betty August 1, 2022

SINGAPORE – A segment of the Siglap Canal could soon become more conducive to marine life, now that scientists from the National University of Singapore (NUS) will be installing special biodiversity tiles on its walls.

This is the first time national water agency PUB will be setting up these tiles in a canal as part of upgrading works to enhance the canal’s flood resilience to cater to a 60 per cent increase in rainfall intensity, said Mr Yeo Keng Soon, director of its Catchment and Waterways Department.

He added that as the canal leads to the sea, which supports marine life, there was an opportunity for PUB to support NUS’ Experimental Marine Ecology Lab in incorporating biodiversity tiles in the project design, while ensuring that the main function of the canal is not compromised.

As part of the trial, the lab will assess the effectiveness of the tiles, which mimic natural habitat features and can serve as homes for marine organisms, said Mr Yeo.

The 420m stretch from Marine Parade to East Coast Park Service Road, which is subject to tidal influence, will also be deepened and widened, he added.

Associate Professor Peter Todd from the lab said his team is focusing on the intertidal part of the canal where estuarine species, such as seagrass, crustaceans and fish, can be found.

“Some of these species benefit from the addition of habitat complexity, such as pits and grooves that provide damp, cool spaces and protection from predators,” he added.

One aspect of the tile design is that it is low-profile and rounded, so it does not affect the canal’s water flow, said Prof Todd.

The Straits Times understands that the project will commence next year and is scheduled for completion by 2026. Around 50 tiles will be installed.

Mr Yeo noted that such tiles have been rolled out at some sections of Singapore’s coastline, including Sentosa and Changi Bay.

“Designing with nature is also a key consideration for PUB when developing coastal protection solutions that can help to maintain or even enhance biodiversity,” he added.

Prof Todd previously told ST that the tiles can support between 20 and 25 species as compared with a traditional granite seawall, which has about 10 species. These organisms include algae, bivalves, marine snails and some crustaceans.

Mr Yeo said that, aside from the drainage upgrading works, PUB will also create multi-functional blue-green spaces around the Siglap Canal by building a wellness deck, shelters and a fitness corner to enhance users’ experience along the Siglap Park Connector Network.