Bukit Timah diversion canal to be expanded

Published on Sep 21, 2012

By Feng Zengkun

EFFORTS to curb flash floods in upper Bukit Timah will be bolstered with the expansion of a canal in the area by 2016.

National water agency PUB said yesterday that it plans to widen and deepen the Bukit Timah first diversion canal which will allow the upper stretch of the catchment zone to take in 30 per cent more rainwater.

This should reduce the risk of flash floods in the area like those in recent years, said PUB's director of catchment and waterways Tan Nguan Sen in a briefing at the Environment Building in Newton.

The 3.2km diversion canal - completed in 1972 - runs from Bukit Timah Road near Sixth Avenue to Clementi Road.

Built to alleviate frequent floods in Bukit Timah in the 1960s, the $7 million diversion canal re-routes stormwater from the Bukit Timah Canal into Sungei Ulu Pandan near Clementi.

But more intense rainfall in recent years has sometimes overwhelmed the area's ability to cope with storms. In 2009 and 2010, heavy rain flooded the basements of buildings in the area.

The expansion project is part of PUB's five-year, $750 million plan to reduce flash floods across Singapore. Announced earlier this year, the plan includes enlarging five other major canals in neighbourhoods such as Geylang and Bedok.

Work to expand the Bukit Timah diversion canal will start next month and will be carried out in three phases.

The first phase will involve the expansion of an underground drain beneath Ulu Pandan Road. It will cost $33.7 million and be completed by 2015.

Contracts for the two other phases have not been awarded.

Mr Tan said measures will be taken to minimise disruption to the public, including setting up noise barriers and closed-circuit television cameras to track traffic conditions during construction.

Low-vibration machines will be used and nearby structures will be monitored.

While the anti-flooding initiative is welcomed, residents are also wary of the impact of the construction. For the first phase, roads will be diverted and two bus stops and an overhead bridge will be moved 80m farther away temporarily.

"Even without construction, there have been traffic jams on the road, especially when it rains," said student Chia Shuhui, 24, who lives in the Pine Grove condominium next to Ulu Pandan Road. "It will be annoying for a while but if it makes the area more flood-proof, then it will be worth it," she added.

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