HDB bags engineering award for innovative ideas behind Punggol Waterway

The 4.2km, longest man-made waterway in Singapore in Punggol Waterway.
The 4.2km, longest man-made waterway in Singapore in Punggol Waterway. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

SINGAPORE - The greening of Punggol Waterway has helped the Housing and Development Board (HDB) bag an award from the Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES).

The team of HDB engineers responsible for enhancing the 4.2km long waterway - the longest man-made waterway in Singapore - were recognised for their innovative ways to create a better living environment for residents.

The engineers, from HDB's Building and Research Institute (BRI), had cultivated freshwater-tolerant mangroves and designed a scalable, modular platform for floating wetlands. Their efforts have enhanced the waterway's water quality, biodiversity and recreational value.

The team received the Prestigious Engineering Achievement Award on July 23 from Acting Minister for Education (Schools) Ng Chee Meng.

Twelve other teams, from government agencies, research institutions and private firms, were also presented with the annual award.

The HDB-built Punggol Waterway, which links the Serangoon and Punggol Reservoirs, winds through existing and upcoming high-rise public housing. It is occasionally used for organised water activities such as kayaking.

HDB said it has planted 6,000 sq m of 35 plant species on the banks of the waterway, including endangered saltwater mangroves that were found to thrive under freshwater conditions. The mangrove roots also help to bind the soil and stabilise the slopes at the riverbanks.

HDB chief executive Cheong Koon Hean said: "I am very proud of our engineers, who are always pursuing new solutions to better the lives of Singaporeans.

"Moving ahead, we are studying how we can further tap on the potential of the floating system, such as using it to harvest solar energy in Singapore."

Last year, the waterway was recognised by the IES as one of Singapore's top 50 engineering achievements.

On HDB's latest achievement, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said that although engineering is a critical part of HDB's work, it is not all about hardware and buildings.

"Through innovation, HDB also enhances the flora and fauna around our neighbourhoods and the overall quality of living in HDB estates," Mr Wong wrote on the blog Housing Matters.

"The mangroves and floating wetlands have made Punggol Waterway a green and peaceful oasis for residents."

A variety of wildlife has since made the mangroves and floating wetlands their home, including 92 species of birds, 11 species of butterflies and 17 species of dragonflies, Mr Wong noted.

He added that HDB will extend its green innovations to other new estates, such as in Bidadari and Tampines North.