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PUB to start studying ways to protect City-East Coast and Jurong Island coastlines

SINGAPORE — National water agency PUB will start conducting studies this year on how to protect specific segments of the coastline along City-East Coast and Jurong Island, as it steps up to take on a new role of coordinating Singapore's efforts to manage coastal flood risk.

PUB to start studying ways to protect City-East Coast and Jurong Island coastlines

National water agency PUB will assume the role of the country’s coastal protection agency from next month.

SINGAPORE — National water agency PUB will start conducting studies this year on how to protect specific segments of the coastline along City-East Coast and Jurong Island, as it steps up to take on a new role next month, of coordinating Singapore's efforts to manage coastal flood risk.

The moves were announced by Environment and Water Resources Minister Masagos Zulkifli during Parliament on Wednesday (March 4) during the debate on his ministry's budget.

The studies come after a Coastal Adaptation Study was completed last year, which looked at the vulnerability of Singapore’s coastlines to future sea level rise.

Commissioned by the Building and Construction Authority in 2013, the study identified Jurong Island and the low-lying City-East Coast as the most vulnerable areas.

In his National Day Rally last year, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had also highlighted these two areas of Singapore as “critical” ones that will be particularly affected by rising sea levels.

At that time, Mr Lee had also warned that with sea levels projected to rise by 1 metre by the end of the century, rising sea levels will pose a grave threat to Singapore. 

He said that the Government is studying several options, which could cost S$100 billion or more, to build coastal defences against rising sea levels.

When asked how City-East Coast and Jurong Island were identified as priority areas for coastal protection, Ms Hazel Khoo, PUB’s Director (Designate) of the Coastal Protection Department, said that a variety of factors were considered.

These include the potential impact of a flood event, criticality of assets such as airports, economic and industrial districts within the area, the estimated costs of protection measures as well as opportunities to dovetail with upcoming developments.

“Parts of Singapore which are highly urbanised and highly industrialised, such as the City-East Coast stretch and Jurong Island, have therefore been identified as priority areas for coastal protection,” added Ms Khoo.

PUB will commence studies later this year to develop long-term protection strategies and conceptual engineering designs for specific segments of the coastline in both areas. 

The agency said that the solutions will need to protect against combined flood risks near the coast by ensuring stormwater can be discharged into the sea in the event of intense rainfall and prevent seawater inundation due to extreme sea levels as a result of climate change.

PUB said that in addition to working with other agencies and stakeholders, it will also draw on the experience of other coastal cities and low-lying countries for its studies.

For instance, it is taking reference from New York City's Lower Manhattan Climate Resilience Study, which was initiated in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The study looks at redesigning the Lower Manhattan shoreline to make it more resilient to rising sea levels caused by climate change. 

PUB will also take reference from Rotterdam in Netherlands and Hamburg in Germany, both port cities vulnerable to the threats of storm surges and floods from the North Sea in northern Europe.  

Speaking in Parliament, Mr Masagos said that as the Government embarks on coastal protection, it will also identify new opportunities for urban development. 

“For instance, we could reclaim a series of islands offshore, and even connect these islands up by building barrages to create community spaces for Singaporeans, and contribute to water resilience. PUB will partner various stakeholders to explore these possibilities,” he said.

When asked if the agency will also study how to protect the coastline in other areas of Singapore, Ms Khoo said that coastal protection is a “massive-and long-term undertaking” and that studies for other stretches of the island’s coast, including offshore areas, will start at a later stage.

PUB ASSUMES ROLE AS COASTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

To consolidate the Government’s efforts to protect Singapore from rising sea levels, PUB will assume the role of the nation’s coastal protection agency from next month, on top of its current role as the national water agency. 

This will allow it to lead and coordinate efforts to manage coastal flood risks and explore methods to protect Singapore from intense rainfall and encroaching waters, PUB said in a statement.

To oversee all coastal protection functions, the agency will set up a new Coastal Protection Department. The new department will work closely with an existing department that handles issues related to inland flooding and oversees Singapore's network of drains and canals.

The Coastal Protection Department will embark on engineering studies to develop the strategies and engineering designs for coastal protection measures. 

It will also oversee the development of a model which can assess the risks from the combined effects of rainfall, sea level rise, as well as coastal surges and tides.

By combining coastal protection responsibilities with its stormwater management functions, PUB will be in a position to look at inland and coastal flooding holistically, strengthening Singapore’s overall resilience against climate change, said the agency.

Related topics

PUB coastal flood risk City-East Coast Jurong Island rising sea levels

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