SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB will study ways to protect Singapore’s north-west coast against rising sea levels, after the completion of coastal protection studies for City-East Coast and Jurong Island, it said on Thursday (Mar 4).
PUB also provided an update on these two studies, which were first announced last year. A Coastal Adaptation Study completed in 2019 identified the City-East Coast and Jurong Island coastlines to be more vulnerable and critical based on factors such as the potential impact of a flood event, criticality of assets such as airports and economic districts, and opportunities to dovetail with upcoming developments.
“In April last year, PUB was appointed the national coastal protection agency to safeguard Singapore’s coastline against the threat of rising sea levels, while managing inland flood risks. We will implement coastal protection measures in phases, beginning with the more vulnerable parts of our coastlines,” said Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu in her speech during her ministry’s committee of supply (COS) debate.
“This year, PUB and JTC will embark on site-specific studies at the coastlines of City-East Coast and Jurong Island. Potential measures to be examined include sea walls, polders and nature-based solutions like mangrove planting,” she said.
“In developing these plans, we will search for innovation in complementing our land use, sea space needs, and the natural environment.”
PUB is expected to award the tender for the City-East Coast study in the coming months, with the study expected to be completed in four years, it said.
Following City-East Coast and Jurong Island, studies to protect the north-west coast, comprising Sungei Kadut and Lim Chu Kang, are next in line.
These two areas include “key assets” such as Kranji Reservoir and Woodlands Checkpoint, while Sungei Kadut is also home to a number of industries such as timber, construction, and waste management, said PUB.
READ: NDR 2019: It could cost S$100 billion or more to protect Singapore against rising sea levels, PM Lee says
Speaking earlier during the joint-segment on sustainability at the COS debate, Ms Fu noted that the target is to complete the formulation of “adaptation pathways” at coastlines along City-East Coast, Lim Chu Kang, Sungei Kadut, and around Jurong Island by 2030.
“PUB, as the lead coastal protection agency, will work with other agencies to conduct site-specific studies, and develop coastal adaptation pathways and protection measures that are adaptive to climate uncertainties,” she added.
A coastal protection department has also been set up within PUB to address both coastal and inland flood risks holistically.
In an interview on Mediacorp Channel 5's News Tonight, Ms Fu stressed that Singapore's flat topography means that there is a need to find adaptive measures to guard against the threat of sea-level rise.
"We are a very flat country. We only have a little Bukit Timah Hill that is 100-over meters. So there's really nowhere to run," she said.
"And we have to prepare, while we do all those things that we said ... about mitigating carbon emissions, we need to find adaption measures, and we'll start with studying parts of the island."
Ms Fu noted that there needs to be a "very clear understanding" of how rising sea levels affect the different segments of Singapore's coastline.
"What we want to do is really to have a very clear understanding of how rising sea level(s) affects a specific area, and to plan for adaptation that's relevant to the area. We have divided the country in seven parts, and we have started with City-East coast ... Jurong island," she explained.
"The next one that we will be moving on to would be the northwestern (part) which is Sungei Kadut - each part of it, setting up the study, setting up the measurements, understanding how sea level rises affect the specific places, and work with stakeholders."
Last year, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat announced that a new Coastal and Flood Protection Fund, with an initial injection of S$5 billion, would be set up as Singapore prepares to deal with the “significant” risk of rising sea levels.
The fund will be topped up whenever Singapore’s fiscal situation allows for it, Mr Heng had said.
READ: Budget 2020: New S$5b Coastal and Flood Protection fund to tackle 'significant' risk of rising sea levels
NEW FLOOD MODEL
In addition to conducting studies along the coastlines, PUB will be developing a Coastal-Inland Flood Model to better equip the organisation for coastal protection planning and operations in the face of climate change.
The model will comprise a “suite of tools” that incorporates advancing climate science and data to enable “holistic and updated” flood risk assessment by analysing the combined effects of extreme sea levels and intense floods in Singapore caused by rainfall.
It will be capable of simulating flood events based on projected rainfall and coastal events, while evaluating the effectiveness of proposed coastal infrastructure under various climate scenarios, added PUB.
“Climate change has caused more intense rainfall, and more serious and frequent flooding … It is important to develop a comprehensive and coordinated understanding of Singapore’s level of flood resilience,” added Ms Fu.
“To holistically manage both inland and coastal flood risks, PUB will be developing the Coastal-Inland Flood Model this year. This computational model will simulate flood risk events and evaluate effectiveness of coastal infrastructure designs against different climatic scenarios. This will equip PUB with capabilities to plan and implement adaptation measures.”
A tender has been called for the development of the model, and it is expected to be awarded in the first half of this year, noted PUB.