The U.S. and Singapore Water Tap Comparison

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US-Singapore         In a worldwide press release concurrent with this article, R&D Tax Savers released its five part Water Tap R&D Tax Credit article series including Water Analytics, Water Recycling, Desalination, Advanced Water Technologies, and The U.S. and Singapore Water Tap Comparison.

•    In our Water Analytics article, we discuss how big data can address water systems. This article brings to bare the particular U.S. expertise in big data and predictive analytics.
•    In our Water Recycling article, we focus on the technologies behind recycling used water and sewage back into usable, potable water for industry/drinking
•    In our Advanced Water Technologies article, we take a look at several technologies that are transforming how we collect, produce, and recycle water.
•    In our Desalination article, we focus on the current and future trajectory of water desalination as a technology to be further improved, researched, and deployed.
•    Finally, in the within article we delve into the U.S./Singapore water tap comparison.

The Five U.S. Water Taps

The U.S. Water Challenge

        The United States faces serious water shortages in multiple regions. Droughts in California and the mid-west are especially prevalent.  In 2013, California recorded record low precipitation levels across the state.  Winter snowpack levels in the mountains were the lowest on record in the last 100 years.  In January 2014, California cut allocations from its State Water Project to zero percent.  Water reservoirs dropped to dangerous levels and volunteer workers went door to door offering bottled water to residents.

        In 2011, Texas and New Mexico saw the worst drought since the dustbowl in the 1930’s.  Severe heat waves brought temperatures up over 100 degrees for forty days straight in Dallas.  In New Mexico the drought lasted into 2014 and is still a serious concern.  The time is right to take serious action and implement plans beyond simple conservation. The U.S. should look towards Singapore, an innovative country with more experience in dealing with the issue.
The four Singapore water taps are presented as follows:

The Four Singapore Water Taps


        Singapore is a sophisticated nation that confronts severe fresh water shortage issues using a diversified approach based on four action items it calls the "4 Taps".  The U.S. can benefit from Singapore's demonstrated ways of dealing with water issues. The 5 U.S. water tap articles featured in this series were inspired by Singapore's innovative 4 tap water initiative.

        The four taps of Singapore involve innovative water solutions based on the following four strategies:

  1. Collecting water from local catchment areas
  2. Importing water from Malaysia
  3. Recycled water in NEWater - a reverse osmosis water cycle cutting program; and
  4. Desalination

        Catchment in Singapore is important because the surface area of the country doesn't allow for easy or simple collection points. Importing of water from nearby Malaysia understandably creates issues of economy, independence and security, and for this reason Singapore is leveraging its NEWater and desalination efforts to manage and limit the water it needs to import and compensate for the water it cannot catch naturally. Singapore accomplishes its short and long term Water supply goals through fostering and realization of research and development, policy, and innovation.

        The four water-tap strategies all have a central focus on innovative technology. Similarly, in the U.S., the solution lies in innovative technologies.  Federal and State Research and Development tax credits are available to support the costs of this innovation.

The U.S. Research & Development Tax Credit

        Enacted in 1981, the U.S. Federal Research and Development (R&D) Tax Credit allows a credit of up to 13 percent of eligible spending for new and improved products and processes. Qualified research must meet the following four criteria:

  • New or improved products, processes, or software
  • Technological in nature
  • Elimination of uncertainty
  • Process of experimentation

        Eligible costs include employee wages, cost of supplies, cost of testing, contract research expenses, and costs associated with developing a patent. On December 19, 2014, President Obama signed the bill extending the R&D Tax Credit for the 2014 tax year.


        As previously mentioned, the U.S. faces similar water shortages in several regions, which increasingly brings attention to the issues associated with the amount of water wasted through aging infrastructure, the current policies in place regarding water use and conservation, the current supplies and production of drinking water, and environmental issues that threaten our water supplies. These challenges have spurred some research into these issues, and we have presented them in this article series as avenues for further innovation and research and development.

        These technologies are all areas of continuing improvement and may qualify for Federal and state R&D tax credits. If the U.S follows the example of the Singapore diversified solutions initiative, it could accelerate the development of solutions for our water dilemma and enable the U.S. to develop into a leading water innovator.

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Charles R Goulding Attorney/CPA, is the President of R&D Tax Savers.

Michael Wilshere is a Tax Analyst with R&D Tax Savers.

Adam Starsiak is a Tax Analyst with R&D Tax Savers.