The Doctor is in the house – Singapore Water Lecture

7 Jul 2011                          

It’s impossible to miss the fact that the highlight of the Singapore International Water Week is the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize. This year’s laureate, South African engineer Dr James L. Barnard, beat 71 other nominees from 29 countries to clinch the prestigious award with his invention of a sustainable method of treating used water.

The method, called Biological Nutrient Removal (BNR), uses naturally-occurring micro organisms to extract nitrogen and phosphorus from used water. This environmentally friendly method has delivered significant cost savings over traditional chemical-intensive methods. The treated water is then returned to rivers and lakes.

The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, which honours stellar contributions that help solve global water problems, is sponsored by state-linked research funding body, the Singapore Millennium Foundation

2011_archive_pic13Dr Barnard, who is recognised internationally as “the Father of Biological Nutrient Removal” gave a lecture introducing BNR to a full audience at the Suntec Singapore International Convention and Exhibition Centre.

A key point of his lecture is how urine, when left in the open, becomes sterile and odourless, and becomes a good fertiliser. Urine contains significant amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus, which are needed for strong plant growth.

“I’m thinking of golf courses that have housing around them. Why can’t we collect urine from the houses and use them on the course?” he asked.

The session was moderated by Professor Kishore Mahbubani, Dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Dr Barnard received his prize of S$300,000, an award certificate and a gold medallion at the Lee Kwan Yew Prize Award Ceremony and Banquet that was held that evening at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore. Earlier, it was reported by Channel NewsAsia that he would use the money for charitable purposes, such as improving the South African school system.

By Sujith Kumar

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