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Singapore's waterways to receive makeover

By Yvonne Yong, channelnewsasia.com
30 January 2007

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s drains, canals and reservoirs will undergo transformations into more user-friendly streams, rivers and lakes by 2009, according to national water agency PUB.

The public can get a peek into the long-term plans at an exhibition next week.

The Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters programme is intended to bring people closer to water through improved waterfronts and recreation areas as well as foster education about this precious resource.

"In the last two years, we have been trying to bring people nearer to water through the introduction of water activities at reservoirs, such as kayaking, rowing, fishing and so on," says Tan Nguan Sen, Project Director for ABC.

"Under the ABC Waters programme, we will bring the water to the people by exploiting the potential of our water bodies throughout the island."

Singapore already has a pervasive network of 14 reservoirs, 32 major rivers and more than 7000 km of canals and drains.

Since the launch of the ABC Waters programme last April, three projects at Bedok Reservoir, MacRitchie Reservoir and a stretch of Kallang River at Kolam Ayer have been underway.

The aim also is to increase Singapore’s water catchment areas from covering half of the island to two thirds, within five years.

Today, the PUB revealed further plans for the ABC Waters signature projects including two new reservoirs to be created in the northeast of Singapore; the rejuvenation of Kallang River; and Optimising Alexandra Canal and its water.

The two new reservoirs will be created when Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon are dammed, to create Singapore’s 16th and 17th reservoirs by 2009.

The Punggol Reservoir will include a floating wetland the size of half a football field, where the public will be able to access via a suspended bridge on one side and a floating boardwalk on the other.

"The suspended bridge will offer an aerial view of the reservoir and of kayakers rowing beneath it, while the floating boardwalk gives an entirely different experience. As it floats just above the water, the floating boardwalk will move in tandem with any vibrations in the water," says Mr Tan.

Along the edge of Serangoon Reservoir, the Lorong Halus Wetland will become Singapore’s first constructed wetland, having been transformed from a former landfill.

This will be the size of 18 football fields and will bring together a range of plants such as cat tails and common reeds that filter surface run-off from the former landfill, allowing for natural purification to be part of the water treatment process.

The longest river in Singapore at 10 km, Kallang River, will also be given a facelift in areas where the public are likely to utilise it for recreation.

Under a joint ABC Waters project between PUB and the National Parks Board, the huge concrete canal at Bishan Park will also be transformed, becoming a river with landscaped banks.

Residents of the housing estate near Bishan Park now separated by the canal will have direct access to the Park with improved footbridges and be able to enjoy streams and water play areas.

"As part of the proposal for Bishan Park, the water edge of the river will be softened with plants which will create a strong connection and extension from Lower Peirce Reservoir, where the river originates. Water will be very much part of the park which will demonstrate how recreation and storm water management can co-exist", says Yeo Meng Tong, Director, Parks Development, National Parks Board.

A transformed 200m stretch of Kallang River at Kolam Ayer will feature interactive structures such as an Archimedes Screw and water wheel which will allow residents to draw water from the canal into a stream.

Patrons at the Zion Road Hawker Centre will also be able to enjoy outdoor water features along Alexandra Canal, one of the main canals flowing into the Singapore River.

"We want to bring everyone close to water so that we can all be inspired and motivated to take care of our precious water resource by using it wisely and keeping it clean. Water is a shared resource and as the national water agency, PUB hopes all of us will realize we are all owners of it," adds Mr Tan.

The public can find out more about the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme at the Asian Civilisations Museum from Feb 6–11, where experts will share their views and water activities, such as electric boat rides and aqua bikes, will be available. - cna.com/yy