BIRTH OF THE BARRAGE
The completion of the S$226 million Marina Barrage project marks another milestone in Singapore’s water story. We give you a sneak preview of PUB’s latest water engineering showpiece.
The Marina Barrage will boost Singapore’s water supply, act as a tidal barrier and serve as a recreational venue.
Singaporeans and overseas visitors will soon have a vibrant newdowntown venue to appreciate and enjoy water. Central to this waterscape development is, of course, the Marina Barrage, which will join a host of other exciting developments sprouting up around the Marina Reservoir, including Singapore’s first integrated resort, a new business and financial centre and the city’s latest crowd-puller, a 42-storey observation wheel known as the Singapore Flyer.
Representing yet another exciting chapter in Singapore’s water story, the Marina Barrage aims to serve three benefits: it creates a freshwater reservoir to boost the island’s water supply, acts as a tidal barrier to prevent flooding in the low-lying areas in the city and offers a venue for water-based recreation in the heart of the city.
The vision of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, the barrage had its genesis more than 20 years ago in 1987, just as a massive 10-year clean-up of the Singapore River, one of the main tributaries feeding the Marina Channel, was being completed.
Today, this vision has become a reality. When completed, the barrage will create the island’s 15th reservoir and its first in the city. With a catchment area of 10,000 hectares, or one-sixth the size of Singapore, the Marina catchment will be the island’s largest and most urbanised catchment.
Apart from fresh water supply, the Marina Barrage acts as a tidal barrier by alleviating flooding in low-lying areas in the city such as Boat Quay, Shenton Way and Chinatown. If it rains heavily during low-tide, the barrage, which separates the reservoir from the sea, will lower its crest gates to release excess stormwater from the reservoir into the sea. However, if heavy rain falls during high-tide, the crest gates stay closed and giant drainage pumps are activated topump excess stormwater out to sea, preventing flooding.
As the water in the Marina Basin is unaffected by the tides, its water level is kept at a constant, making it conducive for water sports such as canoeing and boating all year round. More than just a hub for water activities, the barrage and its surroundings are primed to be a major lifestyle attraction where visitors can be close to the water and revel in the tranquil setting.
“The Marina Barrage will bring many exciting possibilities,” said PUB’s Director of 3P Network Mr Yap Kheng Guan. “We hope that the community will be as excited as we are about these possibilities and work with PUB to make it a lifestyle destination and, eventually, a Singapore icon.”
Solar panels located on the green roof converts solar energy into utility grade electricity.
Besides being an engineering showpiece, the Marina Barrage aims to educate the community on important environmental and water issues. Designed, constructed and operated on green principles, visitors are welcomed at the entrance by solar-powered lights on flexible rods, demonstrating how the Marina Barrage incorporates sustainable energy technology into its building design.
Unlike other buildings with concrete roofs, the Marina Barrage’s iconic green roof serves as an insulation layer to lower indoor temperature, minimising the building’s airconditioning requirements.
Solar panels located on the green roof demonstrates the application of green renewable energy by converting solar energy into utility grade electricity. This supplements the daytime power requirements of the Marina Barrage. The solar panels — 405 panels in total — make up Singapore’s largest solar energy system in a single site. Here are some other highlights of the Marina Barrage:
CENTRAL COURTYARD & COMMUNITY WATER PLAYGROUND
A fountain in the central courtyard serves as a focal point for visitors.
Water features and play areas let visitors get close to water. Through play interaction, the community will develop a stronger bond with water and understand how they can play a part in keeping our waterways and catchments clean. A stylised map of the estates in the Marina catchment will allow visitors to understand how thoughtlessly thrown litter can find its way into the Marina Reservoir through a network of waterways. There is even a stage in the central courtyard which can host performances.
The Marina Bridge is an iconic landmark of the Marina Barrage.
This will soon be a familiar Singapore landmark. Built across the Marina Channel, visitors can stroll across the bridge linking Marina South to Marina East, taking in an unimpeded view of the city skyline. Information panels interspersed along the bridge will explain the workings of the barrage’s crest gates and highlight points of interest in the vicinity.
Water from local catchments will soon get a boost with two new reservoirs in the eastern half of Singapore.
SUSTAINABLE SINGAPORE GALLERY
Comprising six galleries, this exhibition, which promotes environmental awareness, is one of the main draws of Marina Barrage and takes about 45 minutes to fully explore.
GALLERY 1: A lightshow on an ‘organic tree’ throws attention on environmental challenges facing the world. Blue light signals a pristine environment; red is a sign the environment is challenged while a green light signifies human intervention to recover our damaged environment. Another feature of this gallery is the wall of NEWater bottles and information about the NEWater process.
GALLERY 2: Find out more about the Kallang and Singapore Rivers clean-up effort. A silhouette of the Singapore city skyline illustrates how the city developed through different decades and how Singapore has improved its environment. LCD screens reveal how Singapore harnessed technology to grow from two sources of water to four.
GALLERY 3: Focusing on PUB’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme, where communities are encouraged to enjoy our reservoirs, this gallery is a simulation of a walk along our waterways, complete with light boxes and soothing sound effects.
GALLERY 4: Visitors can observe a working model of the barrage even as its engineering aspects are brought into focus.
GALLERY 5: In this section devoted to environmental sustainability, step on a glass floor and learn how Singapore has married economic, environmental and social needs when developing the country. This amazing story is shared in an integrated manner through a map on the floor, architecture models, multi-media displays and a grand video wall.
GALLERY 6: Encouraging 3P (People, Private, Public) engagement to care for the environment and the waterways is the subject of this gallery with community connection as its theme.
LCD screens introduce the function and the three benefits of the barrage: water supply, flood control, recreation and enjoyment. Visitors can also find out about the activities happening in the facility and pick up environmental sustainability tips.
SHOPS & RESTAURANTS
When fully operational, the facility will have eateries and a gift shop, allowing visitors to pick up a souvenir and dine by the waterfront.
FUNCTION & EVENT FACILITIES
The turfed green roof-top, accessible via a curved ramp, offers an excellent view of the surrounding area. With its 10,000 capacity, it is an ideal venue for large-scale events such as corporate functions, outdoor concerts and weddings. Other function rooms within the facility can also be utilised for off-site meetings.
Under the Art Masterplan, iconic art sculptures will be placed on the garden roof-top and around the facility’s premises, forming an arts park for visitors to enjoy. Singapore’s foremost potter Iskandar Jalil has created a pottery installation known as ‘Beneficence 3’. Comprising three pottery vessels, it will be placed on the base of the inner ramp leading to the roof-top. Spanish artist Lorenzo Quinn’s sculpture ‘The Force of Nature’ is another captivating creation. Other artworks, including those by Singaporean and German artists, can be found at the main entrance and the courtyard.
The creation of Punggol Reservoir is part of an overall plan to boost water from local catchments in Singapore.
Four dams constructed at the estuaries of Sungei Punggol and Sungei Serangoon will lead to the formation of Singapore’s 16th and 17th freshwater reservoirs. Together with the Marina Reservoir, Singapore’s first reservoir in the city, the three new reservoirs will increase the catchment size from half to two-thirds of Singapore.
“Although we have successfully leveraged on technology to harness alternative water sources, water from local catchments remains an important part of our water supply strategy. Together with imported water, NEWater and desalinated water, these four sources of water or the Four National Taps ensure a robust and sustainable water supply for Singaporeans,” said Mr Tan Yok Gin, PUB’s Director of Policy and Planning.
The two new reservoirs will also undergo a transformation under the PUB’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) programme to make them a feature of Singapore’s landscape. Under the programme, Punggol Reservoir will be given a makeover to house the Sengkang Floating Island, the first-ever floating island built within a reservoir. A wetland created on this man-made island will bloom into a natural habitat for fishes and birds while a footbridge and floating boardwalk will connect the island to the mainland, where the new Sengkang Fruit Park and Anchorvale Community Club are located.
Work on the ABC Waters project at Sungei Punggol started in March 2008 and is expected to be completed in 2010. Meanwhile, over at Sungei Serangoon, a wetland will be built along the river to serve as a purification process for the water before it flows into the reservoir.
With the Marina Barrage in place, Singaporeans enjoyed their first ever sea parade in 2007 on a floating platform on the waters of Marina Reservoir.
A floating pontoon, a 27,000-strong crowd and festive bursts of fireworks mirrored on the water. These were some of the highlights of Singapore’s National Day Parade (NDP) 2007. Held for the first time at Marina Bay, NDP 2007 was a proud moment not just for Singaporeans, but also for PUB. After all, it took three years of planning and engineering before Singaporeans could enjoy its first sea parade on a floating platform on the waters of Marina Reservoir.
All these developments were made possible, thanks to the Marina Barrage. By keeping the seawater out, the water level in the Marina Reservoir could be kept constant and stable and this enabled the construction of a floating pontoon. Measuring 120m by 83m, it holds the distinction of being the largest floating stage in the world.
Said Mr Yap Kheng Guan, PUB’s Director of 3P Network: “With the largest and most urbanised water catchment, the Marina Reservoir will be fed by an extensive network of rivers and canals spanning from Ang Mo Kio to Rochor and from Queenstown to Geylang. Through the parade, we hope that Singaporeans can see how beautiful it is and be inspired to play their part in keeping it clean and pollution-free. It can then become an ideal venue for water sports and other lifestyle and recreational activities.”
National Day Parade 2007 was the first to be held on the waters of Marina Reservoir.
Adding to the special significance of Singapore’s first sea parade, PUB also created five attractive NEWater bottle label designs to complement the five segments of the parade: sea, earth, people, sky and fire. PUB’s mascot Water Wally appears in all the five designs — parachuting, fishing, dancing, admiring the colourful bursts of fireworks and leading an NDP contingent