Friday 17 August 2012

Punggol waterway wins global award

By David Ee, The Straits Times, 16 Aug 2012

INSTEAD of taking the simple solution of a pipe to connect Punggol and Serangoon reservoirs, Housing Development Board (HDB) planners carved out an entire river, giving Punggol residents a lush riverine upgrade. And the accolades continue to flow in.

My Waterway@Punggol has clinched the top honour at the International Water Association's (IWA) biennial Project Innovation Awards, the first Asian project ever to do so.

The project was also honoured in April by the American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE), another first for Asia.

The 4.2km man-made river, which opened last October, meanders through Punggol Eco-Town.

Planners took an ecological approach, determined to minimise environmental impact. Excavated earth was reused, boardwalks were built with recycled materials and special gravel drains were installed to filter and clean surface water before it enters the river.

Dr Gertjan Medema, chief science officer at the KWR Watercycle Research Institute in The Netherlands, was a judge. He praised the project for encompassing practical and human considerations, and commended the HDB for "taking a step back and looking at the whole picture of what they were trying to achieve".

"Nobody would have appreciated a pipe underground," he said.

Mr Paul Reiter, executive director of the IWA, said that inventive thinking was a treat to behold.

"It is sensible. It is just thinking," he said. "The No. 1 ingredient is having a picture of what is possible."

HDB's deputy chief executive officer for building, Mr Sng Cheng Keh, affirmed the board's commitment to sustainably building "rich, vibrant and unique" towns.

It plans to make existing towns more environmentally friendly, starting with a pilot project in Jurong East to introduce water- and energy-saving facilities. The nationwide programme, termed Greenprint, was announced in March.

"Under Greenprint, HDB will introduce the concept of green and sustainable lifestyles to other towns beyond Punggol," said Mr Sng.

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