July 7, 2022

Parts of Western Catchment forest to be cleared for expansion of water plant

By brit

SINGAPORE – Parts of the Western Catchment forest near the Nanyang Technological University will be cleared for the expansion of a water treatment plant, a move that will impact wildlife there.

The area has one of the largest and most biodiverse secondary forests in Singapore.

National water agency PUB said the upgrading of the aged Choa Chu Kang Waterworks, which is the only plant supplying treated reservoir water to the western part of Singapore, is vital for the nation’s water security.

It added that it will take steps to reduce the impact on wildlife. Work to clear the forest is expected to start next year.

About 3.2ha of vegetation south of the existing site will be cleared for the expansion of the plant, which dates back to 1975. This is equivalent to the size of about six football fields.

An environmental impact assessment (EIA) for the project was completed at the end of last year.

Members of the nature community in Singapore were consulted by PUB in March this year, and the report was published on PUB’s website on Monday evening (July 4).

The report, by sustainability consultancy firm Tembusu Asia Consulting, said the works are expected to negatively impact the flora and fauna in the Western Catchment forest.

The entire Western Catchment area, which houses a number of reservoirs and is also used by the military, is bound by Tuas in the south, the Johor Strait in the west, Lim Chu Kang to its north and Tengah to its east.

Wildlife in the area include the fern Helminthostachys zeylanica, which was found for the first time in Singapore during the biodiversity surveys done as part of the EIA.

The affected plot is also home to critically endangered Sunda pangolins and straw-headed bulbuls.

Two freshwater forest streams, considered rare habitats in Singapore, will also be affected by the works, said the report.

Surveys had shown that the streams are home to the critically endangered elf dragonfly. The Johnson’s freshwater crab – a species found nowhere else in the world – has also been recorded in the streams there.