Saturday's flash floods a sign of climate change

Planning ahead and mitigation are key, says Grace Fu, citing PUB drainage projects

The flash floods that took place last Saturday after heavy rain show the impact of climate change and the importance of planning ahead, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu said yesterday.

"We are getting a lot more intense rainfall - one of the highest in the last 40 years - and we're seeing such intense rainfall more frequently," she told reporters during a visit to one of the sites for the second phase of construction for the Deep Tunnel Sewerage System.

"It shows us the importance of planning for climate change and also mitigation," she added.

National water agency PUB, under her ministry's purview, has already spent $2 billion on drainage systems and improvement works over the past decade to reduce flooding, she said.

Another close to $1.4 billion will be spent on such projects in the next five years, she added.

There are 37 such drainage projects ongoing, with another 10 to commence this year, said Ms Fu.

The latter include drainage works in Seletar North Link and Serangoon Avenue 2 and 3.

"This shows our determination to improve our water infrastructure, increasing our climate resilience and also making us better and more resilient in a changing world," Ms Fu said.

Last Saturday, flash floods were reported across Singapore, with a number of pavements flooded in the western and central areas.

Photographs and videos showing flooded roads and canals in Queenstown, Bukit Timah and Ulu Pandan circulated on social media.

The prolonged heavy rain over Singapore that day caused water levels in several drains and canals to exceed 90 per cent of their capacity.

Asked why flash floods still occur despite the earlier investments made in drainage works, Ms Fu pointed to the changing weather patterns driven by global heating.

"We have already been witnessing pattern changes, and we expect to see even wetter and drier patterns, going forward - these are the effects of climate change," she said.

PUB said in a Facebook post last Saturday that the heaviest rainfall of 161.4mm was recorded in western Singapore from 12.25pm to 3.25pm.

That amount of rain is equivalent to 91 per cent of Singapore's average monthly rainfall in April, and lies within the top 0.5 per cent of maximum daily rainfall records since 1981, the agency added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 20, 2021, with the headline 'Saturday's flash floods a sign of climate change'. Subscribe