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     FrontPage Edition: Tue 6 February 2007

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Turning Singapore into a city of gardens and waters



An Excerpt

Imagine looking out of your HDB apartment window and instead of seeing a huge concrete canal, you set your eyes on a sparkling river with landscaped banks, with kayakers paddling in the stream, with lively play areas for children, and with boardwalks and bridges for families to enjoy outings together.
This is not a far-fetched scenario. Singapore has an extensive water network that spans 14 reservoirs, 32 major rivers and more than 7,000 km of other waterways including canals and drains. Few cities in the world have such a pervasive and well-integrated network of waterways.
Our waterways were built primarily for functional reasons. Our drains and canals were developed as infrastructure for flood prevention, and our reservoirs for water storage.
This remains the main purpose of our water infrastructure, which delivers our supply of drinking water, and controls drainage and wastewater management.
But having developed a comprehensive base of water infrastructure, we should now take the next step forward.
Our waterways should do more than meet our water needs. They should also enhance our living environment and lifestyle. This calls for a bold change of mindset.
In the past, we protected our water resources by keeping people away from them; now, we will bring people closer to water so that they will enjoy and cherish it more.
Many of our rivers and canals are in or close to the residential heartlands. The waterways are therefore a natural focal point for water-based activities, community events, and other recreational options.
By linking up our water bodies and waterways, we will create new community spaces that are clean, pleasant, and bustling with life and activities.
We will integrate our water bodies with our parks and green spaces and turn Singapore into a ¡°city of gardens and waters¡±.
This is what we aim to achieve with the ABC Waters programme. There are three broad elements in the programme.
First, ¡°A¡± for Active, so that Singaporeans can enjoy a wide range of water-based activities, from canoeing and sailing to dragon-boat racing.
Second, ¡®B¡¯ for Beautiful, because we want to transform our waterways into beautiful streams, rivers and lakes that enhance our living environment.
Third, ¡®C¡¯ for Clean, so that whatever we do with our water bodies, they will continue to be kept litter- and pollution-free.
To achieve these goals of the ABC Waters programme, PUB and its consultants have drawn up a master-plan for the long-term development of the water catchments.
We will proceed in a sustainable manner, and strike the right balance between maximising the land for development and protecting it for recreational use.
As far as possible, existing natural, historical and cultural resources will be preserved, and integrated with new developments.
PUB has already identified 150 locations where projects can be implemented in phases over the next 10 to 15 years. These projects will be implemented through a combination of public and private sector expertise and financing.
Let me highlight two examples.
The Kallang River¡¯s upstream stretches flow through Bishan Park, which is a popular recreation area for the large residential areas nearby, including Ang Mo Kio and Bishan.
Native plant species will be re-introduced along the river, as an extension of the nearby nature reserves.
New features like an integrated river playground and water play areas will be introduced to encourage more interaction with the water.
The existing ponds in the Park can also be converted into wetland ponds that help to improve the quality of storm-water entering the Kallang River.
All this will enhance residents¡¯ experience of Bishan Park and Kallang River as a venue for both active recreation, as well as more quiet uses such as meditation and simple enjoyment of the surroundings.
Another example is Sungei Punggol. Its peaceful suburban atmosphere will be enhanced with a floating island.
This island will be planted with mangroves and wetlands which can help purify the waters, and act as a habitat for birds and fishes.
The island will also be connected to both river banks, forming a convenient link for residents to access amenities on both sides of the banks and enjoy the surroundings.
In time to come, Sungei Punggol can become a sanctuary to explore nature as well as to carry out water activities like canoeing and kayaking.

Full Text of Speech

Source: Media Release 6 Feb 2007

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