Summary

With population density of over 7,700 inhabitants per km2 and limited water resources, Singapore’s water resource management is a huge challengexi. In the 1960s and 1970s, Singapore faced the problems of polluted rivers, water shortages and widespread flooding. Over the last 50 years, PUB, Singapore’s national water agency has developed a diversified water supply through the Four National Taps, namely water from local catchments, imported water, NEWater and desalinated water. These make up the long-term strategy that ensures a sustainable supply of water for Singapore. Today, two-thirds of Singapore’s land area is water catchment, and rainwater is collected and stored in 17 reservoirs around the island. One of these is Marina Reservoir, which is a reservoir in the city that was the vision of Singapore’s first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew more than two decades ago. It was created by building the Marina Barragexli across the 350 m wide Marina Channel. With the largest and most urbanised catchment at 10,000 hectares, the reservoir collects water from some of the oldest, most densely built-up areas of Singapore and its Central Business District.

 

Results

With three functions fused into one facility, the Marina Barrage exemplifies PUB’s long-term planning and integrated water management approach. First, it helps secure water supply. With the creation of Marina Reservoir and two other reservoirs, Punggol and Serangoon, Singapore’s water catchment areas increased from half to two-thirds of Singapore’s land areas in 2011. Advancements in membrane technology have allowed Singapore to treat water collected in urban catchments to well within World Health Organization (WHO) drinking water standards. Second, Marina Barrage is part of a comprehensive flood control scheme to alleviate flooding in the low-lying areas of the city, such as Chinatown and Boat Quay. During heavy rain, the series of nine crest gates at the dam will be activated to release excess storm water into the sea when the tide is low. In the case of high tide, 7 giant pumps, each capable of pumping an Olympics-size swimming pool per minute, will drain excess storm water into the sea. Third, as the water in the Marina Basin is unaffected by the tides, its water level can be kept relatively constant all year round. This makes it an ideal lifestyle destination for water-based recreational activities such as sailing, kayaking and dragon-boating. With a view of the city skyline, the iconic grass turf roof provides a unique space for a variety of land-based community activities.

Since its opening, the Marina Barrage has received more than 10 million visitors and hosts more than 1,800 local and international events, including the National Day celebrations and New Year’s Eve Countdown Party. The Marina Reservoir was also the venue for the rowing and canoeing competitions of the 2010 Youth Olympic Games and also five sports competitions of the 28th South East Asian Games held in June 2015.

 

Reasons for success

The creation of Marina Reservoir was made possible by a 10-year massive clean-up of the Singapore River and Kallang River from 1977 to 1987, which was a result of the integrated planning and close coordination between various ministries and agencies led by the then Ministry of the Environment. Singapore adopts a holistic approach to managing its water resources, essentially overseeing the entire hydrologic cycle through one national water agency, PUB. The approach of “closing the water loop” allows Singapore to develop a diversified water supply through the Four National Taps strategy and has enabled the government to deliver an efficient, safe and sustainable water supply. The Marina Barrage is an example of an infrastructure that serves dual objectives of increasing water supply and flood control.

 

When/why a city might apply an approach like this

A city might choose this approach if it has either a growing population, a diminishing or otherwise unstable water supply, or both. A city should consider this type of approach if it is facing warmer conditions or possibly drought in the city itself or elsewhere in its watershed/water sourcing system.

 

C40 Good Practice Guides

C40's Good Practice Guides offer mayors and urban policymakers roadmaps for tackling climate change, reducing climate risk and encouraging sustainable urban development. With 100 case studies taken from cities of every size, geography and stage of development around the world, the Good Practice Guides provide tangible examples of climate solutions that other cities can learn from. 

The Climate Change Adaptation in Delta Cities Good Practice Guide is available for download here.  The full collection of C40 Good Practice Guides is available for download here.  

All references can be found in the full guide.