Thanks to its massive grass-topped roof, the new Keppel Marina East Desalination Plant (KMEDP) looks a lot like Marina Barrage, its larger and more famous neighbour a kilometre or so to the southwest. FAITH CHANDA tells us about this new environmentally-friendly creation that has also created the latest place to play in Singapore!
Design and features
Opened last month, the Marina East rooftop space is approximately the size of three football fields, and allows public access from 8am to 9pm daily. Bikers and runners will be happy to discover that the desalination plant’s grounds also act as a long-awaited natural connector between East Coast Park and Gardens by the Bay East. Kite-enthusiasts, however, should stick to Marina Barrage – the KMEDP is along the flight path of the Paya Lebar Airbase, so flying kites isn’t allowed.
The facility’s sleek, modern look seamlessly incorporates sustainable elements like rainwater harvesting ponds and stormwater management systems. These conserve and reuse the collected water onsite to irrigate greenery and supply the area’s water features.
The environmentally friendly design has earned the desalination plant the Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters Certification (Gold). An initiative of the Public Utilities Board (PUB), “ABC Waters” is a programme that encourages the public to enjoy recreation in and around Singapore’s water resources so that we can directly appreciate their value to the community.
The aim of endless water
Singapore has been planning for sustainable water sources from its very beginnings. According to the PUB, there are now more than 8,000km of canals and drains across the island. Laid end to end, that’s enough to reach well beyond Sydney, Australia! These help to channel floodwaters away when there’s too much rain, collecting in Singapore’s 17 catchment reservoirs for use when we need it. By 2060, PUB predicts water usage will rise to about double the current rates. So, it’s a good thing Singapore isn’t reliant on rainwater alone for its water resources. There’s also water imported from Johor, NEWater reclaimed water, and desalinated water from the ocean. (Together, these are known as the “Four National Taps”.) The goal is to have approximately 80 percent of Singapore’s water come from the combined resources of NEWater and desalination by 2030.
The KMEDP is the fourth of five desalination plants expected to start up by 2022. What’s remarkable about this Marina East facility is its flexibility. As a dual-mode plant, it can produce up to 137,000 cubic metres of drinkable water daily; it sources freshwater from Marina Reservoir or seawater off the East Coast as necessary.
Looking after a precious resource
As a small country with very few natural groundwater resources, Singapore needs to treat its water supply with care. Thankfully, the massive reservoir network means an ever-increasing majority of the island falls into a catchment area. Yet this also means we need to be cautious about what flows into our reservoirs – and that, in turn, means reducing potential water pollutants. So, construction sites must keep dirt and debris from washing away; corporations must dispose of waste chemicals properly; and we as individuals can do our part to keep waterways clear of litter. That way, Singapore’s water resources will be kept clean and safe, so they can be used and enjoyed for generations to come.
For more information about the Marina East plant, including the latest safe-distancing measures, visit kepinfra.com/kmedp. The green space accommodates 500 people, but the current maximum number of visitors is 100.
ABC Waters: pub.gov.sg/abcwaters/explore
Water-saving habits: pub.gov.sg/savewater/athome/watersavinghabits
This article first appeared in the October 2020 edition of Expat Living. You can purchase a copy or subscribe so you never miss an issue!
Read about more places to play for kids in our roundup of things to do in Singapore.