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Rain gardens among makeover plans for 20 PUB water projects

SINGAPORE — Twenty more waterways and water bodies will be getting a facelift within the next five years under national water agency PUB’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) programme.

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SINGAPORE — Twenty more waterways and water bodies will be getting a facelift within the next five years under national water agency PUB’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) programme.

These projects, announced as the ABC Waters programme reached its 10-year mark, include a new initiative to teach young children about water quality and habitat creation through the building of “rain gardens” in schools.

These rain gardens, which will be built in eight schools and slated for completion by the second quarter of next year, are designed to absorb rainwater run-off, so students can have hands-on testing of water quality from the rain gardens, for example.

The water bodies getting a makeover include Jurong Lake, Kallang Riverside, Alkaff Lake (Bidadari Pond), Sungei Simpang Kanan, Chestnut Drive Outlet Drain, Sungei Whampoa and Bukit Batok West Outlet Drain.

At Bidadari estate, the PUB is constructing a detention pond, which temporarily stores excess rainwater, to be integrated with the upcoming HDB development and park space.

The Kallang Riverside project will also feature detention ponds, rain gardens and bio-retention swales, which will be incorporated in private development plots.

Three projects also broke ground yesterday at Hougang Avenue 10, Sungei Pinang and Serangoon Reservoir.

At Sungei Pinang, for example, the PUB will be building a new bridge to connect Punggol Park with the Housing Development Board (HDB) estates opposite, besides beautifying the riverbanks.

Residents living near the new projects whom TODAY spoke to welcomed the future changes.

Undergraduate Mark Cheong, who lives in Eastwood Green condominium, close to Bedok Canal, said he thought it “has been a long time coming”.

Under the Bedok Canal project, about 1.2km of the banks will be enhanced with greenery, while two neighbourhood parks — Eastwood Park and Bedok Ria — will be refurbished and designed to be integrated with the waterway.

“A lot of people live, exercise and travel along the canal, so sprucing it up would definitely make it much more pleasant.

“Right now, while the park connector may be great, the canal itself can be a bit of an eyesore with dirty water and stained seawalls,” the 24-year-old added.

Civil servant Gillian Chan, 23, who lives at Hougang Avenue 10, said the PUB should consider improving upon the communal space to be built there.

Basic shower facilities or even facilities for dogs, for example, could make it “more than a regular park” she added.

Nine other projects are in progress and all will be completed by 2018.

Over at Pang Sua Pond in Bukit Panjang, for example, the PUB is currently building a boardwalk connecting residents to amenities such as the Senja-Cashew Community Club, two lookout decks as well as a fixed performance stage on the water for residents to use.

In a media briefing last week, the PUB also gave an update on its target of revitalising 100 water bodies and waterways by 2030 under the ABC Waters programme.

So far, 32 projects have been completed, including the flagship project at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

Commenting on the progress of the ABC Waters programme, Mr Kavickumar Muruganathan, head of eco-certifications and lead environmental engineer at the Singapore Environment Council (SEC), said rejuvenating water bodies creates a conducive ecosystem for greater biodiversity, such as the famous otter family at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

“PUB got the model right by bringing the heartlands near to water ... people can get up close to it and cherish it as a natural resource,” he said.

The SEC used to administer the ABC Waters Learning Trails programme to primary and secondary schools up until last year.

They also helped develop syllabuses that taught students the history and geography of a water body, and gave them hands-on activities such as measuring the pH value of water.

Waterways Watch Society chairman Eugene Heng said that while the programme’s intentions were “very commendable and noble”, the bigger challenge was how residents would keep the water bodies clean.

“Very often we find them being used wrongly ... people fish at non-fishing zones, use live bait when they’re not supposed to, and there’s trash everywhere,” he said.

The PUB could work with community centres and neighbourhood centres on a programme that promotes social responsibility among its residents, he suggested.

“It’s not a question about bringing in more cleaners or putting more bins around. It’s about inculcating a culture from when you start school that our water bodies should be kept clean. What’s the point of making them beautiful if they’re going to be dirty afterwards?” Mr Heng added.

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