Managing Urban Stormwater in a Increasingly Complex Environment - The ABC Waters Programme

By Hui Chng Chan, CH2M HILL Project Manager

Hui Chng Chan presents “Innovative Solutions: Coping with uncertainty in a time of change: Innovative solutions to address future urban water and sanitation challenges,” at the International Water Association 2nd Development Congress and Exhibition on November 21.

Singapore’s high population density and limited land area makes land a very valuable resource, which increases opportunity costs for allocating land for stormwater conveyance infrastructure. Singapore has developed a comprehensive network of waterways that serve not only as the stormwater conveyance network, but also as an urban reservoir augmenting the city’s scarce water resources. To develop the reservoir beyond storage and drainage, Singapore’s PUB launched the Active Beautiful Clean (ABC) Waters Programme in 2006. The Programme aims to transform the waterways and reservoirs into vibrant, clean and aesthetically pleasing attractions for recreational activities.

The ABC Waters Programme puts emphasis on adopting a holistic and integrated approach to planning, design, and implementation that is vital for establishing a sustainable model for water infrastructure development. Multiple disciplines are required to develop solutions that meet multiple goals, including the desire for recreational and land use improvements. In order to incorporate and design these multi-disciplinary goals, the number of design disciplines and stakeholders increases significantly. In addition, physical features require more complex maintenance frameworks to ensure sustainability.

The key challenge in planning, designing, and implementing multi-disciplinary projects is integrating conflicting design principles from various fields of expertise. For example, in order for the stormwater system design to balance both ecological and engineering principles, modern solutions known as “low impact development” or “green infrastructure” are needed. These integrated design processes have to be applied in a practical and effective manner, as these projects are typically at the edge of the waterways and overlap with the adjacent developments.

Each project developed under the ABC Waters Programme also supports on-going public education and outreach activities that focus on long-term public communication. A demonstration project was first developed concurrent with the development of the master plan in order to update various agencies and community sectors on the fresh initiatives and new approaches that are being included in the master plan. The demonstration project sets the framework for the design and implementation of subsequent ABC Waters projects.

The demonstration project and each subsequent project are selected carefully to maximize location potential, illustrate different elements of the overall master plan, and gain support for future projects. Read this blog by Tuck-Wai Lee, CH2M HILL ASEAN/India Regional Technology Leader for Water Resources and Ecosystem Management, to learn more about ABC Waters project at Alexandra Canal that officially opened in March of this year.

My International Water Association Development Congress presentation during the Young Water Professionals workshop will discuss managing urban stormwater in an increasingly complex environment and the strategies and challenges of re-developing a stormwater canal in a highly urbanised setting, which also includes stormwater wetland modules for demonstration and education purposes. I am looking forward to the Congress and hearing and discussing all of the innovative approaches communities are taking to address future urban water and sanitation challenges.

Hui Chng Chan is a project manager with CH2M HILL. She has more than 10 years of experience in a range of major water services projects in Singapore. Her experience covers master planning, design, construction and supervision works for a variety of projects, spanning wastewater treatment, water reuse, seawater desalination, gravity wastewater collection networks and stormwater systems. She was the construction manager for the Kolam Ayer Demonstration project under the Active Beautiful Clean Waters programme. In the Power Seraya Desalination Plant Project, she was the process engineer for the plant design, testing and commissioning of the 1st 16”RO full scale plant. She also carried out the hydraulic modelling for the naturalization of the existing 3km canal into a meandering river for the Kallang River in Bishan Park.


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  1. [...] presentation titled, “Innovative Solutions: Coping with uncertainty in a time change: Innovative solutions to address futu…,” focuses on how to manage urban storm water in an increasingly complex environment, while using [...]

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