Third World Centre for Water Management

Communications

Book Review: The Singapore Water Story: Sustainable Development in an Urban City-State

Cecilia Tortajada, Yugal Joshi and Asit K. Biswas, 2013, Routledge, London, 288 pages


By David Lloyd Owen

International Journal of Water Resources Development | May 2013

The development of Singapore-based water and sewage operations and technology companies has been driven by a policy of combining water self-sufficiency with nurturing a regional presence in the water sector. It also goes back to the appreciation that a comprehensive water, sewerage and sewage-treatment infrastructure is an essential element in what we now understand as a developed economy. While there have been 12 tariff increases since independence, there have been none since 2000; but a water conservation tax allows for some flexibility in overall tariff setting.

This book is of particular use as an extended case study about how to develop a comprehensive water management system in a developing economy and how doing so plays a central role in driving economic development. It provides interested parties with a detailed understanding of how policy developed and was implemented and how these processes interacted with economic, technological and demographic developments over nearly five decades. It has succeeded in doing this in an accessible manner, drawing together a broad variety of narratives into a single volume. It benefits greatly from access to politicians and officials spanning the city-state’s history.

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