How do you provide a safe and efficient water supply system to more than 5 million people?

How about converting an estuary that meets the sea, into a fresh-water reservoir!

Singapore, with its dearth of natural resources, has always come up with innovative solutions to deal with pressure on its energy and water infrastructure; the Marina Barrage is a prime example of one such innovation.

The government decided to enhance Singapore’s overall water infrastructure by building what is, effectively, a dam across the mouth of a confluence of several rivers, thereby turning the existing estuary into a fresh-water reservoir. The design of the barrage is such that it allows for the collection of rainwater which can be fed into the mains supply. It can also act as a flood barrier, protecting the low-lying areas of the city. The barrage has nine crest gates which can be raised to allow flood waters, which can arise following heavy downpours, flow into the sea at low tide. If heavy rain coincides with high tide then giant pumps send the excess water out to sea.

On a recent visit to Singapore, I took a trip out to the Barrage, which also houses the Sustainable Singapore Gallery. If you find yourself in the area, it is well worth a visit and better still, it’s free. My advice – take a sandwich (unusually there is little on offer in terms of food here), plenty of water and sunscreen. Then after visiting the barrage and gallery, you can enjoy a picnic on the roof garden, which affords fabulous views of the ever-changing Singapore skyline. See Marina Barrage website for more details.