Marking a first in Singapore, the concrete canal in one of Singapore’s most popular parks will be converted into a natural meandering river under national water agency, PUB’s ABC Waters Programme.


The transformation of Singapore into a City of Gardens and Water is well underway under PUB’s Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters (ABC Waters) Programme. Reaching mid-point in the initial five-year phase, construction will soon commence for one of the programme’s flagship projects at Bishan Park.    


A joint collaboration between the national water agency and the National Parks Board (NParks), ABC Waters@Kallang River-Bishan Park will see the conversion of the concrete canal into a natural meandering river, seamlessly integrated with the park for the first time in Singapore. When completed in 2011, this will create more green and blue spaces in one of the most popular parks in Singapore, enhancing park users’ experience while still fulfilling its structural function.


Mr Tan Nguan Sen, PUB’s Director of Catchment and Waterways, said, “By seamlessly integrating Kallang River into Bishan Park, the waterway will be made more accessible to people. During dry weather, water flow will be confined to a narrow stream in the middle of the river, and park users will be able to walk along the water’s edge, bringing people closer to water.”


Mr Yeo Meng Tong, NParks' Director of Parks Development added, "Given the opportunity presented by the transformation of the canal beside Bishan Park into an accessible and landscaped waterway, NParks will introduce more community spaces and amenities including water-themed play, into the park for all to enjoy.  We will also ensure that the park retains spaces for quiet relaxation, as well as areas for popular group exercises."


The additional facilities in Bishan Park include a River Promenade, suitable for events, community gatherings and festive celebrations.  There will be three new playgrounds, each with a distinctive theme.  The Adventure Playground will have a range of climbing play facilities for active teenagers, and younger kids will be enticed by the Bubble Playground, a cosy corner with rubber mounds set in a sea of sand. Children who love getting wet will enjoy the Water Playground, where they can learn to appreciate and value water through interacting with it.


Bioengineering techniques in Bishan Park: A natural way to build


The use of soil bioengineering techniques – or the combination of plant material with traditional engineering –is an ideal solution that combines soil retention function with aesthetics and ecological considerations in the creation of a natural river with landscaped banks. This is the first time these techniques will be applied in urbanised Singapore, and a test bed was constructed earlier this year to test out the various techniques in the nation’s tropical climate (see appendix).


“As a strong new impulse for the future, an infrastructure that can be appreciated and accessed by citizens which at the same time respects the environment in a sustainable manner also brings about a subtle change in behaviour and thinking,” Mr Herbert Dreiseitl, Founder and Partner from Atelier Dreiseitl asia adds on. “And it is through this change that we can begin to create places which are vibrant, healthy and full of socio-cultural liveliness. Bishan Park has already the beginnings of this, and bringing the river and water element back to the people, will further enhance the place.”


“To integrate the redesigned Kallang River with the park, the interface between the two zones between park and river, urban and nature is carefully considered and designed in a manner to commensurate with the naturalistic character of the river,” said Mr Dreiseitl who worked out the park and river design with his team in collaboration with CH2M Hill Singapore Pte Ltd for the engineering. 


The new Bishan Park will also be home to diverse wildlife with habitats created to encourage certain species to settle and thrive.  For example, reed beds will promote dragonfly communities and seasonal nectar-producing flowers will entice butterflies so people will be able to observe rich biodiversity.


ABC Waters design features: A natural way to clean


Plants with natural cleansing properties to treat water, known as ABC Waters design features, have been carefully chosen and will be used at a cleansing biotope in the park as well. These features will beautify the surroundings as well as maintain the water quality of the ponds in the park and the river naturally without the use of chemicals. In addition, a portion of its water is recycled for use for shallow water play in the Water Playground.


As with all ABC Waters projects, a lot of thought went into planning the new park design. Workshops and consultations with various 3P (people, public, private) partners were held to ensure that the project is developed in a sustainable manner that enhances our living environment and enriches our quality of life. At the same time, we hope that everyone will play a part to keep the park and waters clean, especially since two-thirds of our island will soon become water catchment,” said Mr Tan.  


Introduced in 2006, the ABC Waters Programme aims to transform Singapore's reservoirs and waterways beyond their functional uses, into beautiful and clean streams, rivers and lakes, creating new community spaces for people to enjoy recreational activities. Projects have been completed at Kolam Ayer, Bedok Reservoir, MacRitchie Reservoir and Marina Barrage, making these areas vibrant hotspots for the community. In addition, nine projects have commenced at water bodies including Lower Seletar Reservoir, Jurong Lake and Alexandra Canal, with 8 more projects slated for commencement by 2010.


For more details, please refer to appendix or visit


Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will be marking the commencement of the project at Bishan Park at the Teck Ghee Lantern Night cum Commencement of ABC Waters@Kallang River-Bishan Park Ceremony held this Saturday, 3 Oct 2009 at Bishan Park II.


About PUB 

PUB is a statutory board under the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources. It is the water agency that manages Singapore’s water supply, water catchment and sewerage in an integrated way. PUB won the 2007 Stockholm Industry Water Award and was named Water Agency of the Year at the Global Water Awards 2006.


About PUB’s tagline: Water for All: Conserve, Value, Enjoy 

PUB has ensured a diversified and sustainable supply of water for Singapore with the Four National Taps (local catchment water, imported water, NEWater, desalinated water).


To provide water for all, PUB calls on all Singaporeans to play our part to conserve water, keep our water catchments and waterways clean and build a relationship with water so we can enjoy our water resources. We can then have enough water for all uses – for industry, for living, for life.



About National Parks Board (NParks)

National Parks Board (NParks) is responsible for providing and enhancing the greenery of the Garden City. Beyond green infrastructure, NParks is committed to enhancing the quality of life through creating memorable recreational experiences and lifestyles.


NParks manages 10% of Singapore's total land area which comprises over 50 major parks and 4 nature reserves. Adding to this is the extensive streetscape, or roadside greenery, that forms the backbone of our City in a Garden. An island-wide Park Connector Network is also being developed to link major parks and residential areas.


As Singapore’s scientific authority on nature conservation, NParks monitors and coordinates measures to ensure the health of Singapore’s biodiversity. This supports the overall thrust of our urban biodiversity conservation model, which aims to conserve representative eco-systems in land-scarce Singapore for future generations.


NParks is also the lead agency in the efforts to continually upgrade the Landscape Industry in Singapore. It works closely with industry partners to promote good work practices and create a thriving, innovative and professional industry that will support Singapore’s aspirations of being a City in a Garden.


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2 Oct 2009