN it comes to giving rebate, they classified it into house types and room types. A decreasing proportion of rebate from one room to 5 room and beyond.

    WHEN it comes to increasing the price of water, it is simply across the board, regardless of whether you are wasting water.

    If one stays in an exec flat and heeds the call to save water, he will be most unfairly hit, because he is paying the Government to subsidise the bum staying in a one room flat happily wasting water..


  5. Singaporean should be aware our daily life would be tougher since 11 Sept 2015 and now it’seems shocking news of water increments of 30% in this time of weak economic.

    It’s a very heavy burden to the people as we are not only paying additional 30% of the water plus the water borne fee and GST, will be even more, this will effects all business to increasing their prices, definitely effect in our daily life.

    • You are so right, Judy. The increase in water fees is across the board – i.e. households, factories, office buildings, etc. EVERY business that uses water will be affected and to be expected, us consumers will bear these businesses’ price increase by having food, goods and even services increase in price.

      It’s pointless to lobby against the increase. Any Singaporean who lives long enough in Singapore knows that whatever policies is announced, it is signed, sealed and stamped.

  6. hohohohooho hahahahha , good morning bro & sister ,

    here some joke ,when in JB few years ago ,jb water ration .& have to ask our cheng hu ( government ) to pump in more back to jb …we have plenty of water but not in JB .
    MANY TIMES , i ve seen hawkers ,kopi kedai water either leaking or not close it what a sin to waste & u try complain to them ..jb bo chap ya. yo yo PUB MEANS PAY UNTIL BANKURPT .PWD puroplersy want to dig ..MRT more road tax ..LTA long tion ah ..SBS spore blood sucker SGH SURE GONE HOS[ITAL ..AND MANY MORE YA …HAHAHHAHHA cheers buddies

  7. If the data points to a drop in water consumption per capital, then I would see that raising water rates is not a good reason to discourage increased usage.

    It puzzles me as to how we can suddenly raise water rates by 30%. If higher costs is the reason, then PUB should explain how this 30% is being computed. Such a high increase cannot make sense.

    If Singapore is going to build more desalination plants, underground reservoirs or sealing off more rivers, and we need the PUB needs the budget to build new resources, then I would think the situation is serious. Are we, as a nation, using more water in the next 5 to 10 years?

    The 30% increase is no small matter. It clearly indicates we need a good relook into what has gone off the plan.

    Terence Seah

  8. Hi Terence,
    Subsequent to your comment above I looked up the PUB website and it confirms the following statistic:-
    Singapore’s per capita domestic consumption has reduced from 165 litres per day in 2003 to 151 litres per day by 2015.
    However the same report adds that the target is to reduce it further to 147 litres by 2020 and 140 litres by 2030.
    So perhaps this gives a clue on why the hefty increase is being implemented. It could well be that someone is hell bent to achieve the KPIs set and the additional social and economic costs to family budgets have been deemed secondary to the overall scheme of things.


  9. Hi Arthur,

    TQ for the PUB water usage figures.

    I am particularly disturbed because water is used by everyone household and every business. It is an essential item in our lives.

    Taxes are imposed on petrol and cars. This controls the car population. Taxes are added to cigarettes to cut smoking and reduce health costs. Sugar tax can also be added to reduce sugar’s health related issues.

    The PUB needs to rethink. Increasing the cost of water by 30% to reduce per capita consumption is not the same as raising petrol costs, cogarette cost and alcohol costs.

    PUB must spend time and effort to look at reducing costs, and not raising rates to achieve the objective. This is wrong thinking. I am disappointed.

    Terence Seah

  10. Water is indeed a precious commodity and is to be treasured.
    But water can be plentiful. Three quarters of the Earth’s surface is covered by seawater.
    We can tap water from the ground as spring water. This was the main source when Singapore was not urbanized.
    Of course the easiest way to solve water problem is to increase the price. Are there no other ways.
    At one time Singapore used fossil oil for our main energy supply such as the power stations. Today it is replaced by Liquefied Natural Gas which can be purchased from any country, stored in billion-dollar tanks, and is carried in by super tankers eliminating the dependence on any country.
    There are ways and means to increase water supply to meet future demand:
    1) The increase of infrastructure such the building of more desalination plants
    2) The tapping of other water resources. One man who is familiar with Indonesia
    said there is plenty of fresh water in rivers in Sumatra.
    3) Closer to home each time there is a downpour of rain, millions of gallons of
    .water are carried by drains to the sea. Is there a way to collect this big volume
    of water that has gone to waste. For example, the flat surface of HDB rooftops
    can be reconstructed for such purpose.

    Robert Ong

  11. It is hard for me to accept the reasons why Singapore needs to increase water rates by 30%. The reasons as I follow from the papers are:

    1. Consumption has risened, and this needs to be controlled.
    2. We need to build more NewWater and desalination plants.
    3. Replacement and maintenance costs are expensive.

    Our government seems to be listening; but it seems they mati mati wants to go ahead to raise the price of water. Our leaders should do more listening, instead of brushing aside user’s concerns. I am particularly surprised to hear that raising prices is a way for people to feel the pinch of using that additional drop.

    The PUB should show statistics that the consumption has increased per capita, if indeed, consumption has increased over the years. Have households been using more water per head? Or industries or business been using more water?

    It is a mistake to say households will see a few dollars increase a month; and that this increase is affordable. It is equally shallow thinking to say that 3/4 of industries/business with see an increase of $25 per month.

    And how did we get to 30%

    Terence Seah

  12. The recent announcement of the hefty increase in water price is a big blow to all. The Government should not charge a higher fee on an already very costly but essential commodity. Reasons given may be valid but not justified.

    The Government is collecting huge amount of money via income tax, property tax, vehicle tax, alcohol and gambling taxes, foreign worker levies, stamp duty fees, ERP and GST. Not forgetting the millions in fines collected by our courts of law. The money from such various sources should be used to fund the production and distribution of much needed utilities – electricity, gas and water – for the population at large.

    If conserving water and curbing wastage is necessary, the Government should think of more and better ways to monitor all the users, particularly heavy users. Increasing the fee across the board is unfair and unjustified, as the wrong person will be punished.

    There should be more consideration in budgeting and balancing.

    A rise in water and electricity bill will certainly propel other products and services in a domino effect increase. As a result, a glass of Kopi O at the neighbourhood coffee shop will soon cost $1.30. Living in world-renowned high cost of living in Singapore, we would expect the Government to help lower costs and not the opposite.


  13. Govt has explained and justified the big increase in the price of water and I have taken the increase in my stride as I would rather we be water sufficient than water stressed. And to be water sufficient we have to invest in several expensive-to-operate Newater and desalination treatment plants.

    Moreover my monthly consumption of water is way below the national and neighbour averages, hence my water bill is quite small. Now I have to pay 30% more but this extra $ I can easily offset by not buying some ‘luxury’ items.

    Many countries are facing water shortages. I hope we in Sg will always have clean water when we turn on our tap.

  14. Hi Jasmine, we are not talking about you only, but every one in Singapore.
    And we are not talking just about water price increase. It is the far-reaching chain effect brought about by the increase. The price of everything else will go up. Personally, I am okay too, even if the price goes up by 100%. But that’s not the point. Think of others.

    You may buy the Govt’s “explanation and justification” but I do not. Many people do not. We should not make noise if taxes on luxury items like property, car and extravagant entertainment are increased.

    It is not just about price increase on an essential commodity. It is how the Govt balance and budget its revenue collected and spendings.


    • Hi Daniel,

      You and I do not always see eye to eye. I am generally pro-establishment, and respect law, no matter how wrong I think they may be. I travel extensively and I see how different countries vary from different angles. I respect the Singapore government because they have been elected by the citizens, people like you and I.

      I was with a friend a few days ago; and he told me that he sees the government is right with this 30% water rate increase. He sees that most household will see a few dollars increase in their monthly water bill; and that Singaporeans should not quibble over such a small increase. He feels that the government has a reason as it has to build expensive water catchment, treatment plants and desalination plants. He is well-to-do; and i felt he may have a point.

      I had been following up the articles on this topic and the explanations in the papers since the announcement and I am unimpressed.

      However, when our Deputy Prime Minister just spoke, I admit I accepted his reasoning. He took us slowly to explain why Singapore needs to increase its water sources, not just today but in the many years ahead. He explained that water technology is expensive. And that we need to prepare ourselves. This explanation was easy and I think that many Singaporeans would accept his reasoning. He makes a good minister.

      What I am pissed with is many MPs in Parliament tried to explain the need for this 30% increase. We need this increase so that our citizens feel the pinch of every drop used. A small rate increase won’t be felt. What kind of explanation is this? Rich people should come down to earth more frequently. This kind of thinking leads to price increases. Many living things on earth need water.

      But, when it comes to hard difficult facts, face it and explain. Help us to understand. Dont just push your point. We cannot always solve money matters with arrogance.

      I am still trying to come to terms with this rate increase. TQ Dy PM for the explanation and your down-to-earth effort.

      Terence Seah

  15. Today I was talking with a friend over a cup of coffee.
    He told me his son works with a US giant corporation and that
    recently it has scaled down its operation and moved partially to Indonesia.
    The reason was due to high operational costs in Singapore and the costs were not sustainable for the firm.
    The recent announcement of 30% increase in water price will further aggravate
    the business costs of foreign firms and the rise cannot be passed easily to the local consumers as their markets are in other countries.
    So the increase will cause a chain reaction across the business community.


  16. Hi DC
    My view is with regard to my own situation. I do not speak on others’ behalf. I also do not stray from the topic which is about the 30% increase in the price of water.

  17. The Government is pouring in millions or billions to build one airport terminal after another. These infrastructures serve mainly foreign visitors and privileged locals rich enough to fly often.

    Yet they have to squeeze every citizen, rich and poor, to build whatever facilities to provide an essential commodity, water; and in the process, trigger another round of inflation. The impact is particularly severe on the “sandwich” class who will pay more but get little or no support from the Govt.

    What joy does the average man get when the Govt tells him he has the best airport in the world while he struggles every day to make ends meet for himself and his family?


  18. Terence, I cannot agree with you on this statement.
    ” I am generally pro-establishment, and respect law, no matter how wrong I think they may be.”
    This has nothing to do with law. A matter of opinion from different perspectives. We may not be able to right a wrong but we certainly can voice our displeasure when nescessary.

    You are right in your opinion in this paragraph at the very beginning.
    ” My first thought was “what business in the world can increase its price by 30%? Water? Cannot be. Water is Life. Water is not alcohol and not cigarettes. It is not sugar. How can a household paying $50 a month now pays $15 more? ” Be firm.


  19. A VERY good speech. SAD thing that we need a Nominated MP to say it, after spending millions and millions in terms of salary and/or allowance to the entire lot in our Parliament.

    Skip the opening praises. They are necessary but irrelevant.
    Our concerns are highlighted starting at 6 mins.

    Copy and paste on to your browser address box and click :



  20. We have to think of direct and indirect increase It is not just a few $ to our bill Also consider those with big families
    Practically everything..our essential stuffs need water to produce

    We have yet to feel the real impact..maybe for singles…cost is insignificant but for families the total increase can bring a burden to them
    Moreover we are facing downturn now, with companies staying light and trim We may see more suffering silently…affecting children
    Do you know that there are children who are living on $2 allowance aday

    Hope the well off who see this as peanut will lend a hand to the needy or donate more…

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