NEWater Visitor Centre
The newly upgraded NEWater Visitor Centre allow visitors be immersed in a world of water and especially NEWater. The virtual guide "Wave" will direct visitor each step of the way through the NEWater Visitor Centre. There are also multimedia presentations and hands-on interactive games.
We were given a short tour inside the gallery and we were taught, in detail, about the various processes the water goes through before it is bottled for us to drink. Needless to say, I was very surprised about the advanced technology and I then realised that NEWater is actually clean and safe for us to drink.
After the visit, I actually felt proud that Singapore managed to come up with such a beautiful and advanced piece of technology to counter our water shortage problem. I strongly recommend every Singaporean to visit this place at least once, especially those who have misconceptions about NEWater.
Amazingly, when NEWater was first discovered, I was still in Primary school. I still remember how everyone used to call it "shit water". Call us children petty, but I was pretty sure that the water tasted slightly different because of the treatment.
Although I didn't see much value in NEWater then, the visit to the NEWater visitor centre then opened my eyes to a world of information that I didn't know then. Who knew that water would be so important to our nation? For a country that depends heavily on imported water to survive - and mind you, water is a basic need - if anything were to happen to the water supply, we would be left stranded.
Keeping this memory in mind, my recent visit to the NEWater Visitor centre at the Marina Barrage made me all proud again of Singapore. Who was the owner of the ingenious mind that thought of this brilliant idea, that even countries around the world are clamouring to know? The interactive and technologically-savy set up of the new visitor's centre makes it so much more interactive than the mundane but educational visit I had in the past. With photo-taking stations at regular intervals and colourful lights, it seems to me that it would definitely appeal to the younger generation. If even I'm attracted to the bright lights and technologically-savy set up, why wouldn't they?
Yes, I did make fun of how the taste of NEWater was due to the remnants of urine that can't be filtered. I was young then, and didn't know any better. Years later, I came to the realisation that such innovation has futher established Singapore, the tiny red dot, on the map of the world. These process of purification is one well thought-of scientific technology that could very well prolong Singapore's survival.
I had always known that NEWater was a product of Singapore in an effort to reduce our reliance on Malaysia for our water supply. But I never knew about all the different types of technologies that went into the production of this bottle of water. After walking through all the different stages and understand ing more about the history of NEWater which was very throughly explained in the Visitor Centre, I have developed a newfound respect for NEWater.
Yes, it doesn't taste that nice. But yet, it's pretty amazing how Singapore is slowly but surely increasing its production of NEWater and finding alternatives to Malaysia as to our water supply. Perhaps we do not know of how critical or important NEWater is: it currently controls 30% of our current needs and by 2060, it will nearly double to 55%. Talk about importance.
Nevertheless, no matter how much emphasis goes into packaging NEWater as a purified source of drinkable water, as a kid I could never believe that all those huge contraptions were capable of transforming filth into something safe to drink. As a matter of fact, I'm still not fond of NEWater today for the same reason. Perhaps it's more of a psychological barrier - the knowledge that every mouthful of NEWater could contain what used to be someone's pee - that no amount of information or education can breach.
And I didn't look forward to it.
For one, they gave such lousy goodie bags. All we got was a water bottle. Have you seen Science Center's goodie bag?
But moving on,
I think its revolutionary that we are able to convert undrinkable water into safe, consumable water. And I am extremely proud that our country has came up with a way to do it so efficiently that we won the grudging respect of our neighboring countries, and that we could finally decrease our water purchase from Malaysia.
But for a kid, all that did not occur me.
The only thing I saw in this place were a lot of big, menacing machines and big pipes and a big reservoir at some point. And also a very cute mascot but that's about it.
I remember nothing of what was said in the tour but safe to say, it's an environmentalist's classroom, not ours, and there really isn't much to enjoy.
I won't come back to relive my excursion days.
However, it could be a boring place for those who have no interest in such matters at all.
As for me, I love to look around and explore so it was a fun-filled experience for me( especially when I got the free Newater bottle) It is a good idea that the Singapore government recycled our daily water through chemical filtration to produce Newater, especially since the supply we get from Malaysia may run out one day.
I remembered that I went down for some sharing session and then one of the highlights was actually the visit around the centre itself. The centre presented the facts of the filtration in a simple to understand manner, yet at the same time, in a manner that was able to engage and capture the visitors. The presentation was straight forward and many aids were used to show the various stages. This made it such that even if kids that were very young, they would still be able to understand what was going on.
At one of the stops, I remembered walking passed a string curtain. And it was only as we passed through, the guide shared that the strings actually resembled part of the filtration system and we would like the water particles that get clean off by the filtration.
However, such visit had no repeat-visit value. But I would recommend that everyone at least visit it once, so as to understand how Singapore is becoming self-reliant.
However, I had no interest in what the water once held, but ho they clean it. I remember going home to try out the process myself. I collected some dishwater, got a piece of paper and covered it over the small bucket of dishwater and then shaking it vigorously. Sadly, I did not collect any water, it was all over the floor and my clothes were all wet.
The NEWater Visitor Centre, now from a much more mature perspective, is indeed a valuable spot for disseminating information on how the water is manufactured and how safe it is for consumption. It merits a visit for the chance to see the process in action, the learning through electronic and paper medium, and the wonderful environment around it.
I was there on a weekday afternoon. When my friend and I arrived, we were surprised that it's not a free-to-roam venue. We had to wait around for other visitors to form a group big enough to go on a guided tour through the facilities. There were ample seats and the lobby of the visitor centre was filled with photos and information about Newater, so we occupied ourselves in the quietness of the place while waiting for more fellow visitors.
About 20min later, the tour began. The group consist of various tourists and a huge class of school children from China. It seems like we are the only locals there. The tour itself was detailed and informative with video presentations and static displays. Facing a group mainly made up of school children, the guide managed to put the convoluted process of water filtering in a way that was simple and understandable to kids.
Towards the end of the tour, we came across a series of floor-ceiling styrofoam pillars meant to convey yet another filtering mechanism, except in this display, we ourselves are the water being filtered. That was fun, and I wondered if we could not have gone through the whole tour this way, as water going through the various machines.
After the tour, we followed a walkway towards the exit. The walkway was filled with yet more Newater propoganda so we took our time browsing through them, dreading the moment we have to step out into the hot afternoon sun again.
All in all, it was a good and informative visit, and no, the place didn't smell like shit at all. Even so, I wouldn't recommend a second trip. Why would I wanna come back and go through the exact same tour again?