Best of our wild blogs: 31 Oct 13

Butterflies Galore! : Peacock Royal
from Butterflies of Singapore

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'Need for trust' to solve green challenge

Yeo Sam Jo Straits Times 31 Oct 13;

THERE is a need for trust between the people and the Government in order to solve Singapore's environmental challenges, Environment Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said yesterday.

Speaking at the National University of Singapore U@live Forum, a monthly discussion featuring alumni speakers, he highlighted the three challenges which he felt lie ahead.

He listed pandemics such as Sars (the severe acute respiratory syndrome of 10 years ago), transboundary effects like this year's haze, and the warming climate and its adverse effects on food, water and energy.

He cautioned that these problems might be mere preludes of worse to come.

"There has to be a balance between commanding a sense of urgency and yet not have people panic," he said, stressing the importance of trust.

"The combination of being completely open, having a proven track record, and the sense that we are all in it together - we all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and go to the same hawker centres - will reaffirm the people's trust with the Government."

He highlighted how younger Singaporeans seem to be getting "greener" and more passionate about long-term sustainability. "There is an opportunity to show the rest of the world a working model of a sustainable future."

Held at the NUS Shaw Foundation Alumni House, the forum was attended by some 200 students, staff and alumni.

‘More frequent intense storms a warning of worse to come’
Neo Chai Chin Today Online 31 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — The focus in recent days may have been on heavy downpours and flash floods, but Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan yesterday cast the issue as a longer-term challenge facing the country, saying that the rising frequency of intense storms is a warning sign of worse to come, as sea levels rise due to global warming.

Climate systems that are more brittle could magnify issues of food, water and energy security, he said at a National University of Singapore (NUS) forum last night, citing it as one of his potential nightmares.

Responding to a question from the audience on whether flood-control expenses would shift the focus away from clean water for home and industry use, Dr Balakrishnan said the Government’s investment to improve Singapore’s drainage system is to prepare Singapore for future floods. He noted that a quarter of Singapore’s land is reclaimed and 1.25m above sea level.

In the future, “we’ll be challenged at a far greater level than we are today”, Dr Balakrishnan said. “So that’s how I justify to my colleagues in Cabinet why I need the budget and the approval to proceed to do these drainage projects.”

Dr Balakrishnan’s comments came as several parts of Singapore were hit by flash floods yesterday afternoon. On Monday, the authorities had warned that “slightly above-average rainfall and rainy days” during the north-east monsoon, which is expected to last from the middle of next month till March, could result in flash floods in parts of the island.

At the forum, which was attended by 200 staff, students and alumni, Dr Balakrishnan outlined three major threats to Singapore’s environment. Besides global warming, a major pandemic, such as SARS and transboundary environmental issues like the haze were identified as challenges facing the country.

Asked by participants if a law could be enacted to mandate environmental-impact assessments be done before development, Dr Balakrishnan said this has to be considered carefully.

While an impact assessment will be done before the Government decides whether the future Cross Island MRT line will run below the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, he said: “Personally, I’m opposed to it running through our nature reserve.”

On whether economic indicators would trump environmental issues, the minister said the Government has “never viewed it as the economy versus the environment” and believes clear skies and clean water and streets are good for business.

Asked by a student about the petrochemical industry, which contributes significantly to Singapore’s carbon emissions, he said the authorities take a long-term view and do a “holistic assessment” of what is in the interest of Singaporeans and the country’s role in the global value chain.

The petrochemical industry provides jobs for locals and, as a major refining centre, Singapore can be part of the solution in shaping a less pollutive industry, Dr Balakrishnan said.

Two students asked if Singapore could take part in a “payment for ecosystems services model” where it paid its neighbours not to degrade forests. Dr Balakrishnan said that while the model is philosophically sound, practical challenges exist — such as the potential of being asked to pay ever-elevating amounts.

He also cautioned against the notion that Singapore is wealthy enough to hand out funds “indefinitely”.

“Yes we’ve been successful. Yes, we’ve the responsibility to be a good citizen of the world … But never get this inflated idea that we are rich and that we can change the world unilaterally.

“I’m afraid we are not in that position,” he said.

Singapore faces 3 major threats to its environment
Channel NewsAsia 30 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: Singapore faces three major threats to its environment, given the current global trends.

Speaking at a forum on Wednesday evening at the National University of Singapore, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the likely threats are another major pandemic, transboundary contamination and global warming.

Dr Balakrishnan said that there are already signs that global warming is affecting Singapore, with rising sea levels and unpredictable weather conditions being experienced.

He said this could lead to more droughts and other weather phenomena around the world, which in turn would affect the supply of food, water and energy in Singapore.

"When climate systems become more brittle (in agricultural countries), food is going to be an issue. Therefore the price of food, the availability of food and food security are going to be issues," said Dr Balakrishnan.

He also said that Singapore could soon see a revolution in transport soon.

Dr Balakrishnan said the current situation on the roads was not efficient and he believes that robotic transportation could be the answer, with driverless cars a possible option in the future for both public and private transportation.

- CNA/fa

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Real root of monkey problem

Strait Times 31 Oct 13;

ANIMAL Concerns Research and Education Society campaign executive See Han Sern is mistaken that I suggested culling monkeys because they are aggressive ("Culling doesn't tackle root of monkey problem"; last Friday).

I suggested culling because monkeys have invaded our living space and deprived us of the comforts of home.

Mr See also said monkey problems arise because food is readily available in human areas.

Food will always be readily available in human communities, so how does he expect us to keep food out of sight and reach of monkeys?

The real root of the problem is that monkeys do not have predators in their natural habitat to keep their numbers down.

As their population surges, they are forced to forage for food in human communities. The situation is aggravated by animal lovers giving food to them.

It is unrealistic to suggest that humans try to coexist with wild monkeys in our living space.

Without culling, the wild monkey population will surge such that we see monkeys all over the place.

As they can be aggressive, how are we to go about our lives in peace without the risk of being attacked?

Contrary to what Mr See would like us to believe, the culling of wild animals whose populations have grown to menacing proportions is an accepted practice in Australia, Europe, the United States and many other countries.

Culling does not mean killing the entire monkey population; it simply means keeping their numbers down to an acceptable level, so they will have enough food in their natural habitat and not have to invade our living space for it.

It will be more cruel to allow their numbers to multiply without control.

I support not culling wild monkeys if Mr See can produce a foolproof way to keep them in their natural habitat. So far, his proposals do not fulfil this condition.

Han Cheng Fong

Impose heavier fines on feeders
Straits Times Forum 31 Oct 13;

I VISIT MacRitchie Reservoir every Saturday morning for long runs with my team. Over the course of four years, I have observed that the monkeys there have become more aggressive ("Do more to curb monkey population" by Mr Han Cheng Fong, Oct 23; and "Culling doesn't tackle root of monkey problem" by the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society, last Friday).

It is common to see monkeys hanging around the cafe, compromising the safety of diners, especially young children. When the animals snatch food off the tables, the cafe staff would use spray hoses to chase them off.

My team usually eats fruits after training and monkeys have tried to attack us to obtain them.

Once, I saw a monkey in the amenities centre rummaging through a bag for food. It was tearing plastic bags and biting shampoo bottles, leaving the owner's belongings strewn all over the floor.

The monkeys have lost their fear of people and have come to expect food. They think plastic bags contain food and will not hesitate to snatch them from people.

In September last year, a woman needed 13 stitches after a monkey attacked her at MacRitchie Reservoir Park.

There is substantial evidence that the monkeys at MacRitchie Reservoir have crossed the line of safety.

Some people have called for the animals to be culled, but that is a short-term solution. Animal lovers who feed them are the prime reason why they approach humans.

Heavier fines could be imposed on those who feed monkeys. The authorities may also consider strengthening enforcement by roping in security companies to nab offenders.

Wong Shiying (Miss)

Tough to coexist with monkeys
Straits Times 31 Oct 13;

THE Animal Concerns Research and Education Society ("Culling doesn't tackle root of monkey problem"; last Friday) fails to appreciate the problem Mr Han Cheng Fong and his family face every day ("Do more to curb monkey population"; Oct 23).

To suggest that coexistence is the key to resolving the human-monkey conflict is unhelpful to the Han family and their neighbours.

Families should not have to lock themselves in their homes whenever there are monkeys around. It is hard to imagine how they could hold a birthday party or a barbecue in their garden without attracting unwanted attention from the monkeys. Babies left unattended could also be in danger.

Moving out may not even be an option as families may be reluctant to buy properties in monkey-infested areas.

Perhaps the Animal Concerns Research and Education Society can ascertain if humans have intruded into the natural habitat of monkeys, or if our forests have become too small to provide enough food for the monkeys, forcing them to invade our living space.

Fong Hang Yin (Ms)

Educate public on consequences of feeding monkeys
Straits Times Forum 31 Oct 13;

I AGREE with Mr Han Cheng Fong ("Do more to curb monkey population"; Oct 23) that the increase in the monkey population and their boldness over the years have become a serious concern.

I go to MacRitchie Reservoir weekly to train with my team and we consume fruits after training. We always keep a lookout for monkeys as they are not intimidated by the presence of humans.

This problem could have started because the public does not know that feeding the monkeys would increase their reliance on, and lessen their fear of, humans.

Planting more fruit trees in the forest would probably not help because the monkeys have already tasted our food.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) has put up notices around the reservoir reminding people not to feed the monkeys, but this is not enough.

The public needs to be educated, starting from students in school. Forest treks could be arranged for them to learn about the consequences of feeding monkeys.

I hope the NEA will come up with more initiatives to resolve this problem.

Valarie Lai Zi Qing (Ms)

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PUB working to prevent floods in low-lying areas in eastern Singapore

Leong Wai Kit Channel NewsAsia 30 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: The authorities are looking into ways to prevent flooding in low-lying areas in eastern Singapore.

On his Facebook page, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, who is also the Member of Parliament for Marine Parade GRC, said that he has asked national water agency PUB to look at areas such as Kembangan, Telok Kurau and Siglap.

His comments came as intense rain on Wednesday caused flooding in eastern Singapore, with reports of Chai Chee being the most affected.

PUB said it will bring forward drainage improvement works at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road from the last quarter of next year to mid-2014.

It added that it had installed a pump to transfer some of the water to the downstream drain across New Upper Changi Road. Another pump will be installed by this week.

In addition, the depressed section of Chai Chee Road will be raised and work will start in November.

At about 1pm on Wednesday, the junction of Chai Chee Road and New Upper Changi Road was flooded after a torrential downpour.

Faisal Suptu, a resident in Chai Chee, said: "There were two vehicles stalled and they had to be towed away. The police have to be called in just to direct the traffic."

"There are two contract workers to ensure that the drain covers are open to allow water to quickly flow and allow flood to subside. A few cars stalled and can't move from Chai Chee Road. The rain kept getting heavier, and soon the flood level rose," he added.

This was not the first time the area has been flooded. In April this year, the area was also hit by floods.

"When I was younger, flooding wasn't that often so it seems a novelty… but as an adult, when this happens, it just upsets your work schedule," said Faisal, who has been living in the area for 20 years.

On his Facebook post, Mr Tan said that flooding can get quite bad at the Chai Chee Road and New Upper Changi Road junction when there is intense rain.

He has talked to PUB and the Land Transport Authority to see what else can be done to deal with the issue.

Elsewhere, flood prevention measures have been put in place. At Liat Towers along Orchard Road, barriers have been set up, and over at Bukit Timah, shop owners rely on an informal network to help each other out.

The National Environment Agency said thundery showers in the afternoon are expected in the next three days.

- CNA/fa

Moves to cut flood risk in Chai Chee stepped up
Woo Sian Boon and Tiara Hamarian Today Online 31 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — Immediate measures are being taken to reduce the flood risk at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road, hit yesterday by the second flash flood in three days which brought traffic to a standstill for about 20 minutes.

National water agency PUB said a pump to move some water to the downstream drain across New Upper Changi Road had been installed as an immediate measure to reduce flood risk, while another pump would be installed by the end of this week. Work will also start next month to raise the depressed section of Chai Chee Road.

The PUB added that drainage-improvement work it had earlier scheduled for the junction would be carried out in the middle of next year, instead of commencing at the end of 2014.

The heavy downpour yesterday also prompted a nearby school to warn parents about their children’s safety. Mdm Fatimah Beevi, whose son is a Primary 6 pupil at Opera Estate Primary School, yesterday received a text message from the school stating that it would dismiss pupils only after the rain had subsided. The school also allowed parents who were not driving to wait inside the compound for their children.

“It is the first time I have received such a message from the school regarding the heavy rain. Other times, (they are) just reminders about school holidays or extra activities,” she said.

Hawkers and stallholders at Marine Parade Market and Food Centre had to contend with ankle-high water flowing out of covered drains during the worst of the downpour yesterday — something that happens during heavy rain.

Said noodle-seller GY Liu, 50: “In the seven months since I’ve moved here, it has flooded three times, which has affected business badly. Customers, such as office ladies, won’t want to step in and get their shoes ruined.”

Customers at another coffee shop around the corner were also stuck for about two hours when the floods flowed into the premises. Said Mr Steven Ong, 51, who sells fish soup: “For about two hours, we had no customers.”

Shopkeepers in the nearby Changi Road area are bracing themselves for the coming north-east monsoon, which the authorities have warned will bring more intense and heavier rainfall this year. Since the area was hit badly by floods in 2010, business owners have taken various measures to prevent their goods from getting soaked, such as placing items on raised shelves or wooden pallets. Others have placed acrylic boards near doors to slow down the flow of flood water.

Said carpet-shop owner Kazem Fadakar, 49: “From now till February is the most dangerous time. I’ve been having sleepless nights worrying (about my shop). When it rained heavily the other night, I even took a taxi down just to make sure it’s not flooded, but what can I do? The waters rise so quickly, I only have five minutes to move everything, which is not possible because my carpets are so heavy.”

There was also concern that business would be affected if flooding continues. Said Operations Manager Doreen Tay of Bagus La Mian and Yong Tau Fu: “If the situation gets worse and it floods, we’ll have to close because we have a responsibility (to) our workers and customers — it can be dangerous if they slip and fall.”

PUB lays out plans to reduce flood risk at New Upper Changi Road
Today Online 30 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — More immediate measures are being taken to reduce the flood risk at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road, which was hit by a flash flood earlier today (Oct 30) – the second in three days.

PUB said another pump will be installed in the area by this week to transfer water to the downstream drain across New Upper Changi Road. There is already one pump there. The depressed section of Chai Chee Road will also be raised and work will start next month.

PUB said it had earlier scheduled drainage improvement works at this junction in the fourth quarter of next year. This has been brought forward to the middle of next year.

Heavy showers had resulted in a few flash floods in eastern Singapore this afternoon, with Bedok and Chai Chee the most affected.

The junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road was not passable to traffic at about 1pm. Flood waters subsided within 20 minutes, said PUB.

Writing in a Facebook post, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin said he is in discussions with PUB and the Land Transport Authority to “see what else can be done to deal with the flood issue” at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road.

“It’s quite bad when there is intense rain,” said the Marine Parade GRC Member of Parliament, adding that he will “try and address this issues or to at least ameliorate the effects”.

“I have asked PUB to widen and deepen drains in some stretches of Kembangan estate so that there will be a larger ‘receptacle’ in those areas that are low-lying. This is ongoing,” added Mr Tan.

“Works will be done in the Telok Kurau area as part of the improvement to the Siglap Canal drainage, but this will take some time,” he also wrote.

Flash floods hit two eastern areas again
Audrey Tan And Bryna Singh Straits Times 31 Oct 13;

FLASH floods hit two areas in eastern Singapore for the second time this week, owing to the heavy rainfall yesterday afternoon.

The same junction between Chai Chee and New Upper Changi roads, as well as Marine Parade Market and Food Centre a 10-minute drive away, were under water, as they were on Monday afternoon.

Traffic and businesses in both locations were affected, with water levels at the Chai Chee junction swelling to a point where "traffic (was) not passable", said national water agency PUB on Twitter. PUB said flooding started at about 12.54pm, and subsided after 20 minutes.

Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, an MP for Marine Parade GRC, said on Facebook that talks are ongoing with PUB and the Land Transport Authority "to deal with the flooding issue". He added: "It's quite bad when there is intense rain."

Hawker Zheng Ji, 54, agreed, saying that the junction has been flooded at least 10 times over the past three years.

PUB said in a statement that drainage improvement works at the junction will be brought forward to mid-next year instead of the fourth quarter.

Another pump will also be installed this week to aid the one transferring water to the drain across New Upper Changi Road.

"In addition, the depressed section of Chai Chee Road will be raised and work will start in November," PUB said.

Figures from PUB show that total rainfall of 54mm was recorded at Ping Yi Secondary School in Chai Chee from 12.30pm to 1.30pm, of which 48mm was recorded from 12.30pm to 1pm.

Marine Parade Market and Food Centre also reeked of a foul smell when its toilets overflowed and dirty water mixed with the floodwaters. Hawkers and stallholders, seen working in 10cm- deep rainwater, said business has been hit by the floods.

"Once the place is flooded, no customer wants to come," said hawker Tan Ah Guan, 62, who owns Apollo Fresh Cockle Fried Kway Teow.

Hawkers said toilet drainage has been a problem for the past few years, and the problem is exacerbated when it rains heavily.

Some patrons said water levels in the toilet bowls can near the brim, making the toilets almost impossible to flush. "We call the authorities a few times a week, and we've closed our stalls before for them to unclog the pipes, but it hasn't improved," said a hawker who asked to be known only as Mr Lee, 52.

In a statement, the Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said that as of 7.30pm yesterday, total rainfall over Marine Parade Road was 66.2mm.

With more rainy days ahead, wet market stallholders are getting worried too. "When it rains in the afternoon, our business is not so affected. But if the place floods in the morning, it'll be bad for us," said pork seller Koh Sweet Huat, 58.

The MSS said on Monday that total rainfall this December and January could be 10 per cent to 20 per cent above average.

A spokesman for Marine Parade Town Council told The Straits Times it was aware of the situation. He said the market and food centre closed for a month late last year for repair and redecoration works, and a section of the sewer was repaired.

He said the town council has identified several external factors causing the flooding and is working with stakeholders, including PUB, the National Environment Agency, Marine Parade Merchants' Association and hawker representatives on the matter.

"Our town council has carried out CCTV inspection of all the sewer lines recently and will be carrying out repair works," said the spokesman.

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Heavy showers, flash floods hit eastern Singapore

Audrey Tan Straits Times 30 Oct 13;

Vehicles were left stranded at the junction between Chai Chee Road and New Upper Changi Road on Wednesday after the area was flooded again. This after heavy showers caused flash flooding at the same junction on Monday.

Mr Zheng Ji, a hawker at Foodhub@Chai Chee located at 26A Chai Chee Road, said he has seen the junction flood at least 10 times over the past three years. "Every time there is a heavy rain, the junction will flood," said the 54-year-old. "Sometimes, aunties will fall into the drain at the side when the water overflows."

With flood risks in mind, national water agency PUB has stepped up drainage maintenance efforts from once to three times a week. It will also inspect 100 construction sites to ensure nearby drains remain obstacle-free.

Showers trigger flash floods in eastern Singapore
Today Online 30 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — Heavy showers resulted in a few flash floods in eastern Singapore this afternoon (Oct 30), with Bedok and Chai Chee the most affected.

The PUB reported that there was a flash flood at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road at around 12.45pm. By 1pm, however, the junction was not passable to traffic.

The flood at the junction had subsided by 1.20pm, the PUB reported via its Twitter feed.

There were also reports of water levels rising to above the 90 per cent mark, posing a high flood risk, at Siglap Road, Marine Parade Road and at the Jamiyah Children’s Home on Chin Cheng Avenue, which is near the junction of Still Road and Changi Road.

The Bedok South Avenue 1 exit from the East Coast Parkway expressway was also affected.

All flash floods had subsided by 1.30pm.

Moderation to heavy thundery showers also drenched the other regions of Singapore.

Related links
Katong Ponding on the Breakfast Network

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Singapore Tourism Board: Heritage, history play critical role in tourism efforts

Edward Koh, Executive Director, Strategy and Planning, Research and Incentives, Singapore Tourism Board
Today Online 31 Oct 13;

We thank Mr John Chia for his suggestions in “Don’t let cultural tourism fade into the background” (Oct 14).

Our heritage and history have always played a critical role in helping locals and visitors appreciate our Singapore story. Hence, we have been working with industry partners and grassroots organisations to promote Singapore’s rich culture.

In the cultural precincts of Chinatown and Little India, for instance, we partner relevant grassroots organisations to organise and develop activities, tours and experiences that are sensitive to the respective areas.

There are excellent cultural tourism products like the Changi Museum War Trails, by The Changi Museum and tour company Journeys, which recently won the Best Travel Experience accolade at the Singapore Experience Awards.

We are constantly seeking new ideas. Enterprising firms or people with ideas on cultural tourism can tap our recently launched S$5 million Kickstart Fund (see

As we strive towards Quality Tourism, a development model focused on creating authentic experiences for travellers, our unique heritage and contribution from locals will become more critical to our future success.

Hence, we welcome more conversations from people on ways to shape Singapore into a better place to visit.

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Scientists: SARS virus originated from China's horseshoe bats

The Star 31 Oct 13;

CANBERRA: The Australian national science body, CSIRO, has confirmed that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) virus originated in horseshoe bats from China.

The findings were made by a research team led by Prof Shi Zhengli from Wuhan Institute of Virology, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, CSIRO and Duke-NUS scientist Prof Linfa Wang, according to the Xinhua news agency.

The team isolated a SARS-like coronavirus (CoV) called SL-CoV WIV1 directly from faecal samples of Chinese horseshoe bats using a methodology developed by scientists at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, Victoria.

While researchers globally have previously used genetic sequencing to demonstrate that bats are the natural reservoirs of SARS-like CoVs, this is the first time that live virus has been successfully isolated from bats to confirm them as the origin of the virus.

"The results will help governments design more effective prevention strategies for SARS and similar epidemics," the agency said citing CSIRO.

The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) pandemic has killed 774 people out of 8,094 infected, a case fatality ratio of almost 10%.

Horseshoe bats are found around the world including in Australia and play an important ecological role.

Their role in SARS-CoV transmission highlights the importance of protecting the bat's natural environment, so they are not forced into highly populated urban areas in search of food.

The latest research is published in the journal Nature. - Bernama

Bats responsible for SARS virus
CSIRO Science Alert 30 Oct 13;

A team of international scientists has isolated a very close relative of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) from horseshoe bats in China, confirming them as the origin of the virus responsible for the 2002-3 pandemic.

The SARS-CoV pandemic killed 774 people of the 8094 people infected, a case fatality ratio of almost 10 per cent. With cases diagnosed across the world, the pandemic had an impact on international travel and trade.

The research team, led by Professor Shi Zhengli from Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences and including CSIRO and Duke-NUS scientist Professor Linfa Wang, have just had their breakthrough results published in the prestigious journal Nature.

The results will help governments design more effective prevention strategies for SARS and similar epidemics.

While researchers globally have previously used genetic sequencing to demonstrate that bats are the natural reservoirs of SARS-like CoVs, this is the first time that live virus has been successfully isolated from bats to definitively confirm them as the origin of the virus.

The team successfully isolated a SARS-like CoV, named SL-CoV WIV1, directly from faecal samples of Chinese Horseshoe bats using the world renowned bat virus isolation methodology developed by scientists at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong.

The results will help governments design more effective prevention strategies for SARS and similar epidemics.

Horseshoe bats are found around the world, including Australia and play an important ecological role. Their role in SARS-CoV transmission highlights the importance of protecting the bat’s natural environment so they are not forced into highly populated urban areas in search of food.
This work is part of CSIRO's ongoing commitment to protect Australia from biosecurity threats posed by new and emerging infectious diseases.

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Malaysians bracing for year-end floods

Sin Chew 30 Oct 13;

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 (Bernama) -- The flash floods that hit several west coast states in the Peninsula were the result of a heavy downfall attributed to the tail end of the Southwest monsoon.

The floods also marked the advent of the Northeast monsoon.

People in the Klang Valley as well as the southern parts of Perak are now experiencing rain everyday, a result of this 'transition period'.

In fact, some parts of Perak and Kedah, such as the districts of Manjong (in Perak) as well as Kepala Batas and Yan (in Kedah) are experiencing torrential rains and floods.

Though it is by no means an extraordinary phenomenon, the Northeast monsoon is expected to last for about five months from November until March, and the rains are expected to unleash their fury over the east coast states of Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and some parts in Johor.

So, are such floods imminent? That is a question that many ask around this time of the year.

Floods in Malaysia

Since 1920, Malaysia experienced a number of major floods such as the ones in 1926, 1963, 1965, 1967, 1969, 1971, 1973, 1979, 1983, 1988, 1993, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2007 and the latest being in 2011

The floods that hit Kuala Lumpur and several other states in 1971 left in their wake a trail of massive destruction of property, the losses pegged at RM200 million, apart from the 61 lives lost in the calamity.

But the floods in Johor in 2006-2007 wreaked maximum economic loss in the country's history, the figure standing at a stunning figure of more than RM1.5 billion.

The floods had caused massive damage to infrastructure including bridges and roads apart from agricultural farms as well as many business premises.

Some 110,000 people were displaced and had to seek shelter at flood evacuation centers statewide while 18 fatalities were recorded.

Weather forecasts are crucial

According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department's Weather Forecast Center Director Muhammad Helmi Abdullah, weather forecasts are dependent on phenomena like the El-Nino and La-Nina.

The El-Nino led to an exceptional hot and dry spell while La-Nina's effect was exactly the opposite.

This year, the country is only experiencing the minimum impact of these two phenomena, he told Bernama.

"No exceptionally high rainfall is expected during this year's Northeast Monsoon and the average rainfall will not be above 500mm," he says.

Muhammad Helmi explains that the floods usually occur due to several factors like storms, strong winds and exceptionally high tides.

"However, the amount of rainfall this year is expected to remain average and if floods do occur, then these will be the normal seasonal floods and not like the ones that hit the country in 2006/2007," he explains.

Downfall episodes

About four to five spells of rainfall are expected during this year's Northeast monsoon, beginning in early November and continuing until the end of March in 2014.

The rains will be due to the low pressure and a 'cyclone vortex' expected to occur near the Equator from November till January next year. This will cause strong winds in the South China Sea and West Pacific Ocean.

Both these winds will gather near the Peninsular of Malaysia, triggering heavy rains and huge waves in the east coast region, says Muhammad Helmi. From January to March next year, the wind will move towards Sabah and Sarawak.

He says the department will issue public warnings to enable the people to prepare to deal with the situation.

"The warnings will be issued four to five days before the expected heavy downfall, particularly to fishermen," he says.

He says the department utilizes 13 doppler radars to obtain accurate weather forecasts apart from using satellite pictures and weather monitoring cameras at all meteorological stations nationwide.

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WWF-Malaysia lauds plans in Budget 2014

Isabelle Lai The Star 31 Oct 13;

PETALING JAYA: WWF-Malaysia has given the thumbs up to several green initiatives outlined in Budget 2014, including the Environmental, Social and Government (ESG) Index and the establishment of a National Conservation Trust Fund.

WWF-Malaysia executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said threats and challenges to the environment would continue to exist, which he said was why Budget 2014 was “all about growth and development”.

He noted that initiatives like the ESG would play a role in ensuring environmental considerations were not left behind in the pursuit of economic development.

“It will also ensure corporate governance is enhanced to stop the onslaught, degradation or destruction of the country’s natural environment in the name of progress and development. Otherwise, the well being of the rakyat will ultimately be adversely affected,” he said in a statement.

Dr Sharma, who is also WWF-Malaysia’s CEO, said economic resilience was inextricably linked to the maintenance of a healthy and functioning environment, with sustainable use of its products and services.

He said the Barisan Nasional’s recent general election manifesto had acknowledged this in stating that Malaysia’s abundant resources had been the engine of economic growth for decades.

He said the Barisan had also made the election promise to protect the nation’s natural resources.

“The National Conservation Trust Fund is a good start to fulfilling this election promise, which is also made in the National Biodiversity Policy 1998 and the 10th Malaysia Plan,” he said, adding that the fund must ensure that conservation efforts received sustainable and long-term financing.

He also hoped allocations to increase economic activities and outputs in industries such as oil and gas, palm oil and rubber would be underpinned by principles of environmental sustainability.

Dr Sharma also praised Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s statement that efforts would be made to market Malaysia as a Social Responsible Investment (SRI) venue, saying this was a positive initiative to help steer investments towards sustainable and inclusive activities.

He also welcomed the National Carbon Reporting Programme (MyCarbon), investment tax allowance on green technology products, income tax exemption on green technology services and systems as well as the establishment of the Malaysian Green Foundation.

“We will work closely with the Government and related organisations to move Malaysia on its ‘green journey’ and look forward to seeing all the green initiatives in Budget 2014 implemented next year and in the near future,” he said.

Do you care about the environment?
Victoria Brown The Star 1 Nov 13;

Victoria Brown thinks it’s time to reevaluate our half-hearted stance on the environment.

HOW high do you place Mother Nature on your priority list? The answers range, with some saying that more has to be done to protect our environment, while others nonchalantly reply that they don’t really care.

There is no denying that there are a large number of Malaysians who shove aside their responsibilities in protecting our environment to someone else.

I’m talking about the person who tosses their trash out moving vehicles or openly burns their garbage instead of properly disposing of it.

If everyone had this sort of mentality, our world would be a very different place.

Imagine life without clean rivers, lakes or seas; no rainforests or animals; living in a toxic wasteland.

Before you laugh this terrible scenario off, just look up the pictures of the acres of trees we have cut down and the countless of dirty teh-tarik coloured and rubbish-filled rivers Malaysia has.

The environment affects everybody in some way or another and it’s about time we do something about it!

Thankfully, the government has addressed some environmental concerns in Budget 2014 and are beginning to take a few steps forward in terms of environmental conservation (see Budget 2014 points at the end of the article).

I spoke to a couple of environmental organisations to discuss their thoughts on the government’s allocation to the environmental sector in the latest budget.

Kanitha Krishnasamy, a senior programme officer at Traffic Southeast Asia, expressed her delight on the mention of The National Conservation Trust Fund, which is something that has been deliberated for close to a decade.

“It’s good to see it mentioned, hopefully it will come into effect soon and be an initiative that protects wildlife and protected areas,” she said.

However, she mentioned that there weren’t much details on wildlife protection efforts.

“Illegal hunting and wildlife trade is a serious problem in Malaysia, evidenced by the level of hunting and seizures occurring throughout the country,” said Kanitha.

She said that more enforcement has to be carried out to ensure that we don’t lose more of our “precious wildlife to ruthless poachers and traders”.

“One of the most urgent needs is to improve on-the-ground efforts and intensify patrolling within key forest landscapes to ensure that the killing is stopped,” she said.

“Enforcement agencies must be equipped with the right people, tools and resources to ensure that our forests are protected from encroachment, kept safe from poachers,” added Kanitha.

Kanitha says that patrolling and enforcement activities should focus on key areas such as Belum-Temengor, Taman Negara and Endau Rompin.

World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF)-Malaysia executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma agrees that the National Conservation Trust Fund is a good start to fulfilling the government’s election promise to conserving our environment.

“It is important that this Fund is set up with a view to ensure that conservation efforts receive sustainable and long-term financing and is able to withstand any flux in economic outlook,” said Sharma.

He stresses the importance of maintaining a “healthy and functioning environment” and the “sustainable use of products and services”.

On the other hand, Sharma says that Budget 2014 is also about growth and development, which is sure to bring about challenges and threats to the environment.

“We have seen that happening in the past, and we continue to see it today,” he continued.

With that in mind, Sharma said that it is essential that measures should be in place to ensure that economic activities and development are conducted based on improved environmental and socially responsible operations.

“Otherwise, the well-being of the rakyat will ultimately be adversely affected,” said Sharma.

Overall, there are still concerns and issues among environmental groups regarding the government’s steps to conserve our environment and ecosystems.

Personally, I hope that the government will effectively implement the points mentioned in Budget 2014 and that more effort will be put into educating the public on the importance of caring for our environment.

What are your thoughts on the government’s environmental initiatives in Budget 2014? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

The following environmental issues have been addressed in Budget 2014:

- The implementation of the National Carbon Reporting Programme or MyCarbon for the corporate sector.

- The establishment of a National Conservation Trust Fund for conservation of degraded areas and permanent forest reserves.

- Provide investment tax allowance for the purchase of green technology equipment and income tax exemption on the use of green technology services and system.

- Malaysian Green Foundation will be established to promote and enhance use of green technology by the corporate sector and the general public.

- Allocation of RM40mil to widen and deepen Sungai Bertam.

- Government will install solar panels on rooftops of ministry buildings as well as replace existing lights with LED lights in stages.

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Swallowed by coal: UK profits from Indonesia's destructive mining industry

Funded by British investment, mining brings deforestation, health problems and pollution to Samarinda, part of 'coal's last frontier'
John Vidal 30 Oct 13;

Just 30 years ago, Samarinda was a sleepy village surrounded by deep equatorial forest and known mostly for its traditionally woven sarongs. Today it is the largest city in Indonesia's East Kalimantan province, with nearly 1 million inhabitants. It is also the centre of the burgeoning coal industry, surrounded by more than 1,000 mines and concessions.

The forests have gone, opencast mines circle the city and giant barges pass down the river Mahakam every few minutes taking coal to India, Japan, Korea and beyond. Nearly 70% of the city has been handed to coal companies as concessions. In theory, Samarinda could be swallowed by coal.

The city and most of East Kalimantan is unrecognisable to those who left some three decades ago, but now, say Indonesian and British campaigners, coal mining is poised to rip through central Kalimantan, or Borneo, a few hundred miles west of Samarinda. Mining companies such as BHP Billiton are moving in with money raised in London to exploit some of the world's largest deposits in what is being called coal's last frontier. So far, 449 exploration concessions have been awarded, covering 15,313 square miles (39,662 sq km) – about 25% of the area of the whole densely forested province famed for its tribespeople, remoteness and wildlife.

According to the World Development Movement and its partner in Indonesia, the East Kalimantan Mining Advocacy Network, mining and the infrastructure needed to extract and export coal from the heart of Borneo will inevitably ruin vast, heavily forested areas at great cost to people living there and the environment.

Apart from the millions of tonnes of carbon that will be emitted from the burning of the coal, massive railway projects are planned, and giant pits and waste dumps will be needed to support the industry. This will lead to pollution of rivers and land-grabbing during the digging of vast open-cast pits each covering several square miles, as people flock there in search for jobs.

The pace of the mining is speeding up in central Kalimantan. More than 8.5m tonnes of coal were dug last year compared with less than 1m tonnes in 2005; and by 2020 companies could be extracting more than 20m tonnes a year. Indo Met, the largest concession in central Kalimantan, owned by BHP Billiton, covers 350,000 hectares and is thought to have coal reserves of more than 774m tonnes.

Where mining has started, people complain of air pollution, flooding, and land grabs. "We receive all the negatives of coal but very little of the benefits. We will receive the full impact of the waste when they start dumping. The forest will be gone and we will lose our rubber trees," Erly Aisha, a Dayak leader from Maruwei village, told WDM.

Waste from Borneo Lumbung's mine has seeped into the local rivers, say other villagers. "The water is dark and dirty and makes your skin itch. We don't drink it now. The new mine is not operating but the company already has our land. We feel afraid," said Yesmaidfa, a mother in Maruwei.

According to WDM, the UK financial sector is involved in more than 50 major coal mines worked by 12 large companies in East and others in central Kalimantan.

BHP Billiton, which is listed on the London Stock Exchange, has recieved millions of pounds of investment from Barclays. Because it is part of the FTSE 100, almost every pension holder in the UK has money invested in it. Borneo Lumbung, which controls the Asmin Koalindo Tuhup mine in central Kalimantan, received a loan of $1bn (£0.6bn) from the UK bank Standard Chartered in 2012. Most of the money, says WDM, was used to buy shares in Bumi, the troubled London-listed firm co-founded by financier Nat Rothschild that owns large stakes in some of the biggest mining projects in East Kalimantan.

BHP Billiton, which has a 75% share in the giant IndoMet coal project, is estimated by WDM to have used about £110m of money raised in London. Elsewhere, Adaro Energy, Indonesia's second-largest producer of thermal coal, received £245m from a coalition of UK banks, including HSBC and Standard Chartered.

"With the financial sector shrouded in secrecy, it will be very hard to do anything more than estimate the true extent of involvement that UK financial and investment institutions have in fossil fuel projects in places such as Indonesia," said Alex Scrivener, author of the WDM report. "The sector and its institutions must be held to account for their bankrolling of climate change and environmental destruction."

Andrew Hickman, from the Indonesian mining watchdog Down to Earth, said: "The energy we consume in Britain is dirty, but the profit that UK companies make from Indonesia's coal is dirtier. Local communities facing health problems, pollution and human rights abuses in Indonesia know that this coal is deadly too. BHP Billiton's Borneo coal concessions will be a disaster for local people, the environment and our climate."

A spokesman for BHP Billiton in London said: "The IndoMet coal project is a joint venture between BHP Billiton and Adaro. The first stage of development is a small operation called Haju and we are continuing to evaluate the potential for larger scale developments in the region. Any development in central and East Kalimantan will be subject to detailed environmental and social impact assessments, feasibility studies and will require all appropriate permits to be in place before activities commence."

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Best of o ur wild blogs: 30 Oct 13

Over 50 mature American bullfrogs released into Bishan Park
from Life's Indulgences

Sat 2nd Nov : Heritage Guided Walk
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Hot Spot for Butterfly Sighting and Photography Part 1
from Beauty of Fauna and Flora in Nature

Butterflies Galore! : Apefly
from Butterflies of Singapore

Garcnia nigrolineata – The beaked kandis
from lekowala!

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Rise in pirate attacks near Batam

Zakir Hussain Indonesia Bureau Chief In Jakarta Straits Times 30 Oct 13;

THE waters off Indonesia's Pulau Nipah, some 10km south of Tuas and north-west of Batam, have seen a spike in attacks on ships, prompting maritime watchdogs to warn vessels to be extra vigilant when anchored in the area.

The Singapore-based information sharing centre of the Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP), in its latest report out this month, highlighted seven incidents involving tankers anchored at Nipah Anchorage in the first nine months of this year.

Earlier this month, another four attacks took place on ships anchored at Nipah and nearby Karimun Anchorage, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said.

All but one occurred between 2am and 5.30am and involved groups of four to six robbers.

There has been a steep decline in piracy and armed robbery on ships passing through the Strait of Malacca and Strait of Singapore in recent years, partly as a result of coordinated patrols by littoral states.

But these latest robberies have sparked concern that pirates are resurfacing in waters off Indonesia and could pose a greater threat if not checked.

"These attacks are not like those off Somalia, they are more low-level and localised," said Mr Noel Choong, head of IMB's piracy reporting centre in Kuala Lumpur.

"But for a seafarer, it does not matter what a pirate is looking for as the seafarer may be injured or killed," he noted.

"If the police and navy can concentrate efforts on these few areas, it will bring down the attacks."

ReCAAP recorded 55 attacks in Indonesian waters over the first nine months of this year, up from 48 over the same period last year and 11 in 2009.

In most cases, the robbers were armed with knives and weapons like machetes and metal rods. They made off with engine spare parts and bearing shells.

IMB has recorded 12 more attacks this month, the latest on a chemical tanker at Belawan anchorage, another hot spot off North Sumatra, on Sunday.

Dr Sam Bateman, senior research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies' Maritime Security Programme, said security in some Indonesian ports and anchorages is a problem.

He suggested better coordination between agencies providing security, more active patrolling and enhanced radar coverage.

Commodore Agus Heryana, commander of the Indonesian Navy base at Tanjung Pinang on Bintan, said crew should also play a part and stay vigilant.

"(The robbers) usually strike before dawn, when patrol boats rarely pass," he said.

"We will act if we encounter them."

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BCA to study how to equip older buildings to deal with haze

Neo Chai Chin Today Online 30 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — When the Republic went through its worst spell of haze in June this year, some building owners were left helpless as murky clouds of pollutants formed in their lobbies.

IAQ Consultants, which provides indoor air quality diagnostic and consultancy services, tested the buildings of 12 to 15 clients then and found that none of them met standards specified in Singapore’s code of practice for indoor air quality of air-conditioned buildings, said its General Manager Emma Precious.

That could all change in the future, as the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) is studying if older buildings can be better equipped to deal with haze situations, should they occur again.

In particular, it wants to find out whether upgrading their air filtration systems is a feasible idea, what technical challenges the work could entail and how much it would cost, including for subsequent maintenance and the differences in energy consumption.

It called a tender earlier this month to study 10 existing non-residential buildings — including hotels, malls and offices — that are more than 10 years old.

Asked why it was commissioning the study and whether it was because of concern about the impact of the haze on building occupants earlier this year, the BCA would only say that indoor environment quality is one of the focus areas of its upcoming third Green Building Masterplan.

It mentioned a “haze situation” in the tender “so that tenderers can take such situations into account in the feasibility study”, a spokesperson said.

It is not known how many buildings here are equipped with air filters of the Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value 13 (MERV 13) standard stated in the tender, but those developed since 2009 are required to have secondary air filters that meet the mark.

MERV 13-rated filters should ideally filter out more than 90 per cent of particles 1 to 3 microns in size.

The current code of practice for indoor air quality of air-conditioned buildings specifies thresholds for potential indoor air contaminants — for instance, that particulates up to 10 microns in size should not exceed 50 micrograms per cubic metre.

Buildings with the BCA’s Green Mark certification are likely to have more efficient air filters. Nearly 1,700 buildings — which make up one-fifth of the total gross floor area here — bear the Green Mark, said the spokesperson.

Although Singapore’s buildings are probably better equipped than those in Malaysia or Indonesia to filter out pollutants, most older buildings here that he has encountered have less efficient air filter systems rated MERV 5 to 8, said Mr Nigel Grier, Chief Executive of BE Integrative Design, a specialist engineering, design and project management firm. “A lot more can be done,” he said.

Experts noted that cost could be an obstacle to filtration system upgrades.

More efficient air filters may cost 12 per cent more than less efficient ones, said Mr Joseph Toh, Chairman of the Institution of Engineers’ mechanical and electrical engineering technical committee. It costs about S$8/sq m of gross floor area to upgrade to an MERV13 system, he added.

Even among air filters with the same efficiency, costs can vary by up to 10 times, noted Mr Grier. But he pointed out that higher-quality, higher-level filters generally mean lower system costs over their lifetime.

It is “critical” for businesses to ensure high indoor air quality for their staff, he said. “Business must go on (even during the haze) and people need to be able to work in a comfortable, healthy environment.”

Mr Toh also added that “a healthy building may be able to command higher rentals and attract more people to occupy it”.

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Malaysia: Potential Investors In Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex Taking Wait-and-see Attitude

Mohd Haikal Mohd Isa Bernama 29 Oct 13;

JOHOR BAHARU, Oct 29 (Bernama) -- Most of the companies that have shown interest in the Pengerang Integrated Petroleum Complex (PIPC) are now adopting a wait-and-see attitude before making the final decision, according to Johor Petroleum Development Corporation Bhd (JPDC).

Its chief executive Mohd Yazid Jaafar said the potential investors involved wanted to wait for the final decision by Petronas on the Refinery and Petrochemical Integrated Development (Rapid) project before deciding on the next move.

"Based on our evaluation, the companies involved have just expressed their interest (to invest in PIPC) and not more than that. They are awaiting the final decision by Petronas whether it would continue the Rapid project or not," he told Bernama here Tuesday.

Mohd Yazid expected the national oil company to make the final decision on its mammoth investment in Rapid in March next year.

"Cost escalation (for Rapid project) is the main consideration for Petronas," he said.

Asked on the background of the potential companies interested to invest in PIPC, he said the bulk of them are service providers in the oil and gas industry.

According to previous reports, Petronas was expected to invest some RM60 billion in the Rapid project to build a refinery with a capacity of 300,000 barrels per day, a naphtha cracker and petrochemical complex.

The project will span 2,500 hectares (ha) out of the overall PIPC project covering 8,000ha.

Asked on the status of PIPC if Petronas decided not to continue with Rapid project, Mohd Yazid said PIPC has other components besides Rapid such as Pengerang Independent Deepwater Petroleum Terminal (PIDPT).

PIPC would also have facilities to carry out trading in oil products, he said.

The first phase of the PIDPT project costing RM1.9 billion, which consists of the construction of a 1.3 million litre storage facility, was more than 80 per cent complete and was expected to be fully operational in April next year, he said.

"PIDPT is expected to receive the first oil cargo vessel in April next year, to mark its operation," he said of the RM5 billion project.

The PIDPT project is being developed by local firm, Dialog Bhd with the cooperation of Royal Vopak from The Netherlands and a subsidiary of the state government, State Secretary Inc.

Apart from PIDPT, Dialog and its two partners will also build a regasification terminal at PIPC, which is estimated to cost RM4 billion.


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Best of our wild blogs: 29 Oct 13

Latest Green Jobs in Singapore [21 - 27 Oct 2013]
from Green Business Singapore

Sun 3rd November: Walk with the Tomb Whisperer
from a.t.Bukit Brown. Heritage. Habitat. History.

Mon, 28 Oct 2013, 4.00pm @ CR1: Sanjay P. Sane on “How flying insects balance speed with accuracy” from The Biodiversity crew @ NUS

The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature (ICZN) and the Biodiversity Informatics Infrastructure: 14 November 2013, 7:00pm–8:00pm from Raffles Museum News

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Time to get hooked on sustainable seafood

Supplies fast running out so traders, retailers need to tackle issue: Experts
Melissa Lin Strait Times 29 Oct 13;

SINGAPOREANS consume 140,000 tonnes of seafood a year but they may soon have to change their eating habits.

Traders and retailers in Singapore were yesterday urged to buy from sustainable fisheries or farms, after being told that supplies were "fast running out".

About 75 people from the fisheries industry attended Singapore's first Sustainable Seafood Business Forum, organised by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Singapore and Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).

WWF Singapore chief executive Elaine Tan, in a media statement, said 87 per cent of the world's fisheries are fully or overexploited.

Participants at the forum at Shangri-La Hotel shared their ideas on how to tackle the problem.

Sustainable fishing practices include catching only a certain quota so enough fish are left to breed.

Singapore imports more than 90 per cent of its fish for domestic consumption. Most of this comes from the Coral Triangle, which covers the seas of Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia.

Next year, WWF Singapore and the MSC will host a festival from June 8 to 15 featuring sustainable seafood. This is to raise awareness among consumers about the range of sustainable seafood products available here.

MSC, a global non-profit organisation that sets the standards for sustainable fisheries, runs a certification and eco-labelling programme consistent with international standards. Out of 207 MSC-certified fisheries, only one - Vietnam - is from Asia .

It is not known how many food establishments here get their seafood supplies from such sources.

But at yesterday's forum, Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts was mentioned as an example of a business that serves responsibly harvested seafood. The Hong Kong-based chain stopped selling shark's fin, bluefin tuna and Chilean sea bass at its 81 hotels worldwide last year as part of its sustainable seafood policy.

However, some companies told The Straits Times that they face challenges such as the higher price of sustainable seafood and difficulties in finding suppliers.

Mrs Amanda Phan, 31, started casual western bistro Grub at Bishan Park with three friends in May. For their menu, they referred to WWF's Seafood Guide, which recommends sustainable seafood choices.

"We had to do extensive research before finding a suitable supplier," she said. "It took about six months to research, source for suppliers and plan the menu with the sustainable seafood options."

The price of the hake used for the bistro's fish burger is also 20 per cent to 40 per cent more expensive than non-sustainable types of fish, she added.

High Fresh Trading director Hong Ying Lien said she is working with the MSC to ensure her sources practise sustainable methods. Her company supplies mud crabs to hotels, supermarkets and restaurants such as Long Beach and No Signboard Seafood.

Her company imports about two tonnes of crabs from India and Indonesia each day. She said: "We'll take it step by step and start by giving our clients a choice to pick the sustainable options."

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Energy Warriors: Undergrads' 'great charter' for environment

One man demonstrated ‘outstanding leadership’ in searching for solutions to the energy sector’s manpower challenges, while an organisation made a sustained effort in promoting energy awareness among youth. Another organisation received special mention for rallying youth around energy causes. The Straits Times speaks to the inaugural winners of the Singapore Energy Award, which honours those who have made transformational changes in the energy sector, and finds out what fuels their passion.
Straits Times 29 Oct 13;

A LOVE for Lego was what drew 22-year-old Rochelle Hung to the National University of Singapore's student organisation Energy Carta.

Earlier this year, Energy Carta organised an event called Changing the Game, which visualised energy usage through the use of Lego bricks.

Ms Hung, a major in Project and Facility Management at NUS' School of Design and Environment (SDE), heard about it through a department e-mail blast. A long-time lover of Lego, she signed up. "I was determined to understand more about the energy field, especially sustainability, and be able to plan the future that I want to be in, that is, one with smart and sustainable buildings," she recalls.

Ms Hung eventually became one of the student leaders of Energy Carta, which has earned a Special Mention Award in the Organisation category of the inaugural Singapore Energy Award.

Energy Carta, which draws part of its name from the ancient historical document Magna Carta, or Latin for "great charter", was founded by 30-year-old NUS alumnus Yujun Chean in 2008.

The then final-year engineering student had been working with a Silicon Valley start-up and attending classes at Stanford University under a year-long NUS student programme, when he saw former US vice-president Al Gore deliver a landmark speech ahead of the screening of his documentary An Inconvenient Truth. Separately, he also attended a conference by a now-defunct Stanford organisation that convinced him students could make a difference.

Back at NUS, it dawned on him that he could do something similar. "I penned down names of prominent individuals within the clean-tech world," he recalls. "I also tried to get my friends excited about creating a student-run conference as a final year project."

In the end, an event he thought would simply allow him to "leave school with a bang" ended up having a much greater impact.

First, Professor Chou Siaw Kiang, executive director of the NUS Energy Studies Institute, encouraged him not to set up the organisation as a Stanford offshoot but as an independent Singapore-rooted organisation.

Then, the Economic Development Board (EDB) threw in its support and the Energy Market Authority (EMA) agreed to make Energy Carta its youth partner at the inaugural Singapore International Energy Week in 2008.

"This gave us a lot of credibility when we were pitching for support, speakers and funding, and accelerated our growth curve," says Mr Chean.

What resulted was the Asian Youth Energy Summit in 2008, which became the largest student-led energy conference in Singapore, attracting over 500 participants and featuring 30 industry speakers. The following year, Energy Carta added the Chevron Case Challenge, where 97 teams vied to develop the best 20-year energy plan for a fictional city.

A year later, the winner of the Singapore round of the Cleantech Open Global Ideas Competition was flown to the United States for the global leg of the competition.

Energy Carta has raised more than $170,000 in sponsorships from corporations such as PowerSeraya, Chevron, Sembcorp, Singapore Airlines and UOL.

"These funds have enabled us to organise large-scale events, reaching well over a thousand participants," says Mr Chean.

"The belief is that while most people may not be intrinsically keen to solve climate change, they may indirectly do so by building a career in the sector, and Energy Carta aims to get them started on that path," he explains.

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Authorities looking into deploying renewable energy on larger scale

EMA conducting review of regulatory framework for intermittent energy sources
Siau Ming En Today Online 29 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — In future, it could be easier for smaller consumers with intermittent energy sources — such as schools, factories and warehouses — to be paid for supplying excess electricity that they generate to the national grid.

How this will be done is being worked out in a review of the regulatory framework that the Energy Market Authority (EMA) is now conducting, said Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran, at the start of the Singapore International Energy Week yesterday. A public consultation on the framework was also launched yesterday.

Intermittent generation sources are those whose output depends on environmental factors and weather conditions. Examples include solar and wind energy.

As renewable energy grows as a commercially-viable energy source for Singapore, the review will help to prepare for integrating such renewable energy options into the electricity market eventually without affecting grid stability, said Mr Iswaran.

One of the first changes to ease the entry of intermittent energy producers into the market is the raising of the supply cap to the grid. Instead of the current “hard cap” of 350MWp, producers will be able to supply 600MWp to the grid, said Mr Iswaran, who is also Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office and Second Minister for Home Affairs.

“That’s a significant move, because when you incorporate renewables with their intermittency and so on, the need for back-up and reserve capacity is even greater ... The main signal we are sending here is that the system has the capacity to accommodate renewable energy introduction,” he said.

The EMA will continue to explore “how best to procure and cost in reserves to manage this intermittency”, he added.

On another front, a Demand Response scheme will also be rolled out in 2015, following a consultation process that was launched last year, said Mr Iswaran.

The scheme, which allows larger consumers — those that consume over 10,000KwH of electricity every month, such as commercial and industrial users — to monitor prices of energy and adjust their usage accordingly, aims to encourage them to optimise their energy use. Those who stand to benefit, for instance, are those with flexible production processes and can choose to temporarily switch off specific non-critical production equipment, or consumers who can reduce their electricity demand by running their back-up generators for short periods,

“This can moderate price spikes, lower energy costs and generate system-wide savings. These savings will then be passed through to consumers who curtail their demand,” said the minister. According to the EMA, these consumers make up about 75 per cent of electricity demand here.

Demand Response providers will also benefit from the scheme — they will receive incentive payments amounting to one-third of savings when electricity prices fall because of lower demand.

Mr Iswaran encouraged these providers to approach their customers and equip them with the technical requirements to participate in the scheme in the interim.

More details of the scheme will be released at the SIEW this week.

Authorities reviewing rules on energy sources such as solar power
Singapore is also looking to launch an electricity futures market in the second half of next year
Siau Ming En Today Online 29 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — The Energy Market Authority (EMA) is looking at the possibility of making it easier for consumers with their own sources of generating energy –- such as solar power –- to be paid for supplying the excess energy they generate to the grid.

These are smaller consumers that consume less than 1MW of electricity per month, and include schools, factories and warehouses.

This will be part of a public consultation on the regulatory framework for intermittent generation sources – which includes solar energy – which was announced today by Second Minister for Home Affairs and Trade and Industry S Iswaran (Oct 28) at the Singapore International Energy Week (SIEW).

In his opening remarks at the event, Mr Iswaran said the review is to facilitate greater distribution of renewable energy sources and help them integrate into the current electricity market.

The EMA will also raise the hard cap on the amount of intermittent generation sources that can be supplied to the grid, from 350MWp to 600MWp. The public consultation will conclude in January next year.

Mr Iswaran also announced that the EMA will roll out a Demand Response scheme in 2015, following a consultation last year to include the scheme as part of Singapore’s electricity market. The scheme will allow consumers to monitor prices of energy and reduce their electricity usage when prices are higher, for example. The EMA will release more details of the scheme later at SIEW this week.

Singapore is also looking to launch an electricity futures market some time in the second half of next year, which will allow industry players to trade contracts of electricity products at specified prices. Mr Iswaran said that six generation companies in Singapore have expressed interest in collaborating with the Singapore Exchange to develop the electricity futures market here, following the launch of the consultation paper at last year’s SIEW.

SGX to launch electricity futures market
Siau Ming En Today Online 29 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — The Republic is poised to launch an electricity futures market in the second half of next year, said Second Minister for Trade and Industry S Iswaran yesterday.

The futures market, which will support the trading of electricity products in the future at specified prices, will help big consumers of electricity — typically malls and companies in the manufacturing and pharmaceutical sectors — better manage price volatility by allowing them to secure longer-term prices, he said.

“A futures market will also provide an alternative avenue for independent retailers to enter the market by enabling them to purchase longer-term hedges. The entry of such independent players can, in turn, further spur retail competition to the benefit of end-consumers,” Mr Iswaran added.

For instance, the futures market will provide independent retailers the option to secure fixed price contracts and offer competitive packages to the consumers.

Six power-generation companies — including Senoko Energy and Tuas Power Generation — have also expressed interest in working with the Singapore Exchange (SGX) to develop the futures market, said Mr Iswaran, who is also the Second Minister for Home Affairs.

The idea of such an electricity market was first mooted by the Energy Market Authority (EMA) in 2006, with a public consultation exercise launched last year.

Asked about possible speculative activity in the futures market, Mr Iswaran replied that rules and how various players participate in the electricity market will be “carefully structured” to ensure stability. The EMA added that safeguards, such as price limits, are in place by SGX to prevent speculative activity.

Commercial discussions for the development of the futures market are currently under way.

An industry workgroup is also helping the industry draw up electricity futures contracts, as well as ensuring sufficient liquidity for the trading of electricity futures — which means the electricity futures contract can be traded without causing significant changes in the prices.

SGX is working with the industry to launch a trial of the electricity futures market next year, to allow the power-generation companies to build up competencies and experience in trading.

Singapore to review regulatory framework for intermittent sources: Iswaran
Nicole Tan Channel NewsAsia 28 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: Besides the proposed formation of an electricity futures market, two other initiatives were announced at the Singapore Energy Summit on Friday.

Second Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, said Singapore will be reviewing its regulatory framework for intermittent generation sources.

The supply of these sources of energy is not continuously available due to factors that cannot be controlled, such as solar energy.

The cap on the amount that intermittent sources can supply to the power grid will be raised from 350 mega-watt peak to 600 mega-watt peak. This is to facilitate the shift towards renewable energy.

Meanwhile, a demand response scheme will be implemented to allow industry consumers to curtail energy demand when prices are high.

The scheme is expected to commence in 2015.

Mr Iswaran said: "Our objective is to foster a more competitive electricity market, ensure that our end users have got more choices, and have options to structure a portfolio for electricity demand that gives them diversification and therefore hopefully less volatility.

“So whether it's demand response, whether it's electricity futures, for both the supply side and demand side this creates an important market structure."

- CNA/gn

SGX to launch energy futures market by end-2014
Nicole Tan Channel NewsAsia 28 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: The Singapore Exchange (SGX) has announced plans to launch an electricity futures market by end-2014 -- potentially Asia's first. The move aims to boost retail competition in Singapore's electricity market.

The development of an electricity futures market was announced by Second Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, at the Singapore Energy Summit on Monday.

Later, the SGX said in a statement that the futures market will help electricity generating companies and other market participants improve asset optimisation and better manage risks.

Mr Iswaran said: "A futures market will also provide an alternative avenue for independent retailers to enter the market by enabling them to purchase longer-term hedges. The entry of such independent players can in turn further spur retail competition to the benefit of end-consumers."

Six power generation companies have indicated interest in working with the SGX to develop the futures market as market makers. They include Senoko Energy, Keppel Merlimau Cogen, Sembcorp Cogen, Tuas Power Generation, Tuaspring, and YTL PowerSeraya.

The SGX is also working closely with the Energy Market Authority, the Energy Market Company and market players to design the futures contract. It is also working out an arrangement with potential market makers to ensure sufficient liquidity for the trading of electricity futures.

"Our objective is to ensure that these sorts of electricity futures contracts complement the existing contracts that already exist in the spot market in order to create greater stability in our electricity market for suppliers and consumers alike. So we would want to make sure that the rules and the way various players participate in this market are carefully structured," added Mr Iswaran.

SGX also plans to launch a trial run for the futures market to allow companies to gain experience in trading. The targeted launch is expected to be some time in the second half of 2014.

- CNA/ac

Plan to boost solar power without destabilising grid
Feng Zengkun and Grace Chua Straits Times 29 Oct 13;

SOLAR power may be environmentally friendlier than energy derived from coal or gas, but its unreliability could lead to blackouts and power disruptions.

This is why as Singapore ramps up its use of solar panels, the Government is taking steps to ensure that solar power will not risk destabilising the national power grid even if it contributes more electricity to it.

On the first day of the Singapore International Energy Week yesterday, it announced various measures to promote the use of intermittent energy sources, such as almost doubling the cap for power generation here from such sources.

These sources cannot be controlled at will since the amount of energy generation depends on factors such as the weather.

In Singapore, the only intermittent energy source connected to the national grid is solar power.

Opening the week's Singapore Energy Summit, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office S.Iswaran launched a consultation paper to seek views on proposed changes to the rules governing such sources here.

Among the proposed changes: a simpler registration process for people with small intermittent energy generators such as solar panels.

The Energy Market Authority (EMA) is also considering allowing intermittent energy sources to supply more power to the grid.

Currently, they can supply no more than 350MW, which is about 5per cent of last year's peak electricity demand. Solar panels installed here as of June this year can generate at most about 12MW.

The cap lessens the impact on the grid in case, say, sudden cloud cover causes solar panel output to drop quickly. Reserve power from traditional sources is therefore needed to ensure stability.

However, the EMA noted that the cap may restrict the installation of intermittent energy sources in future.

It proposed an alternative and flexible system.

"But as a first step, the cap will be raised to 600 (MW), in view of our current reserves," said Mr Iswaran.

The EMA also plans to allow large consumers to voluntarily cut their electricity demand for short periods in response to high prices during peak usage to help lower their energy costs and reap other benefits.

The change is expected in 2015.

Mr Iswaran, who is also Second Minister for Trade and Industry, also announced plans to test a futures market for electricity early next year.

If the trial is successful, a futures market will be set up in the second half of the year.

Six power generation companies - Keppel Merlimau, Sembcorp, Senoko Energy, Tuas Power Generation, Tuaspring and YTL PowerSeraya - had already signed on to work with the Singapore Exchange to develop a futures market, Mr Iswaran said.

But the futures market will be carefully structured, he added. "We do not want it to become the object of speculative activity and we're quite clear about that."

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Only green builders to get big govt jobs from 2017

They will need to be certified as such before they can bid for the projects
Rachel Au-Yong Straits Times 29 Oct 13;

CONSTRUCTION firms must be certified "green and gracious" by the Government if they want to bid for public housing, school and hospital projects from 2017.

And that means adopting a variety of environment-friendly and more considerate measures which, for instance, save energy or reduce noise pollution.

The measure will affect over 300 medium-sized and large building firms, which have between January 2015 and December 2016 to earn the certification under the Green and Gracious Builder Scheme (GGBS). The certification is a requirement for being on the Building and Construction Authority's (BCA's) registry.

Firms must be on the registry before they can bid for government projects. Failure to get certified by the end of 2016 could see a firm's tender limit downgraded, said the BCA, which added that "we may reinstate their grade upon certification".

There is no timeframe yet for smaller firms, which can bid for projects worth up to $4 million, although The Straits Times understands that eventually all companies will have to go green.

"As Singapore becomes more built up, some of us may be less tolerant of disamenities like noise and dust," said Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan, as he announced the move at yesterday's Singapore Contractors Association conference on environmental sustainability.

He told the more than 200 industry participants there of the need to reduce the consumption of non-renewable natural resources, such as fuel and water, and minimise noise, dust, waste and pollution during construction.

The GGBS started out in 2009 as a voluntary scheme. But Mr Lee said the industry has been in a "critical situation" of late, in the light of the manpower crunch and the need to raise productivity.

Currently only 70 firms are certified "green and gracious" by the BCA. There are no detailed rules on how to qualify for the certificate, although revised guidelines, which place more emphasis on noise reduction and more efficient human resource practices, will be issued by the authority soon.

For instance, companies could use more energy-efficient air-con systems or install buffers that reduce vibrations. Firms are also assessed on whether they remind workers to save energy.

Going green, at least in the beginning, will come at a price, said Singapore Contractors Association president Ho Nyok Yong. "But because these moves save energy and use cleaner or fewer materials, firms are expected to recoup more savings in the long run," he said.

Quek & Quek Civil Engineering aims to become more environment-friendly, even though it will have to fork out around $100,000 to replace or upgrade half its equipment.

At some of its worksites, it has constructed temporary footpaths for the use of area residents. Said its general manager Wong Bee Chin: "It costs money, but we've gotten a lot of letters of praise from residents."

BCA scheme to encourage gracious building practices
Wong Siew Ying Channel NewsAsia 28 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: More measures will be taken to encourage builders to adopt gracious construction practices, which help to address environmental concerns and mitigate inconveniences to the public caused by construction works.

Speaking at an industry event, Senior Minister of State for National Development and Trade and Industry Lee Yi Shyan said the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) will be enhancing its Green and Gracious Builder Scheme to place more emphasis on practices such as noise management and good human resource practices.

In addition, construction firms that are registered or intending to register with BCA's Contractors Registry for general or civil engineering works must first be certified under the Green and Gracious Builder Scheme.

BCA said 304 companies will have to be certified under the GGBS.

Mr Lee said this will be phased in from January 2015.

Since its launch in 2009, 70 builders have been certified under the scheme.

Mr Lee said: "Kajima Overseas Asia Pte Ltd used remote control wall saws and mini crushers during demolition works which reduce the impact of noise, dust and vibrations generated. China State Construction Engineering went beyond its call of duty and constructed a barrier-free access ramp for elderly citizens visiting a restaurant adjacent to its construction site. I urge all of you (builders) to adopt such socially-gracious efforts as part of your sustainable construction initiative."

Meanwhile, the BCA will also expand the scope of its Sustainable Construction Capability Development Fund (SC Fund) to support the development of Building Information Modelling (BIM) add-on tools.

The BIM add-on tools will aid in the computation of Concrete Usage Index, which forms part of the Sustainable Construction Score under BCA's Green Mark Scheme for buildings.

Mr Lee said this will help designers optimise designs to meet sustainable construction requirements.

Since 2010, BCA's S$15-million SC Fund has co-sponsored over 60 projects with a total committed amount of S$5.3 million.

Mr Lee added that BCA is developing the 3rd Green Building Masterplan to guide Singapore's green building journey over the next five to 10 years.

The Masterplan will outline a new vision for Singapore -- to be a global leader in green buildings with special expertise in the tropics and sub-tropics.

- CNA/gn/ac

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PUB steps up efforts to prepare for monsoon season

Monica Kotwani Channel NewsAsia 28 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: National water agency PUB has stepped up efforts to prepare for the upcoming Northeast Monsoon season.

According to the Meteorological Services Singapore (MSS), the rainfall this season is expected to be slightly above average compared to previous years.

Singapore is in the midst of the inter-monsoon season which is why heavy rain warnings and flash floods have been a common sight in various parts of the island over the past few weeks.

This could continue with the approaching Northeast Monsoon season in mid-November.

On average, there are usually 19 rainy days each in November and December, and 15 in January, according to the MSS. The numbers are expected to be slightly higher this season.

To prepare for this monsoon season and minimise the occurrences of flash floods, PUB has intensified inspections on some 100 construction sites around the island to check for drainage obstructions.

It has also replaced about 6,000 scupper holes drain inlets at flood prone areas with an improved design of Drop Inlet Chambers (DICs). Scupper holes are found on the side of the road, next to kerbs.

The modified DICs will have vertical gratings that will provide an additional opening to allow rainwater to be drained from the roads when the main horizontal gratings are partially blocked by leaves or other debris.

PUB has also been distributing flood advisories to about 500 residential units and shop-houses in flood-prone areas.

These monsoon preparations are on top of current measures to minimise and respond quickly to flash floods. These include real-time monitoring of water levels in drains and canals with its water level sensors and CCTVs.

Chew Men Leong, chief executive of PUB, said: "Despite our best efforts, I think it's not possible for us to eliminate flash floods.

"When there are flash floods, what we can do is to ensure that information flows to the public as quickly as possible through our multiple channels, through social media and also through the more traditional media like radio and (TV) broadcast.

"Through that, the community can be alerted to potential flash floods and incidents, and they should, of course, be prepared as much as they can to mitigate its impact. This will include avoiding the area where the flash flood has occurred."

As part of long-term efforts to improve flood protection, PUB will also carry out new drainage improvement projects at 36 locations around Singapore.

The Sungei Pandan Kechil canal is one of the 36 drainages to be identified for improvement works.

In September this year, heavy rain caused the canal to overflow and flood a section of the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE), resulting in the closure of the expressway for about 40 minutes.

The canal will be widened by about four metres and construction is expected to start in the first half of 2015.

In the meantime, PUB said it has enlarged the inlet and outlet points of waste-water pipes at AYE to improve the flow of water.

Tan Nguan Sen, director of catchment and waterways department at PUB, said careful planning is required in order to prevent disruptions.

"A lot of these projects are carried out in very developed areas… where you have major roads, and buildings next to canals. The challenge is how do you carry out the work within these constraints and how do you carry out the necessary road diversions to prevent disruptions to traffic," said Mr Tan.

The new projects include improvements to the Tampines Canal from Upper Serangoon Road to Sungei Serangoon, and the Pioneer sector outlet drain.

These are on top of PUB's ongoing drainage projects at 176 locations, including eight major canals.

Other projects include the Stamford Detention Tank, located near the junction of Tyersall Avenue and Tyersall Road. The undergound detention tank will be completed by 2016.

Upon completion, the detention tank will temporarily hold excess storm water from the drains along Holland Road, which is upstream of the Stamford Canal catchment.

After the rain subsides, the water will be pumped back into the drains for discharge into Marina Reservoir.

The tank has a storage capacity of 38,000 cubic metres or 15 Olympic-sized pools.

Besides the detention tank, PUB will be constructing the Stamford Diversion Canal to divert storm water from the upstream section of the Stamford Canal catchment to the Singapore River.

The work will be carried out in phases, with the first tender to be called in the last quarter of this year, and another in the first quarter of next year.

Work on the entire diversion canal is expected to be completed by 2017.

Also starting next year are drainage upgrading works at Alexandra Canal Subsidiary Drain between Tiong Bahru Road and Havelock Road, and at Siglap Canal between East Coast Expressway (ECP) and the sea.

- CNA/xq/fa

Monsoon may bring flash floods, says PUB
Government agencies unveil plans to reduce risks, with above-average rainfall expected
Woo Sian Boon Today Online 29 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — Singapore could be hit by flash floods when the annual north-east monsoon returns next month, as government agencies yesterday laid out plans to reduce the risk of them occurring and identified 36 areas where drainage will be improved.

Rainfall recorded at the Changi climate station during the current “inter-monsoon” season, which occurs around October and November, “is already above average” while there have been a few storms, said National Environment Agency Senior Meteorological Officer Chow Kwok Wah.

Flash floods were reported at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road after heavy rain in the eastern part of Singapore yesterday afternoon, causing traffic to be held up for over 20 minutes.

The authorities are predicting “slightly above-average rainfall and rainy days” for the north-east monsoon, which is expected to last from the middle of next month till March.

Said Mr Chow: “For rainfall in November, we are expecting slightly above-average rainfall. For the rest of the north-east monsoon season, we are expecting slightly-above average rainfall and rainy days.”

The authorities have warned that when heavy rain coincides with high tides, typically ranging from 3 to 3.4 metres, flash floods could take place in low-lying areas. In addition, there could be two to four episodes of monsoon surges, which will bring prolonged periods of moderate to heavy rain, lasting between two and five days. Singapore usually experiences about 20 days of rain this time of the year, with December and January typically the wettest months.

To minimise incidences of flash floods, national water agency PUB is working with the NEA’s Department of Public Cleanliness to step up drainage maintenance and monitoring to make sure drains are not blocked.

The PUB has also increased its weekly inspections at about 100 construction sites to three times a week to ensure drains are not obstructed. About 6,000 scupper holes and drain inlets — found by the side of roads — at flood areas and hotspots have been replaced with better-designed ones, which have additional vertical openings that enable rainwater to be drained should the main gratings be partially blocked.

To prepare the public for the rainy season, flood advisories have been distributed to 500 residential units and shophouses in flood-prone areas. The NEA will also issue advisories a few days ahead of the wet weather, while warnings will also be given a few hours before the onset of a downpour.

The 36 new locations slated for improvement included the Sungei Pandan Kechil canal, which overflowed after heavy rains hit many parts of western Singapore last month, leading to a shutdown of the Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) for 40 minutes during the morning peak-hour commute.

Giving an update on the project, PUB Director of Catchment and Waterways Tan Nguan Sen said the inlet and outlet points of the AYE culvert — which sees three drains meet in an intersection — have been widened to allow more water to pass.

The agency will also be calling a tender next month to install a temporary tidal gate near West Coast Road to create a storage area for run-off during heavy rains while preventing seawater from flowing into the canal. Longer-term measures to deepen and widen the canal will commence in 2015.

Apart from deepening and widening canals the PUB is building a “detention tank” to ease the load of the Stamford Canal.

Work on the detention tank, which has a capacity of 15 Olympic-sized pools and costs S$69.7 million to build, will commence at the end of the year and is expected to be completed in early 2016.

Constructed underground beneath a proposed nursery and coach park at Tyersall Avenue next to the Botanic Gardens, it will temporarily store excess stormwater from the existing drains along Holland Road.

The PUB is currently piloting a flood-forecast system in the Marina Catchment area, aimed at predicting flash floods and providing advanced warning. Drainage improvement works are also ongoing at 176 other locations islandwide.

PUB, NEA working to minimise flash floods during monsoon season
Measures include stepping up on drainage maintenance, intensifying inspections at about 100 construction worksites
Today Online 29 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — To minimise occurrences of flash floods during the upcoming Northeast Monsoon season, the PUB is working with the National Environment Agency to step up on drainage maintenance, and has intensified inspections at some 100 construction worksites around the island to check for obstructions in the drains.

In a statement issued today on the monsoon as well as updates on its drainage projects, the PUB also said it has replaced 6,000 scupper holes and drain inlets – found by the side of roads – at flood prone areas and hotspots with an improved design of Drop Inlet Chambers (DICs). These modified DICs have an additional vertical opening that will enable rainwater to be drained from the roads should the main horizontal gratings be partially blocked.

It has also distributed flood advisories to about 500 residential units and shop-houses in flood-prone areas, along with information on what precautions they could take to protect their belongings.

Meanwhile, the PUB will begin on new drainage improvement projects at 36 locations, adding to its on-going drainage projects at 176 locations around Singapore. These drainage improvement projects are part of its strategy to improve flood protection for Singapore.

More, and heavier, monsoon rains ahead
December and January rainfall could be up to 20% higher: Met Service
David Ee Straits Times 29 Oct 13;

KEEP your brolly handy - this coming monsoon season could be even wetter than normal.

The Meteorological Service Singapore (MSS) said yesterday that in-house weather models have predicted that total rainfall this coming December and January could be 10 per cent to 20 per cent above average.

This could mean more thunderstorms and rainy days.

Singapore's north-east monsoon season wet phase typically occurs between mid-November and January. Historical records show average monthly rainfall during those months at between 240mm and 300mm, with rain falling over about half of each month.

The south-west monsoon between June and September generally brings less rain.

Singapore is currently facing a "neutral phase" between the extreme El Nino and La Nina climate phenomena, said MSS senior meteorological officer Chow Kwok Wah.

Rainfall this time "may be comparable" to last year's north-east monsoon when similar conditions prevailed, he added. Then, a total of 572mm of rain fell in November and December, above the historical average of 554mm.

The La Nina phenomenon, a cooling of the tropical Pacific Ocean that occurs every three to four years, can bring heavier rainfall to South-east Asia.

With flood risks in mind, national water agency PUB has stepped up drainage maintenance efforts from once to three times a week. It will also inspect 100 construction sites to ensure nearby drains remain obstacle-free.

Longer-term, it is planning to improve drainage at 36 new locations, including eastern areas like Chai Chee Road and MacPherson Road, which were flooded this year. This adds to 176 drainage improvement works in progress.

Last month, flash floods hit western Singapore, temporarily shutting down the Ayer Rajah Expressway. Yesterday, heavy showers caused flash flooding at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road, which was closed to traffic at one point.

PUB chief executive Chew Men Leong said the agency is doing all it can to prepare for heavy rain. He added: "We are dealing with nature, which is a powerful force. Despite our best efforts, it is not possible for us to eliminate flash floods."

Businesses are also getting prepared. Italian restaurant Pasta Fresca da Salvatore, which experienced flooding outside its Bukit Timah premises in February, said it will rely on PUB flood alerts. If the flood poses any danger to customers and staff, it may close for the day.

At Rochester Mall, Pies & Coffee cafe manager Rizal Bahuri said: "Obviously I'm worried. If it floods, we won't make sales."

Heavy storms have become more frequent here over the last few decades. Preliminary findings by the National Environment Agency found global climate change may cause Singapore to become even hotter and wetter by the next century.

Additional reporting by Charissa Yong

Measures to fight the floods

PUB's measures to address the risk of flooding during the coming north-east monsoon and beyond include:


Intensify drainage maintenance efforts.
Distribute advisories on precautions to take, to about 500 residences in flood-prone areas.
Make more CCTV feeds showing road conditions available to the public.

Water level sensors in canals and drains to be increased from 158 to 198 by end-2014.
Increase drainage capacity. Improvement works are being made at more than 200 locations, including the widening of canals and building of detention tanks.

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