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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Flash floods hit Chai Chee after heavy downpour

Nur Asyiqin Mohamad Salleh Straits Times 28 Oct 13;

Flash floods hit Chai Chee on Monday afternoon after a heavy downpour, leaving some vehicles stranded. The flood at the junction of New Upper Changi Road and Chai Chee Road made the roads, at one point, impassable to traffic.

National water agency PUB put out a warning about the floods on their Twitter page.

The waters subsided in half an hour. By 5 pm, the road was once more passable to traffic.

The National Environment Agency had issued a heavy rain warning earlier in the day, at around 3 pm, cautioning that moderate to heavy thundery showers would hit many areas of Singapore.

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Sembcorp triples energy-from-waste capacity on Jurong Island

Channel NewsAsia 28 Oct 13l

SINGAPORE: Sembcorp Industries said it has tripled its energy-from-waste capacity on Jurong Island with the expansion of its woodchip boiler renewable energy plant.

The plant is fuelled by woodchip processed from construction and demolition waste, collected by its solid waste management operations.

In a statement on Monday, Sembcorp said the expanded plant is expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by about 70,000 tonnes a year.

The company said the S$30-million expansion is in line with its strategy to grow its green energy capacity in Singapore.

Since the start of its operation, the company said the plant has provided a cheaper and more environmentally-friendly source of steam for petrochemical manufacturers in Sakra on Jurong Island.

- CNA/xq

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Dengue cases on the increase

Channel NewsAsia 28 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE: The latest numbers from the National Environment Agency (NEA) show that there were 496 dengue cases reported from October 20-26.

This was a sharp increase from the previous week, when 374 cases were reported from October 13-19.

Since the beginning of the year, there have been 18,643 dengue cases reported.

Last week, the NEA declared the Orchard Road area a red zone for dengue after more than 18 cases were reported there.

As of Monday, there were 46 cases.

- CNA/ec

Almost 500 cases of dengue last week
Straits Times 30 Oct 13;

THE start of the rainy season has brought with it a surge in dengue cases.

Almost 500 cases were reported last week, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a press release yesterday.

This latest figure also points to a larger trend seen since early this month, when mosquito breeding in homes increased by 15 per cent.

The situation is even graver in construction sites, with a 30 per cent climb in dengue cases during the same period.

The NEA attributes the upward trend to the start of the rainy season, when there would be more pockets of stagnant water.

This year, up till Oct 5, 34 contractors overseeing construction sites with multiple breeding habitats and poor sanitation and hygiene practices have been charged in court.

Additionally, 20 contractors have been penalised with fines which total $1.3 million.

"NEA has been working in partnership with the Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL) to educate and disseminate advisories to their members on mosquito control measures in worksites," said an NEA spokesman.

The agency has carried out more than four million home inspections and over 9,000 construction site checks for dengue-inducing habitats.

"Increased fines and court prosecutions cannot be the primary solution.

"Consequently, we need increased vigilance by everyone to eliminate mosquito breeding," added the spokesman.

The NEA also reminds residents to remember to "mosquito proof" their homes before leaving for vacations abroad.


Rainy season could have caused spike in dengue cases: NEA
Today Online 30 Oct 13;

SINGAPORE — The onset of the rainy season could have caused an increase in the incidence of dengue, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) today (Oct 29).

The NEA said detected a 15 per cent increase in the number of cases of mosquito breeding in homes and a 30 per cent increase in construction sites early this month. Last week, 496 dengue cases were reported, a sharp increase from the previous week’s 374 cases.

As of Oct 5, the NEA has carried out more than four million inspections in homes and over 9,000 inspections in construction sites. Thirty-four contractors have been charged in court, and 20 contractors have been penalised with fines totalling S$1.3 million.

THe NEA said it has also issued 18 Stop Work Orders at sites with multiple breeding habitats and poor housekeeping practices.

“In view of the deteriorating situation, NEA will step up enforcement actions against errant contractors. NEA will work with the Singapore Contractors Association Limited (SCAL) to implement appropriate mosquito control regimes within construction sites,” added the agency.

The NEA also urged members of the public to be vigilant in preventing mosquito breeding in their homes, worksites and neighbourhoods.

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Malaysia: New raw water rate for Singapore

Sim Bak Heng New Straits Times 29 Oct 13;

A-G'S CHAMBERS STUDY: Price to be known by year-end

JOHOR BARU: MALAYSIA is confident of coming up with a new price for raw water sold to Singapore by year-end. The Attorney-General's Chambers is studying the legal aspect of the raw water agreement inked between the two countries more than five decades ago.

Once it is completed, the Johor government will propose a new rate to the Federal Government, which will discuss the rate with Singapore and reach a consensus on the new rate.

State Public Works, Rural and Regional Development Committee chairman Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the state exco had discussed and raised the matter with the Federal Government in August.

He said during an exco meeting in July, it had revisited an intention raised in 2004, which was to hike the price of raw water as the current rate was too low.

He said the state government would not be directly involved in the bilateral talks between the two countries, but would only propose the new rate.

"The Federal Government and Singapore will come up with a consensus on an agreeable rate for both parties," he told the New Straits Times here yesterday.

Johor sells raw water at three sen per 1,000 gallons to Singapore. During former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's time, it was proposed that the rate be raised to 60 sen per 1,000 gallons.

Hasni said raising the price of raw water was long overdue and Malaysia had been doing a social service by selling raw water to Singapore at a low rate for too many years.

"The new rate will reflect the actual price of raw water. We hope to come up with a new rate by the end of the year."

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Indonesia: Demands to Scrutinize Forestry Crimes

Novianti Setuningsih Jakarta Globe 29 Oct 13;

An antigraft watchdog has urged Indonesian law enforcement institutions to strengthen their fight against crimes in the nation’s forestry sector.

The call came after Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) released a report that showed potential state losses from such crimes totaling Rp 691 trillion ($62 billion) between 2011 and 2012.

Lalola Estele, a researcher with ICW, said the total losses had been calculated from 124 cases of forest crimes recorded by the watchdog from 2011 to 2012.

“The crimes vary from forest conversion, for example the one million hectares of palm oil projects. The second is the illegal use of forest products. The third is tax evasion, for example in the case of Asian Agri,” Lalola said at the ICW headquarters in Jakarta on Sunday.

Lalola emphasized that the problem pointed to the weak law enforcement efforts in charging the corporations involved in the foul play.

According to the organization, of the 124 cases, police had only charged 37 field operators in 20 cases, and a small percentage of company directors and legislators from the House of Representatives in six of the cases.

As such, ICW called on Indonesia’s law enforcement institutions to implement the money laundering law and the anti-corruption law in charging companies, which would make the companies and not just their officials liable to criminal charges.

“The forestry and plantation law doesn’t recognize the act of charging a corporation. That’s why most of those who are charged are individual actors in the field and not the companies,” Lalola said.

ICW’s report reflects the grim reality of prevalent crime in the nation’s forestry industry over recent years.

In August, the University of Indonesia branch of the People For Indonesian Judicial System (MAPPI) organization claimed that potential state losses in a corruption case involving Burhanuddin Husin, the former head of Kampar district in Riau province and the former chief of Riau’s forestry office, could reach up to Rp 687 trillion.

Burhanuddin was found guilty in October 2012 and sentenced to two years and six months in prison, in addition to Rp 100 million worth of fines, for practices of corruption in approving annual working plans for 14 companies in Pelalawan and Siak subdistricts during his time in office between 2005 and 2006.

The court had deemed the licenses invalid as they failed to comply with Forestry Ministry policies because they included swaths of natural forest.

According to Muslim Rasyid, coordinator of the Riau Forest-Saving Network (Jikalahari), the approval of the companies’ permits had subsequently resulted in the deforestation of 38,357 hectares of land, which, with thorough calculations, could see up to Rp 687 trillion of wasted state losses. That amounts to more than the Rp 519 billion calculated by prosecutors from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Burhanuddin’s case.

Meanwhile, in June, the names of several high-profile public officials surfaced in a forestry corruption case in West Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and South Sumatra, which allegedly cost Rp 1.92 trillion worth of potential state losses.

“Three ministers [are said to be involved], as well as five other regional chiefs or former regional chiefs, one ministerial adviser, one regional government adviser and six company directors,” Tama S. Langkun from the Anti-Judicial Mafia Coalition, who is also director of investigation with the ICW, said in June.

However, Tama refused to disclose the names of the 16 individuals involved in the case, but promised to submit the list of names to the KPK.

“We will guarantee that these names will be submitted to the KPK,” he said, as quoted by

The 16 individuals are alleged to be involved in five different cases of corruption, including an alleged corruption case at a state-run sugar cane plantation in South Sumatra with Rp 4.8 billion worth of potential state losses, as well as alleged corruption in the conversion of forest areas into oil palm plantation in Kapuas Hulu district in West Kalimantan, with potential state losses of up to Rp 108.9 billion.

Separately, a case of illegal logging activities also surfaced earlier this year, involving low-ranking police officer First Insp. Labora Sitorus from West Papua’s Sorong district, which further damaged the police’s efforts against forest crimes.

Labora was arrested in May after police revealed that the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK), the government’s anti-money-laundering watchdog, had traced transactions worth Rp 1.5 trillion ($134.8 million) passing through his bank accounts between 2007 and 2012.

The money was believed to be linked to his alleged fuel smuggling and illegal logging activities, for which evidence included 115 shipping containers bound for China — traced to one of Labora’s companies, Rotua — holding a total of 2,264 cubic meters of merbau wood, a rare hardwood prohibited for commercial logging and for export as rough-sawn timber.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) earlier in May released video footage of illegal loggers harvesting merbau and other species for Rotua from forests on Batanta Island in the Raja Ampat district of West Papua, an ecologically important area with high levels of plant and animal biodiversity.

Rotua has also been reported for receiving timber from the forests of Sorong, Bintuni and other regions of West Papua, the EIA said.

According to the EIA, Labora’s network transferred approximately $100,000 to the National Police headquarters in Jakarta and a similar sum to the Papua province police chief.

The use of the money laundering law in fighting crime in the nation’s forestry sector is considered important as such practices are often used to clean up the trail of dirty money, according to ICW.

“Many of the business licenses issued in the forestry sector involve corruption, and the results from such practices would get cleaned up through money laundering,” Lalola said.

She highlighted that in the case of Burhanuddin, the court’s failure to charge the companies involved had resulted in an inadequate seizure of assets.

“Institutional crime policies have existed in Indonesia since the 1950s and are regulated in the anti-corruption law, money laundering law and others, but law enforcement officers remain reluctant in using them,” she said.

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