Singapore rolls out 5-year plan to beautify waterways

Singapore will transform its thousands of kilometers (miles) of rivers, drainage canals and reservoirs into dual-purpose water parks, gardens and entertainment venues, the prime minister said Tuesday.

The island city-state will embark on a five-year plan to beautify its 7,000 kilometers (4,400 miles) of waterways with 20 initial projects. It is the latest in a series of efforts by Singapore to remodel itself and shed its dull image.

"Instead of seeing a concrete canal, you (see) ... landscaped banks, with kayakers paddling in the area, with play areas for children," Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in launching the beautification project. "Far fetched? No."

In one project involving a reservoir in western Singapore, the government will construct two islands in the middle for canoeists. The Public Utilities Board, or PUB, will also build an artificial waterfall and a children's rock pool in an adjoining canal.

Parks, viewing galleries and water stages will also be built along the waterways to attract families and water sports enthusiasts such as dragon boat racers, said the PUB, which manages the country's water supply.

Costs were not disclosed.

Most of the waterways are currently used to drain away storm water to prevent flooding or for storage, and recreational activities are usually banned.

Additional dams and filters will be installed when these water features are built to ensure the water is clean enough for consumption, the government said.

Fifteen tons of waste is removed daily from Singapore waterways, Lee said.

Resource-scarce Singapore, which relies on neighboring Malaysia for much of its water supply, intends to turn 90 percent of the main island into fresh water catchment areas to contribute toward its needs, reports AP.

About half of Singapore is currently used as catchment areas for rainwater collection.

In 2005, Lee, the son of Singapore's modern founder, Lee Kuan Yew, urged the country to take a cue from Las Vegas and reform to stay relevant.

It has recently embarked on major projects to transform its major shopping belt on Orchard Road and a downtown area close to one of its soon-to-be-built casinos, among others.

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