Embracing Nature-Based Solutions in Singapore for Sustainable Water Resilience

Water, known for its ability to sustain life and ecosystems, has traditionally been seen as a beneficial force, supporting both human survival and natural environments. Yet, under certain circumstances, water can quickly become a foe, triggering catastrophic floods, causing extensive damage to infrastructure and widespread devastation.

By 2050, an estimated 20% of the world’s population will face flood risks, with up to 5.7 billion people living in water-scarce areas. Therefore, resilient water infrastructure projects are increasingly crucial for water security and urban development.

Integrating Green and Grey for Water Resilience

In today’s world, traditional "grey infrastructure" (engineered systems like dams, levees, and concrete channels) may not offer the climate resilience needed to address the demands of climate change. As climate change accelerates, extreme weather events become more unpredictable and intense.

Grey infrastructure primarily channels and contains water, neglecting holistic and sustainable management. Nature-based solutions are preferred for water resilience due to their sustainability and benefits. They use natural processes and ecosystems to manage water, offering alternatives to grey infrastructure. These solutions improve ecosystem health, biodiversity, and habitat conservation, providing additional benefits like carbon sequestration and recreational opportunities.

Relying solely on grey infrastructure overlooks the benefits of nature-based solutions, which offer a more adaptable approach to water management and sustainability. Integrating green and grey infrastructure offers a triple-win for the economy, communities, and environment.

CPG’s Holistic Water Management Solutions

CPG Consultants (CPG) has, over the years, been actively creating innovative solutions for holistic stormwater management. Having designed and constructed major drainage projects such as the Stamford Detention Tank (SDT) and Stamford Diversion Canal (SDC), which improved stormwater flow and reduced flood risk for Singapore’s Orchard Road area, the consultancy has gone on to provide flood mitigation solutions for more than 118 kilometres of waterways in Singapore.

 Flood mitigation projects by CPG cover approximately 118 kilometres of waterways.

In addressing water management through nature-based solutions, Singapore’s National Water Agency PUB has embarked on a journey to transform the nation into a City of Gardens and Water through its Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme. More than 100 potential projects across the island have been identified for implementation in phases by 2030 and more than 30 projects have been completed since the start of the programme.

PUB also encourages public agencies and the private sector to adopt ABC Waters design features (natural systems that detain and treat stormwater runoff on-site before allowing it to flow into waterways and reservoirs) in their developments to reap environmental benefits and achieve sustainable stormwater management.

CPG, experienced in holistic water management, has integrated ABC water design features into 18 sites, covering 40% of ABC Waters sites in Singapore. These include Kallang River (Bishan-Braddell), Jurong Lake Garden West, Bidadari Integrated Park, and NTU Residential Hall.

Nature-based solutions implemented in Singapore by CPG

CPG’s water management design solution integrates resistance to flooding, storage capacity for excess water, cleansing mechanisms to improve water quality, delays in release to prevent rapid runoff, and controlled release to manage water flow effectively. Nature-based elements are incorporated to specifically address various water management issues that unique sites face.

Spectrum of nature-based solutions as part of green and grey infrastructure integration

 

CPG’s Nature-based solutions

One of CPG's earliest projects under the ABC Waters Programme was the NTU Residential Hall, completed in 2016, which achieved ABC Water Certification . Nature-based solutions such as sedimentation ponds, wetlands and cleansing biotopes were used to prevent rainwater runoff and to prevent flooding.

Nature-based solutions implemented by CPG for the NTU Residential Hall project.

The Jurong Lake Garden West project, which achieved ABC Water Certification (Gold) in 2019, stands as another exemplary case of integrating ABC Water features. Approximately 12,000 metres of concrete drains were removed and transformed into naturalised streams, facilitating the conveyance of 100% of the catchment through nature-based measures.

Rasau Walk, Lakeside Gardens at Jurong Lake Gardens is a restored freshwater swamp forest that use of native species and bioengineering to protect the channel and create sustainable eco growth for the transitional tidal zone.

 

Nestled within the Bidadari housing estate, the Bidadari Integrated Park Development (winner of the HDB Design Award 2020) serves as a recreational green connection between estates. Comprising Parks North and South, these parks offer various shared facilities to foster community engagement. Here, CPG's design strategy focuses on creating floodplains capable of holding runoff while providing additional community gathering points to promote interaction with water. Steps, platforms, and boardwalks offer diverse experiences along the water's edge. Combined with aquatic plants' uptake, low-cost water circulation systems can contribute to improving water quality.

The Alkaff Lake in Bidadari started as a rough detention pond and has been enhanced to a landscaped detention pond with water cleansing features. The lake was designed by CPG to have a dual purpose – to function as a short-term storage for storm water run-off during heavy rain while also being used as a recreational space. The lake will be able to capture approximately 30,000 m3 of flood water, with 50% of the catchment conveyed through nature-based measures. The landscaped lake will be transformed with cascading wetlands, a stream, and an island in the middle of the lake with a majestic raintree that was retained.

Embracing Nature-Based Solutions for Water Management

As climate change brings about more extreme weather conditions and urbanisation continues to increase, we can contribute to decarbonisation efforts by reducing the reliance on energy-intensive grey infrastructure. To work towards achieving climate goals, we must master the science and practice of implementing solutions that aid decarbonisation efforts. CPG remains committed to implementing innovative solutions for water management, as we work together to transform Singapore into a city in nature and creating an environment where residents’ quality of life can be elevated through coexisting more harmoniously with natural elements.

 

Get in touch with our team: 

Dr. Chi Bui,  
Vice President and Technical Lead (Climate Resilience)
chi.bui@cpgcorp.com.sg

 


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