Environmental News Archive

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A Well Of Possibilities

31 Jan 2007 (TODAY)

New PUB projects will involve creative use of S'pore's canals, drains

Gracia Chiang

FIVE years from now, more drains, canals and reservoirs will have been
transformed into streams, rivers and lakes with lush greenery, floating
boardwalks and natural habitats for fish and birds.

This is what the Public Utilities Board (PUB) is hoping to achieve, with
five new projects in the north-east of Singapore along the Kallang River
and the Alexandra Canal. These are part of the Active, Beautiful, Clean
(ABC) Waters programme launched last April.

Announced yesterday, these initiatives to beautify the waters of Singapore
are meant to help the public appreciate the value of clean water.

"You talk to those people who have enjoyed water, those who do kayaking
and sailing. The last thing you want ... is to see dirty water," said Mr
Yap Kheng Guan, director of the PUB's 3P (Public, Private, People sectors)

The projects include two new reservoirs at Punggol and Serangoon, which
will be completed by 2009. Besides increasing Singapore's water supply,
they will also host lifestyle attractions.

Two wetlands, one the size of a football field at Punggol and another as
big as 18 football fields at Serangoon, will be created at the reservoirs.
They will feature suspension bridges, telescopes for bird-watching and
mangrove exploration, and links to parks, such as the 21-hectare Sengkang
Fruit Park that will be ready by mid-2008.

Working with the National Parks Board (NParks), the PUB will also convert
the concrete-lined canal at Bishan Park, that is usually dry and empty,
into a river with landscaped banks.

A small dam will be built to retain water from the Kallang River in order
to fill the canal. Water-play areas, as well as footbridges to improve
access to the housing estate, will be added to the park.

At Alexandra Canal, a new park with fountains and meandering streams will
be created on a deck which will be built over the canal. With this added
space, patrons at the nearby Zion Road Hawker Centre can look forward to
al fresco waterside dining.

The fifth project is a collaboration with NParks and the Housing
Development Board (HDB) for a new housing development at the site where
Sungei Whampoa and the Kallang River meet.

The PUB is looking to weave new community spaces, such as observation
decks and areas for morning exercises, into the riverside grounds.

It will spend the next few months firming up design plans based on input
from grassroots leaders and non-governmental organisations such as the
Waterways Watch Society and the Singapore Environment Council.

It is also inviting feedback from the public through a free exhibition
that will be held next Tuesday to Friday at the Asian Civilisation Museum,
where details of more projects will be revealed.

"We will make the most of our infrastructural assets, such as our canals
and reservoirs, by going beyond their traditional functions of water
storage and drainage," said Mr Tan Nguan Sen, the director in charge of
the ABC Waters programme.

But the PUB was quick to emphasise that these new developments will not
compromise the original function of the waterways, and that safety issues
will be considered.

When the upcoming reservoirs at Marina, Punggol and Serangoon are ready,
Singapore will have 17 water catchment areas in total.

There are also three other ABC Waters projects underway at Kolam Ayer,
Bedok Reservoir and MacRitchie Reservoir.