I was thoroughly impressed by the NEWater Visitor Centre when we dropped by one hazy Saturday morning. Do make an online appointment if you wish to visit – we forgot, but they very kindly accommodated us when we arrived as they opened at 9am. They were expecting a larger group, but they were late, and the NEWater tour (free!) starts very promptly, so they started the entire tour with just our family! *grateful*
Even as a normal tour (they conduct special tours for preschool groups), it was extremely child-friendly. The initial space we entered was clearly set up to educate children. We experienced going on a River Expedition down the Singapore River in a raft that actually rocks from side to side.
Our whole family really enjoyed the Water Heroes game show – amazing set-up! We wanted to play it again and again to outdo one another.
I particularly enjoyed the information section – it was designed so well, and so much thought and effort had been put into presenting important points in an engaging as well as visually arresting way.
Our knowledgeable and patient guide, who was obviously very passionate about his work, talked us through so much detail. Look at this amazing state of the art museum-quality depiction of how sewage in Singapore is collected and treated!
Next, it was time to enter into the NEWater factory proper. At its entrance was a fascinating floor set up of water sprays with a fancy light display. It wasn’t functioning the day we visited, but the girls had fun peering at the water nonetheless.
As our guide explained the Singapore’s water history, the pride we feel at every national day, wells up again (pun intended). For us, water isn’t just water. It’s a matter of national survival. I just felt so proud and humbled by the fact that we have attained self-sufficiency in water, and that NEWater is our third national tap.
Personally, I didn’t need much convincing about the potable nature of our tap water, and the purity of NEWater. For the record, there is no NEWater mixed into our tap water. NEWater is currently being supplied for industrial and commercial non-potable use in manufacturing process, air-con cooling, process cooling, boilers etc, which still require high-purity water.
Having lived in cities where treated and recycled water is put through the taps time and again, I am not squeamish about drinking NEWater, and wouldn’t fuss if it were added to our domestic water supply. Pure water is pure water from a chemical analysis angle, really. Broken down by photo-spectrometers and the like, they are indistinguishable.
My kids and I drink water straight from the tap at times, although we do keep boiled water. The only impurities from tap water arise from pipe sediments, and even those are usually fine, just extra mineral content? Haha.
The next stage of the tour was interesting, as visitors were asked to imagine themselves as a water molecule, going through the various stages of filtration and purification. Lots of science and chemical engineering involved here (microfiltration membranes! reverse osmosis! stages upon stages!), but we tried to grasp as much as we could. The adults, that is. The kids just ran helter-skelter around.
One of the last stages is Ultraviolet light treatment. A short but sharp blast of ultraviolet light kills whatever remaining miniscule invisible nasties that dare to exist after the other rounds of filtration.
The walkway through the factory was done up so nicely that some overseas visitors ask if this was but a showroom or ‘model’. Our guide laughed – this is the one and only NEWater factory, no money to build a mere model for visitors.
Mind-stretching quotes about the importance of water.
There was one particularly useful analogy from our guide that I now only vaguely recall, so pardon any errors. He said that if we imagined a 0.2 micron impurity speck as a basketball, the various stages progressively filter out tinier particles such that only a ping-pong ball can get through at the end. If you’re interested in the technical terms you can read about it here and here.
The kids had such a great time, that they happily posed with Water Wally at the end. We are fans of the book by Linn Shekinah, which is available at the National Library and a great read to accompany such a visit.
We walked through the basement where we saw this “common standpipe” – a part of our history too.
As the tour ended, our guide kindly gave the girls two goody bags which are usually prepared for larger school groups.
The girls were thrilled, and loved the lanyards as well as a cute shower cap that’s not pictured below – a great reminder to take shorter showers!
If you’re looking for a non-crowded place to visit this school holidays, I strongly recommend this! So comfortable and educational.
Do book ahead online or via telephone at 65467874.
Visitor Centre Opening hours
9am to 5:30pm ( From Tuesdays to Sundays, including public holidays)
Approximately an hour
Koh Sek Lim Road
Nearest MRT Stations : Tanah Merah (Exit B)
Bus Services available : 12, 24, 31 & 38 [be prepared for a very long walk in]