Singapore blames Malaysia for pandan-smelling tap water

Singaporeans love the smell and taste of fragrant pandan leaves in many things but tap water.
National water agency PUB said yesterday it has flushed out and isolated pandan-smelling water from the pipes that led to complaints from several residents this week in areas including Yishun, Tampines and Pasir Ris. It also said that the affected water, which contained traces of tetrahydrofuran, came from Malaysia and not from local sources.


“Based on our investigations, the issue has been traced to water imported from Malaysia,” the water agency wrote online yesterday.
“PUB has since isolated the affected water. We also took extra precaution to flush out the affected network pipes and water tanks, and replenished them with water produced by our local waterworks. We ramped up our local productions yesterday.”
Singapore sources water from the Johor River in Malaysia. Locally, we either desalinate water, obtain water from reservoirs, or filter out our own wastewater into what’s popularly known as Newater.


Several residents in the past had complained that their tap water smelled like the pandan leaves, a popular ingredient in dishes and desserts like the pandan chiffon cake, after boiling them.


PUB said that the smell came from the organic tetrahydrofuran compound in Malaysia’s waters. The amount of the compound it said it had detected was relatively small and considered safe to drink.


“The amount of THF detected in the water supply is less than 10 parts per billion (10ppb) or equivalent to two tablespoons in an Olympic-sized pool,” it said.


“THF is highly soluble in water and has low boiling point, and has no adverse impact on health due to the trace amounts present. The water supply remains fully potable and safe for consumption straight from the tap.”
Affected residents should not be smelling pandan from their tap waters anymore starting today. But if they do, it could be due to the remnants of the organic compound in the water pipes at homes.


PUB suggested running the tap water for several minutes before using it.
UPDATE ON “PANDAN SMELL” IN WATER
PUB has responded to all customer feedback since yesterday on a faint “pandan smell” when tap water is boiled.
The smell is due to trace amounts of tetrahydrofuran (THF) – a type of organic compound – in the water. Based on our investigations, the issue has been traced to water imported from Malaysia. PUB has since isolated the affected water. We also took extra precaution to flush out the affected network pipes and water tanks, and replenish…ed them with water produced by our local waterworks. We ramped up our local productions yesterday.
Our officers have conducted on-site tests and collected water samples from customers tap points and our water mains for further analysis, and we will continue to take new samples today to continue the tests. So far, our tests show that every water quality parameters is within normal range, indicating no compromise to water safety.
The amount of THF detected in the water supply is less than 10 parts per billion (10ppb) or equivalent to two tablespoons in an Olympic-sized pool. THF is highly soluble in water and has low boiling point, and has no adverse impact on health due to the trace amounts present. The water supply remains fully potable and safe for consumption straight from the tap.
Customers should not detect any smell from tap water freshly supplied from our waterworks. Any remnants of smell could be due to remnant water remaining in house pipes. This can be resolved by running your taps for about 5 minutes to flush out the water. PUB will continue to monitor water quality closely.
We expect the issue to be resolved today.
This article, Singapore blames Malaysia for pandan-smelling tap water, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.