PUB to begin coastal protection study for Singapore’s City-East Coast

The National Water Agency of Singapore, PUB, has announced that it will commence a site-specific study along the country’s City-East Coast, looking into possible solutions to protect it from the threat of rising seas caused by climate change.

This is the first of a series of planned studies for different parts of Singapore’s coastline to be progressively carried out over the next few years, and are a key plank in long-term coastal protection plans for the country.

The study covers 57.8 km of the coastline, across three areas – Changi, the East Coast-Marina stretch and part of the Greater Southern Waterfront district. This section of the coastline had been identified to be more vulnerable and critical based on factors such as the potential impact of a flood event, criticality of assets (e.g. airports, economic and industrial districts) and opportunities to dovetail with upcoming developments.

The study is expected to take around four years to complete, and will include work such as literature review to glean international best practices, collecting site data to support design works, formulating adaptation measures and pathways and developing the designs of solutions to mitigate flood risks.

Hazel Khoo, director of coastal protection department at PUB said, “When PUB was appointed national coastal protection agency in April 2020, this study was earmarked as a significant milestone in our mission to prepare Singapore for the impacts of sea-level rise. But this is just the beginning – the real challenge is to develop solutions that are flexible and adaptive to climate change uncertainties, to safeguard our island and people from flooding risks while ensuring our coastlines remain liveable.

“This is also an opportunity for us to explore a combination of both engineering and nature-based solutions with innovative designs to better integrate with local development and land-use plans. This will allow us to potentially enhance the living environment and create new recreational spaces with multi-functional uses for the community like what was done at Marina Reservoir.”

A phased approach

Having divided Singapore's coastline into different segments, PUB will adopt a phased approach to progressively roll out studies and develop protection measures for the respective segments of the coastline. Studies to protect Jurong Island and the North-West coast, comprising Sungei Kadut and Lim Chu Kang, will commence later this year and in 2022 respectively.

The City-East Coast study will be undertaken by CPG Consultants Pte Ltd, a subsidiary of Singapore-based consultancy services, infrastructure and building management firm CPG Corporation. CPG was appointed following an open tender exercise in 2020.

“CPG possesses extensive knowledge in drainage design and master planning, and successfully executed projects such as the development of drainage masterplans with flood mitigation measures for a number of waterways in Singapore, and engineering consultancy services for the Stamford Diversion Canal, which – in tandem with the Stamford Detention Tank – enhances flood protection in the Orchard Road area,” explained PUB.

To augment its knowledge and capabilities in coastal protection and computer modelling, CPG will be partnering with Royal HaskoningDHV, a consultancy firm headquartered in the Netherlands that specialises in coastal engineering, as well as water management solutions provider Hydroinformatics Institute (H2i).

Building local expertise, engaging with stakeholders

To enhance PUB’s knowledge and expertise in coastal engineering, the agency has formed a coastal protection expert panel, comprising both local and international experts in the relevant fields. The panel will share international best practices and planning considerations, and will provide advice that will allow PUB to build new capabilities and aid in its overall planning efforts.

The panel is chaired by Professor Chan Eng Soon, CEO of Technology Centre for Offshore and Marine, Singapore (TCOMS). Panel members include coastal engineering experts such as Professor Marcel Stive, a Dutch engineer internationally recognised for his work in coastal solutions; Professor Robert Nicholls from the UK, an expert in climate change and sea-level rise who was involved in the Building and Construction Authority’s (BCA) Coastal Adaptation Study (2013-2019); and Professor Robert Dalrymple from the US, who specialises in coastal processes. Professor David Balmforth, who is based in the UK and an expert on urban flood risk assessment, rounds out the five-member panel.

“I am glad to have the opportunity to work with a team of eminent colleagues in this field – especially in guiding PUB as it embarks on the monumental task of protecting Singapore from flooding due to intense rainfall and rising sea levels. Our aim is to function as an independent advisory body to PUB’s coastal protection efforts,” said Prof Chan.

Coastal protection is a complex and long-term undertaking. Besides consulting experts, PUB also intends to adopt a collaborative approach as it develops the strategies and solutions to protect Singapore's coastlines. The agency will work closely with the community and relevant stakeholders, including nature groups and businesses, to seek their feedback on the proposed coastal protection measures and explore opportunities to create a vibrant living environment in harmony with nature.

Image: PUB