By Tuck-Wai Lee, CH2M HILL ASEAN/India Regional Technology Leader, Water Resources and Ecosystem Management

On March 19, 2011, Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, along with Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Minster for the Environment and Water Resources (MEWR), joined Public Utilities Board (PUB), CH2M HILL and the residents of Tanjong Pagar GRC to celebrate the official opening of the Active, Beautiful and Clean (ABC) Waters project at Alexandra Canal.

John Quarendon, CH2M HILL Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific, was at the event to meet with the dignitaries and commented, “It was pleasure to see how the canal has been transformed for the social and educational benefit of the local residents and how it had been immediately embraced by the grassroots community of the district.”

The Alexandra Canal, which is part of the Marina Catchment, is one of the first few strategic projects under PUB’s ABC Waters Programme which began rolling out in 2006. Through this programme, the national water agency aims to transform Singapore’s reservoirs and waterways into beautiful and clean water bodies that would be bustling with life and activity.

In this project, the 1.2km stretch of Alexandra Canal between Tanglin Road and Delta Road has been transformed into an attractive waterway with re-designed banks softened by plantings to allow for seamless integration of space and usage with nearby developments. A 200m short stretch of the open waterway was decked over to create an interesting water cascade and shallow stream play area, and also to act as a viewing platform to bring the people closer to the water, allowing the public to enjoy the beauty of the revitalized waterways.

A key feature of the Alexandra Canal project is the integration of urban wetlands on the new deck. The wetlands, together with vegetated swales, bio-retention swales and rain gardens that were incorporated into the canal, function as natural filters which remove fine to colloidal particles and dissolved pollutants in the water. This strategic project demonstrates how these sustainable stormwater management elements can be integrated into urban public spaces to benefit both the waterway and the value of developments along it. At the same time, the wetlands serve as new habitat for wildlife and help to beautify the community spaces to draw more people and activities to the water, fostering public appreciation, and protection, of the water.

An educational hut built on the deck showcases informative posters that educate the public on stewardship of the watershed, wetlands concepts and the long term goals of the ABC Waters Programme. These posters were developed by Crescent Girls’ School students in collaboration with CH2M HILL and PUB. The students also took part in a pre-opening wetlands planting event, giving them hands-on experience in creating this outdoor educational environment.

CH2M HILL is proud to have helped PUB create yet another successful ABC Waters Project at Alexandra Canal, which is a strategically important step in developing sustainable urban watershed management and also in the efforts to transform Singapore into a sustainable “City of Gardens and Water.”