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How will you be affected by the water price hike

With the recent announcement of the 30% increase in water prices during this year’s budget, there was a flurry of activity on various platforms to make sense of what this means for us as common folks. Here at Renonation, we’re putting our two cents worth.

Source: Pixabay

To fully understand what the 30% increase in water prices really mean for us, there is a need to understand your water bill. There are four components in your water bill.

The four components in your water bill
Water Tariff This covers the costs incurred during the water production process, such as the treatment of raw water and the collection of rain water. This is charged based on the cost of water used.
Water Conservation Tax (WCT) The WCT is a 30% charge on the amount of water used, intended to drive home the message that water is scarce. For instance, if your water tariff is $4.50, your WCT is $1.35.
Waterborne Fee (WBF) The WBF is meant to offset the cost of treating used water e.g. purification of used water into NEWater. The WBF is charged based on how much water is used. Current charge is $0.28 per cubic metre.
Sanitary Appliance Fee (SAF) Like WBF, the SAF is used to offset the cost of treating used water. However, the SAF is a fixed amount, based on the number of sanitary appliances you have at home. Currently, the price is $2.80 per sanitary appliance.

What 30% really means for us

Water prices are set to increase in two steps, one in July 2017 and another in July 2018.

In July 2017, the WBF and SAF, fees to offset the cost of treating used water will be combined into WBF, which means you will only be charged based on how much water is used. Thereafter the WBF will increase to $0.78 per cubic metre. By July 2018, the WBF will increase to $0.92 per cubic metre.

The WCT will also see an increase from 30% of your water tariff to 35% in July 2017 and 50% in July 2018.

Your Water Tariff will increase from $1.17 per cubic metre to $1.19 per cubic metre in July 2017. By July 2018, that will increase to $1.21 per cubic metre.

Here’s a table to better illustrate the cost changes:

Prices based on 0-40 cubic metre of water used.* CURRENT JULY 2017 JULY 2018
Water Tariff $1.17 per cubic metre $1.19 per cubic metre $1.21 per cubic metre
Water Conservation Tax (WCT) 30% of water tariff 35% of water tariff 50% of water tariff
Waterborne Fee (WBF) $0.28 per cubic metre $0.78 per cubic metre $0.92 per cubic metre
Sanitary Appliance Fee (SAF) $2.80 per sanitary appliance NIL NIL

*Do note that the prices stated in the table are based on 0-40 cubic metre of water used. If your household uses more than 40 cubic metre of water per month, charges are higher.

The 30% increase therefore means the median of the total increases across the different components.

But what does this mean for us? Here’s a look in monetary terms:

If your current water usage is 40 cubic metres of water, which is on the higher end scale of the national average of water usage, your current monthly bill will be $46.8 (water tariff) + $14.04 (WCT) + $11.20 (WBF) and $5.60 (SAF, assuming you have two sanitary fittings), a total cost of $77.64.

With the revised fees by July 2018, assuming you still use 40 cubic metres of water a month, your fees will increase to $48.40 (water tariff) + $24.20 (WCT) + $36.80 (WBF), a total cost of $109.40. That is a 40 percent increase of $31.76.

According to government statistics, our average consumption of water per day per person is just 151 litres, translating to 0.151 cubic metres. For a month, that is an estimated 4.53 cubic metres in a one-person household. For a four-person household, that is 18.12 cubic metres.

Based on this, you will be paying about $38.25 now. By July 2018, your water bills would increase to $49.47, a 30-percent increase of $11.20 per month. While that is not a colossal amount, it is still a minor dent in your household expenses in the long run.

All prices are before GST.

But you save? Till 2018, that is.

For those who’re looking to the increase in U-Save rebates to offset the water price hikes, we’ve done the simple math for you. For the uninitiated, U-Save rebates are given to HDB households to offset utilities costs, and the amount is dependent on HDB flat type.

U-Save Rebates (given out four times) Current (per year) Revised (per year) Average rebates per month
1- and 2-room flats $260 $380 $31.60
3-room $240 $340 $28.30
4-room $220 $300 $25
5-room $200 $260 $22
Executive/Multi Gen $180 $220 $18

Looking at the average rebates you get per month, it would seem the U-Save rebates would help to offset a big part of the increases, till 2018 at least as the current amount is based on what was announced for FY2017.

How much water are we using?

Source: Pixabay

In the long run, it’s probably a better idea to practice water-saving measures rather than relying on rebates. Besides, it’s not only for your pocket, it’s also for the general good when you employ water-saving practices.

Here’s a percentage breakdown of your water usage, based on 2016 statistics by The Straits Times.

Showering (29%)
Kitchen (22%)
Laundry (19%)
Flushing (16%)
Basin (10%)
Others (4%)


From the stats, showering takes up the highest percentage in our total water usage. Seeing as the average water consumption per person per day is 151 litres, a shower uses just over 40 litres. That’s about twenty-six 1.5-litre coke bottles!

If that sounds like a lot to you, it probably is. For male readers who’ve been based overseas in the army, you might have experienced a bag and pulley shower system that would have resulted in less than 10 litres of water used per shower. Here’s an instance of how the system looks like:

Source: Permaculture

While we’re not suggesting you go build your own bag and pulley shower system, it would seem 40 litres per day just for showering alone seems to be a tad excessive when you can get clean with just 10. Perhaps it’s time we reevaluate how much water we’re actually using.

Look out for Part 2 of our article, where we list down water-saving devices that you can invest in your home to help reduce your water consumption.

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