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  TodayOnline 3 Feb 06
Play your part, protect our parks
Letter from Ramchand Ramesh

Channel NewsAsia 30 Jan 07
Singapore's waterways to receive makeover
By Yvonne Yong

Today Online 31 Jan 07
A well of possibilities
New PUB projects will involve creative use of S'pore's canals, drains
Gracia Chiang gracia@mediacorp.com.sg

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) Network.

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.

Channel NewsAsia 30 Jan 07
Singapore's waterways to receive makeover
By Yvonne Yong, channelnewsasia.com

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

TodayOnline 3 Feb 06
Play your part, protect our parks
Letter from Ramchand Ramesh

I laud the PUB's efforts to transform our drains, canals and reservoirs into streams, rivers and lakes with lush greenery, floating boardwalks and natural habitats for fish and birds. It will most certainly add to the ongoing enhancements to make Singapore truly an attractive place to live.

But it begs the question: "Do Singaporeans deserve this?"

One has to only walk into any park to see indiscriminate littering cans, bottles, styrofoam food containers and so on.

Furthermore, Singaporeans do not practice recycling in spite of the many campaigns by the government authorities and community organisations.

Let us all play a part and fix this and we can transform any green space nature or man-made into a compelling environmental experiences.

Related articles on Singapore: water issues and Recreation
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