Ways to save water (and money)

It may be the wet, rainy season again, but when it comes to saving water, we should not let our guard down. In fact, this year observed record high temperatures, and this is likely to continue or even worsen in years to come.

While we have been successful in overcoming our need for potable water, we must still prevent the wastage of our water supply. We must never take for granted that we will always have ready access to clean water. Even countries that are generally water self—sufficient like USA, UK, Brazil and Taiwan have had to practise water rationing.

The things you can do are simple and easy to adopt and, remember, it helps you to save on your water bill:

Install a thimble on your taps

Thimbles help to save water from a running tap by reducing the amount of water that is being dispensed. Contact PUB at 1800-2846600 for an appointment to fit the thimbles for you free of charge, or request a free water saving kit through PUB’s webpage http://www.pub.gov.sg/quizsurvey/ Pages/RequestforWater SavingKit.aspx to install it yourself.

Buy water-efficient appliances

The Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme is a scheme that grades eligible products based on how good they are at making every drop count. Products that are mandatorily labelled under this scheme include washing machines, taps, mixers, dual-flush low capacity flushing cisterns, urinal flush valves, waterless urinals. Showerheads may be graded under this scheme, but it is not compulsory. The grades are reflected with ticks. The more ticks the product has, the more water wastage it prevents. Three ticks indicate the best performance, while zero is the least water-efficient.

Teach your domestic helper to conserve water

Remember your domestic helper comes from a different society. So familiarise her with the usage of appliances and how she can help save water. For example, show her how to use recycled water after washing clothes to flush the toilet closets. Or, when washing utensils don’t turn the tap at the maximum, or unnecessarily leave the tap water running.

Water leakage in public areas

Very often, we take good care of our own homes, but public property is “none of my business”. That is the wrong attitude. Public water leakage leads to a significant amount of water wastage, especially if it goes unnoticed for days, and this water wastage contributes to our water shortage woes.

If you notice water leakage within public areas of your housing estate, do report it to the Town Council. Water leakages and malfunctioning taps in buildings should be reported to the management or simply reported at the service desk. For water leakage in public areas, call the PUB 24-hour helpline 1800-2846600.

Creative ways to save water:

1. Put a brick or filled water bottle in your toilet cistern to prevent over-flushing.

2. Before getting into the shower, play a song on your phone and challenge yourself to turn off the shower before the song ends. The aim is to cut your time spent under the shower. But, don’t cheat with exceptionally long tunes!

3. Detect water leakage from your cistern by putting food colouring in it. Then fix the leakage to avoid long-term wastage.

4. When waiting for the shower water to warm up, collect the cold water that precedes the warm water in the bucket. lt’s clean water with valuable use!

– This article first appeared in a lifestyle magazine

Free fitness programme for all residents

This article was published for the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC in May 2015.

BitPAL, a free 12-week fitness programme is now available for all elderly residents living in Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

Trainers will be on hand to guide residents to use the newly installed exercise equipment at various fitness stations set up throughout the GRC. The Bishan—Toa Payoh Town Council is in fact building 72 new stations. Altogether there will be 120 stations – each of which will be within 10 – minute walking distance from each block of HDB flats.

BitPAL (Bishan-Toa Payoh Active Living Programme) was launched by the Minister for Defence Dr Ng Eng Hen, who is also an MP for Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC, on 22 March 2015. Present were also other fellow GRC MPs, Senior Minister of State (Finance & Transport), Mrs Josephine Teo, Mr Wong Kan Seng, Mr Zainudin Nordin and Mr Hri Kumar Nair, who is also chairman of the Town Council.

Dr Ng Eng Hen pointed out that the project is funded by the town council and a government grant. He said: “This is good use of public funds to improve the lives of residents and the value of their properties. ”

He said, with the very good facilities that have been built in and around the GRC over the years, these would eventually raise the prices of the properties.

The BitPAL project was specially thought out by the MPs to help the residents lead a healthier and happier life. The exercises are aimed at building the strength, stamina, flexibility and balance of the participants.

The project is a joint collaboration between the Town Council and the People’s Association, which will get volunteers to be coached as trainers for the elderly so as to get as many residents as possible to sign up.

BitPAL is tapping on the expertise of doctors from the Singapore General Hospital Department of Rehabilitation Medicine in drawing up the exercise programme and getting the appropriate equipment installed. Dr Ng Yee Sien, who is the head of the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, said the initial results from the pilot group who underwent the sessions showed they had benefited from the exercises.

The first group of some 40 residents underwent a pilot 8-week at Block 68, Lorong 5 Toa Payoh, and they found it enjoyable and beneficial to their health.

Residents who are interested in signing up for the exercises can go to the nearest PA community centre to inquire.

Electrifying even after close to 40 years on the job

Since an early age, Mr Chong Wong Kam has had a fascination with lights, and it is not surprising that after spending some 38 years as an electrician he is still very passionate about his job.

Fifty-eight year old Wong Kam is an electrician with the Bishan-Toa Payoh Town Council. He works with the town council since 2000 and he attends to all the electrical faults in public areas. This ranges from changing the light bulbs along corridors to attending to circuit breaker tripping at the void decks.

With his years of experience on thejob, Wong Kam smiled almost nonchalantly when he was asked if he faces any challenges in the course of his work day. “I think many residents may not understand that the electrical issues within their homes should be handled by them and not by the town council.

”Often I have to explain to them why the town council is unable to do the repair in their homes. But I will explain to them what are the likely causes of the electrical problem, and they have accepted this quite well.”

In fact, a few residents were so satisfied with his explanation that they even wrote to the Town Council to commend him for what he did.

To keep his job, Wong Kam, who is a certified electrician, has to undergo a refresher course every three years conducted by the Energy Market Authority. He is one of two electricians engaged by the Town Council to maintain the housing estates within the Bishan-Toa Payoh GRC.

He takes charge of the whole Toa Payoh, while his colleague oversees Bishan. There are days when he may get very busy and not on others. Often when there are funeral wakes at the void deck, the circuit breaker would be tripped because of an overload in consumption.

Wong Kam, who is married with two grown up children, takes pride from his vocation knowing that he and his wife (who works part-time) are able to give their children a good upbringing. His elder 26-year-old son is studying music in Boston, US, and his other 22-year-old son has just completed national service.

He has travelled to Toronto, Canada, en route to Boston twice in the past six years to visit his son, who is now studying for his master’s degree.  His other satisfaction is, of course, knowing that he is part of the town council team that keeps the GRC well-maintained.

– This article first appeared in a Town Council newsletter as part of a profiling feature