The Straits Times: ABC of water project? It pays big dividends

Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Dr Vivian Balakrishnan recently launched the second phase of the Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters programme at MacRitchie Reservoir. Here, he comments that Singapore’s water conservation efforts pays off well. Reported by The Straits Times.

ABC of water project? It pays big dividends

The money the Government has poured into water resources is a good investment that will pay dividends in the years to come, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said on Tuesday.

He was speaking at the annual Watermark Award ceremony and the opening of the second phase of the Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters programme at MacRitchie Reservoir.

But Dr Balakrishnan – who took on the portfolio after the May general election – said he initially wondered why so much money was spent on water resources.

‘I must admit that when I first came to the ministry, I was wondering why (national water agency) PUB was devoting so much value, so many resources to the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme,’ he said. ‘Because ultimately, what I saw was, they were creating a park using the water resources.’

However, he found that the end result was to get people to come together.

‘I realised that it goes far beyond just a cosmetic or aesthetic aspect,’ said Dr Balakrishnan, who was formerly the minister for community development, youth and sports. ‘But many people must really understand the critical role that our water resources play in Singapore.’

He added that the ABC programme was about bringing people to the water, ‘or in this case, walking on water’.

He was referring to the new 40m-long submerged boardwalk at MacRitchie Reservoir, which will allow visitors to walk through ankle-deep water and view water plants and other aquatic life.

The boardwalk was officially unveiled yesterday, along with other facilities such as a space for a hilltop restaurant – which could be open by early next year – and improvements to the iconic zigzag bridge and bandstand.

Improvements have also been made to the tomb of Lim Bo Seng, with new information panels about the World WarII resistance hero.

Speaking to about 150 people at the event, Dr Balakrishnan added that working on beautifying water features here also has a functional purpose – to keep water clean and ensure it is of good quality.

Some projects under the ABC Waters programme, introduced in 2007, include the $34 million makeover of Alexandra Canal, $47.7 million for the Lorong Halus Wetland area, and $6.95 million on Pandan Reservoir.

Under this scheme, utilitarian drains, canals and reservoirs are turned into beautiful and clean streams and lakes.

MacRitchie Reservoir is the 16th water project to be completed under the ABC programme.

Dr Balakrishnan said: ‘I’ve come to the conclusion that this is indeed money well-spent, an investment that will bear much fruit in the years to come.’

Image taken from Hamad M

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