Date Published: 29 Sep 2006
Mr Chang Meng Teng, Chairman, Construction Industry Joint Committee
Mr Khoo Teng Chye, Chief Executive, PUB
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to join you this morning for the Second CIJC-PUB Seminar on Erosion and Sedimentation Control. Today’s large gathering of representatives from the construction industry includes developers, academicians, and building contractors. This is a clear signal that the construction industry is aware of the important role it plays in ensuring effective erosion and sedimentation control to keep our waters pristine. We are heartened by this as the joint participation and commitment of everyone is vital to ensure that Singapore’s precious water resources are kept clean and clear for our use and enjoyment.
Controlling silty discharge from construction sites
2. Singapore is best known to many as a clean and green city. Whether we call ourselves a City in a Garden or a Garden City, it is an accolade that has taken many years to painstakingly build up. Even during the recent IMF/World bank meetings, not surprisingly, one of the most positive and common impressions foreign participants have of Singapore is that it is clean and green. However, many of us would know that the clean water in our rivers and canals can turn brown and dirty during or after a heavy downpour. The key contributing factors are polluted runoff or silty discharge washed down from sites where construction activities have stripped the surfaces of ground cover and vegetation. This can be easily prevented through the adoption of good earth control practices.
3. Unfortunately, many construction sites do not adopt such preventive measures. I am told that there have been about 200 offences so far this year, compared to 168 offences last year and 94 in 2004. In future, if the situation does not improve, we will have to consider heavier penalties especially on recalcitrant offenders. However, I am optimistic that with strong and concerted support from all relevant stakeholders in the industry, we can avoid such punitive measures.
4. Keeping our waterways clean and pollution-free is crucial as many of our waterways flow into our reservoirs which supply our drinking water. When the Marina Reservoir is completed by end 2007, an additional one-sixth of Singapore’s area, in and around the central business district, will become water catchment. When the Punggol and Serangoon reservoirs are completed by 2009, our total local water catchment area will be increased from the current half to two-thirds of Singapore. All these catchment areas and their watercourses, which are practically at our doorsteps, need to be protected for our own good.
Erosion and Sedimentation Control
5. PUB, as the national water agency, adopts a three-pronged approach in controlling erosion and sedimentation at construction sites to deal with the problem of dirty discharge. The three approaches are enforcement, training in erosion and sedimentation control, and leveraging on innovative technologies to curb soil erosion. To bring this one step further, I am pleased to announce that PUB has amended its Code of Practice on Surface Water Drainage to provide comprehensive guidelines on how the industry can apply more effective erosion and sedimentation control measures.
6. I am glad to note that our industry partners are also using their own initiatives to cut down on silty discharges. The Construction Industry Joint Committee or CIJC, which comprises eight institutes and associations in the construction industry, helps promote best practices in erosion and sedimentation control at construction sites. In November 2004, CIJC joined forces with PUB to form a Task Force on Erosion & Silt Control. It has organised many workshops, seminars and courses at construction sites and these efforts have paid off. I understand that to-date, about 20% of all major construction sites in Singapore have adopted treatment technologies to curb silty discharges from construction sites instead of using the more traditional methods of silt control, which are less effective.
7. Let me take this opportunity to highlight a few other outstanding industry efforts in erosion and sedimentation control. The Association of Consulting Engineers Singapore (ACES), together with the Institute of Engineers Singapore (IES) have jointly developed a specialized professional course in erosion and sedimentation control to certify professional engineers as Qualified Erosion Control Professionals or QECPs. I am pleased to note that 54 QECPs will be receiving their certificates today and another 31 Professional Engineers currently undergoing the QECP course would be certified by the end of this year.
8. The Singapore Contractors Association (SCAL) has also been supporting efforts to promote erosion and sedimentation control at construction sites by producing a guide book on this topic together with PUB. This book will be distributed to all members of the construction industry. It highlights the basic measures that contractors should take to prevent or minimise water pollution by the wash down of silt and debris from construction sites into the waterways.
9. I have also been told that product and technology suppliers in erosion and sedimentation control have banded together to form a Protem Committee to look into the formation of the Singapore Erosion Control Association (SECA). Such an initiative from the industry is indeed very encouraging and I look forward to hearing more from this committee in the near future.
Friends of Water
10. Finally, I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge four companies that have strongly supported and participated in the implementation of effective erosion and sedimentation control and thus contributed towards our goal of sustaining Singapore’s water supply. On behalf of PUB, let me welcome The Institute of Engineers Singapore, The Singapore Contractors Association Ltd, Tiong Seng Contractors and City Developments Limited, as our new “Friends” of water!
11. In closing, let me say that I am confident that with the strong commitment of all stakeholders in the construction industry, dirty or silty waterways could indeed be a thing of the past, and we can look forward to having an even more pleasant environment to live, work and play in. On this note, I would like to wish you all a very successful and fruitful seminar.
12. Thank you.