NEWater Singapore

One of Singapore’s four national “water taps” is to reclaim water from wastewater. After years of research, the Public Utilities Board (PUB), Singapore’s national water agency, started to supply high quality reclaimed water, referred to as NEWater. The majority of NEWater is supplied to industries for non-potable purposes. The rest is discharged into reservoirs for indirect potable use. Currently NEWater meets 30% of Singapore’s current water demand, and there are plans to increase this to 50% by 2060. At this moment there are four NEWater treatment plant in service (Bedok, Kranji, Ulu Pandan and Changi). NEWater is produced from treated sewage, termed “used water”, that is further purified in three different steps:

  1. Microfiltration (MF) is the first step in the NEWater production. The treated used water is passed through membranes to filter out and retained on the membrane surface suspended solids, colloidal particles, disease-causing bacteria, some viruses and protozoan cysts.
  2. The second stage of the NEWater production process is known as Reverse Osmosis (RO). In RO, a semi- permeable membrane is used. The semi-permeable membrane has very small pores which only allow very small molecules like water molecules to pass through. Consequently, undesirable contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, nitrate, chloride, sulphate, disinfection by-products, aromatic hydrocarbons, pesticides etc, cannot pass through the membrane.
  3. The third stage of the NEWater production process acts as a further safety back-up to the RO. In this stage, ultraviolet or UV disinfection is used to ensure that all organisms are inactivated and the purity of the product water guaranteed (PUB).

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(Reverse osmosis membranes)

Tiger Barb

The Tiger Barb is a beautiful fish that is found in clear or turbid shallow waters of moderately flowing streams. They live in Indonesia and Borneo and their average lifespan is about 6 years. It has four very distinctive black stripes, which resembles the pattern of a tiger. These fish are very active and playful, which makes them fun to watch. They are also fairly hardy and easy to keep provided that frequent water changes regularly occur. The species does need company, and will do best with 6 or more in a group. Having schools of 20+ will make these Tiger Barbs look even more spectacular! DO NOT house these fish with long-finned or slow-moving fish as Tiger Barbs are well known fin-nippers! Gouramis and Anglefish should not be housed together with Tiger Barbs. When Tiger Barbs are kept in larger groups they tend to be less aggressive as they are more busy chasing each other. I personally like to house Tiger Barbs with other fish of Sumatran biotope, such as Bala Shark and Clown Loach.

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Roti Island Snake-necked Turtle

The roti island snake-necked turtle is an oddly shaped freshwater turtle found only on the Indonesian island of Rote. The neck is nearly as long as the carapace of the turtle and is extremely mobile. In the wild it only exists in small isolated pockets in the central highlands of Rote Island. The species is an island endemic and is very susceptible to human interference. The exotic pet trade has decimated this species in the wild as it is one of the most desired turtle in the international pet trade.


Giant Pangasius

The Giant Pangasius, or Paroon Shark, is a huge fish inhabiting the Mekong River Basin in South East Asia. It can reach an incredible length of 3 metres! It is not a shark, but rather a species of whisker-less catfish. It is a migratory fish and lays its eggs just before the monsoon season. It has a perfectly streamlined body with an elegant dorsal fin. The natural population has declined drastically over the last couple of decades as a result of overfishing. This has made the remaining Giant Pangasius populations severely fragmented and critically endangered.

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Blood Parrot

The blood parrot is an interesting fish with a round balloon-shaped body and a small mouth. Since it’s a hybrid developed by humans it does not occur in the wild. They come in many colours, but the most striking ones are those with yellow or red colour. The blood parrot is very popular aquarium fish. It is a hardy fish and is therefore easy for the beginner  They are, however, messy eaters and will only consume part of the food that is given. A powerful filter and good cleaning of the substrate is necessary when keeping these fish. Originating from cichlid parents, one would expect these fish to be aggressive. However, this is far from the case and these fish can easily be housed with similar sized fish such as Angelfish, Corydoras, Silver Dollars and many catfish species.They are called parrotfish because their nose looks like the beak of a parrot 🙂


Wels Catfish

The Wels catfish, Silurus glanis, is one of the largest fresh water fish in the world. Accurate measurements over the last couple of decades have shown several specimens of over two metres in length, the longest and heaviest being 2.78m (144kg). It’s a not the most attractive fish you will ever see as it has a long snake-like body, with slimy skin and a huge mouth. Using its long barbels, it tracks its prey by hearing and smelling. The eyesight of a Wels catfish is fairly poor, but it enjoys a tapetum lucidum which gives it reasonable vision at night. They eat insects, crustaceans and other fish. The larger ones go after small mammals and aquatic birds. It is rarely kept in the aquarium due to its sheer size.

This giant fish has been introduced in several European rivers, including the Seine and Po rivers in France and Italy respectively. In some areas, they are known to lunge out of the water to grab pigeons on land. Check youtube for video’s on this! Also the 6th season “cities” of the BBC’s Planet Earth II series spends time covering this phenomena.


Photo from the Watershed Council Petoskey

Colloquium Master Thesis

On Thursday the 16th of February 2017, I held my colloquium at Wageningen University of my master thesis covering the sanitation issue in Ciwalengke, Majalaya, Indonesia.

This master thesis research examined the important issues that play a role for successful implementation of domestic sanitation treatment facilities and the potential for nutrient harvesting in Ciwalengke. Based on field observation, water sample analysis, questionnaires and interviews a new sanitation design was proposed specifically for the case of Ciwalengke. It incorporated both a technical and institutional design. The technical design concluded that storage of urine and the treatment of the remaining wastewater through septic tanks were the most feasible technologies. The institutional design concluded that a solid platform would be necessary that incorporates community involvement in the maintenance and operation of the sanitation system. Governmental guidance coupled with a financial structure should be in place to facilitate this process.

It was great to see many students of my year and others attending this 🙂 Thank you all for coming!


IPAL Bojongsoang, Bandung

In October 2016 I was invited to visit the only centralised domestic wastewater treatment plant in Bandung located in Bojongsoang. It was a very interesting day where I saw the many processes that take place within such a treatment plant. In this case, a series of stabilisation ponds were used to treat the incoming wastewater. Check out my short documentary of the processes below! 

Indonesia Ornamental Fish Show 2016

On the 17th of December 2016 I travelled together with one of Indonesia’s best fish breeders, Pak Mulyadi, to the Indonesian Convention Exhibition (ICE) in South Tangerang, to attend the Indonesia’s 1st Ornamental Fish and Aquatic Plant Show. I had no idea what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of everyone I met there. The aquascaping competition was the biggest I have ever seen. The exhibition was divided is several themes: Betta, Killifish, Goldfish, Guppy, Arowana and Lohan. My personal highlight were the amazing award-winning Lohan’s on display and the 1 meter+ Jumbo Koi!

Indonesia has huge potential to become a market leader in the aquarium business since many aquarium fish species originate from Indonesia. Other non-native species are also harvested in Indonesia, particularly in and around Bogor. However, most of the money is made in Singapore due the lack of sufficient infrastructure in Indonesia. Singapore buys fish cheaply from Indonesia and sells it on to other countries overseas. Changi Airport and the Port of Singapore are far more effective in handling the demand than the overcrowded airport of Soekarno-Hatta or the flood-prone port of Tanjung Priok in Jakarta.

Despite this, the BRINusatic Ornamental Fish Show 2016 was a step in the right direction to commercialise the aquarium business in Indonesia. It united several fish-clubs into one joint show to make it appeal to a wider public. People from Ministry of Fisheries explained to me that this was the very reason why this show was held. I hope it will be held again soon!



WaterLink Leeuwarden

On the 26th of January 2017 I travelled up north to Leeuwarden for the 5th addition of the annual WaterLink event organised by Water Alliance. Water Alliance is a unique partnership of public and private companies, government agencies and knowledge institutes involved in water technology in the Netherlands. It brings together a unique and complete chain of innovation for water technology, from first idea to potential commercial success: from knowledge to business.

This year 16 different countries attended the event, the most number of international guests so far. Swimmer and three time Olympic gold medalist, Pieter van den Hoogenband gave a speech on his approach to becoming the best. This was followed by eight different parallel sessions covering various domains of water technology. I chose to attend “recourse recovery from wastewater” which was very interesting. The potential for recovering phosphorus and cellulose from wastewater were mostly discussed in an interactive session. After this there were plenty of opportunities for networking under the enjoyment of a tasteful dinner 🙂