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  Channel NewsAsia, 20 Mar 05
Marina Barrage to add 10,000 hectares of water catchment area
By Dominique Loh

SINGAPORE : Singapore's demand for water has grown nine times since the 1950s to 300 million gallons a day. This is enough water to fill 500 Olympic-sized pools.

And it is estimated that in 10 years, water consumption will be a fifth more than today's. Ahead of a ceremony to mark the construction of Singapore's reservoir in the city, Channel NewsAsia finds out how the marina barrage will help the island cope with an increasing demand for water.

Rain has been the traditional source of water in Singapore for many years, but with limited land and an ever growing demand for more water, new sources need to be found. One way is the construction of the Marina Barrage.

In January this year the PUB awarded the contract to build the $226 million barrage - which will become Singapore's 15th reservoir. When completed, the Marina Barrage will enlarge the country's water catchment from half to two-thirds of the island, adding 10,000 hectares of catchment area. It will turn the Kallang Basin, Marina Bay and the Marina Channel into a fresh water reservoir.

Mr Lee Kuan Yew, Minister Mentor, said: "At that time in 87, PUB told me we cannot use the water because it is highly, the catchment is the city itself and water will be too highly polluted with all kinds of microns. "I was fairly optimistic that given time because of the growing demand for water worldwide especially in cities, there would be research to find a way to filter highly-polluted urbanised waste. This comes sooner then I expected."

Mr Tan Gee Paw, Chairman of PUB, said: "Today we can handle anything that concerns water. From rain water to used water to salted water to NEWater and we take care of all of them because we are integrated this way. "We can use technologies that cut across the various part of the water cycle, optimise it and produce water that is in the most cost effective manner." Mr Lee added: "It is important that our people understand that this is a precious resource for us as we are going to need and we want it at the lowest cost. And not only that, we can then enjoy the aesthetic environment. We'll have a reservoir within the city…..it is right within the city, the crowds are there. So it is a tremendous asset."

The 350-metre barrage will also act as a tidal barrier to control flooding in the city. It will also be a playground for those with an affinity for water.

For more on Singapore's water resource management and the Marina Barrage, catch the first of a two-part documentary series "Reservoir in the City" on Sunday on Channel NewsAsia at 8.30pm. - CNA

Channel NewsAsia, 22 Mar 05
MM Lee launches S$226m Marina Barrage project
By S Ramesh

Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew said with Singapore's diversified water strategy, there would be sustainable supply of water by 2061 when its water agreements with Malaysia ends. Singapore could be self-sufficient in water, he added. He was speaking on Tuesday at the ground breaking ceremony to dam the Marina Channel, making it the country's 15th reservoir.

When completed in 2007, this new reservoir in the city will store one-tenth of Singapore's current water demand, and enlarge the country's water catchment from half to two-thirds of the island. MM Lee said: "With the PUB's diversified water of the four National Taps, there will be sustainable supply of water for all uses by 2061 when our Water Agreements with Malaysia ends. Singapore can be self-sufficient in water. The government will provide the infrastructure. It is up to Singaporeans to maintain the clean and green environment we live in."

Mr Lee noted that the marina lake can allow canoeing, skiing, and water taxis. But before that, navigational safety procedures and pollution control measures will be needed. MM Lee said: "Any litter thrown carelessly into the canals in areas even as far as Ang Mo Kio and Alexandra will finally end up in the Marina. That very thought should make us want to protect its cleanliness and to prevent all drains, canals and rivers that flow into it from being polluted."

The $226 million barrage will also control floods. Low-lying areas in the city, Chinatown, Boat Quay, Jalan Besar and Geylang, will not have flooding unless there's exceptional rain coinciding with very high tides. The flood-prone areas in Singapore will be cut from more than 3,000 hectares in the 1970s to just 100 hectares by the end of 2007.

Mr Lee also issued another challenge for PUB. He suggested that it should think of extracting water from Jurong West although PUB had told him years ago that it was not possible because of industrial pollution in the water there. Mr Lee believes it will be possible one day with new membrane technology as extracting water from the Jurong West sector will help increase Singapore's water supply. And he hopes this can be achieved in the next 20 years.

Mr Lee said that from the 1930s till the 1980s, the Singapore River was an open sewer that smelt worse year by year. So in 1977 he challenged the Environment Ministry to make fishing possible in the rivers in ten years. He said: "The stench in the City was dreadful at low tide. In 1977, a blind clerk in Lee and Lee told my wife that he knew when his bus was approaching the Singapore River on his way to work."

"HDB helped more than 26,000 families resettled from squalid squatter huts into flats. Every remaining brick or concrete building left in the catchment of these rivers was connected to sewers. People stopped throwing rubbish into the rivers. 5,000 street hawkers were relocated into purpose-built food centres. 2,800 riverine industries were moved into industrial estates. A multitude of pig farmers, vegetable wholesale and lighter operators were relocated, the most pollutive industries closed down."

At the same time, anti-pollution measures were strictly enforced and soon marine life revived in the rivers and the marina.

MM Lee said: "We now have an effective system of refuse collection and disposal. People must help to keep our drains and canals clean so that we can collect clean rainwater. Sullage water is connected separately by sewers on to reclamation plants. We are building a Deep Tunnel Sewerage System to free up land and make the treatment of waste water more effective lowering the cost of recycling." - CNA

Related articles on Singapore: water issues
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