On researching a few facts about the engineering marvel that is the Marina Barrage, I learned that the Singapore International Water Week was recently held, attracting 10,000 attendees from over 85 countries/regions. From my own country, Tom Mollenkopf from the Australian Water Association presented on Meeting Australia’s Water Infrastructure Needs and Ross Young from the Water Services Association of Australia presented on Current Water Challenges, Drivers for Reform and Up and Coming Infrastructure Projects.
Mainly focussing on desalination projects around Australia, Young concluded his presentation by stating that the impacts of climate change are driving unprecedented capital expenditure programs and that despite the challenges the Australian urban water industry is in good shape to address them. One such project is the highly contentious Wonthaggi desalination plant which is something I’ve taken a bit of an interest in due to its proximity to home. I think it is quite clear that if it rained more, there would be no argument.
Unlike southern Australia, it actually rains in Singapore. And oddly enough, they too face the same challenges in meeting the needs of their people in securing potable water. Given the size of the country (~710 sq. km and expanding due to land reclamation) they have had to become creative in building reservoirs.
Built across the mouth of the Marina Channel, the Marina Barrage creates Singapore’s 15th reservoir, and the first in the heart of the city. With a catchment area of 10,000 hectares, or one-sixth the size of Singapore, the Marina catchment is the island’s largest and most urbanised catchment. Together with two other new reservoirs, the Marina Reservoir will increase Singapore’s water catchment from half to two-third’s of the country’s land area. Source
With 405 solar panels supplementing the daytime power requirements of the Marina Barrage facility, the Sustainable Singapore Gallery housed within is an excellent means by which to educate the visiting public on the significant environmental and water issues the world is currently facing. There is also an interesting scale model of the barrage which simulates rain, tides and the synchronisation of the crest gates with the drainage pumps.
Acting secondly as a tidal barrier to alleviate flooding in the city, if it rains heavily during low tide, the crest gates of the Marina Barrage will be lowered to release excess water from the reservoir into the sea. If, however, it rains heavily during high tide, then the crest gates will remain closed and the giant drainage pumps will be activated to move excess water into the sea.