New study to explore feasibility of storm surge barriers along Singapore's south-west coast: PUB

SINGAPORE – To better protect parts of Singapore’s coastline from extreme sea-level events, barriers resembling large metal “arms” could be deployed in the future.

Storm surge barriers have been successfully utilised in countries such as the Netherlands to protect areas from flooding. Hinged on the coast, they “hug” the coastline to allow ships to pass, but can swing outwards in the open waters before extreme high tide events hit.

National water agency PUB is studying the feasibility of deploying such structures to protect Singapore’s south-western coastline from storm surges – higher-than-usual tides caused by storms brewing offshore.

With mean sea levels expected to rise due to climate change, storm surges could contribute to extreme sea level events and cause coastal flooding in low-lying areas.

The local coastline is vulnerable to storm surges at varying degrees, depending on the orientation of the coast, depth of water, wind speed and tide levels.

The south-western coast supports various waterfront activities, including offshore and marine, logistics, and the energy and chemical sector, said Ms Hazel Khoo, director of PUB’s Coastal Protection Department, on Wednesday (March 16) in response to queries from The Straits Times.

“Coastal barriers could be an effective solution against extreme sea level rise and will be assessed to ensure that our maritime traffic and operational activities of the waterfront industries are not adversely affected,” she added.

PUB called for a tender last Friday (March 11) to study the feasibility of coastal barriers, such as storm surge barriers, and raising the ground level of mainland industrial estates as an alternative solution.

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The narrow channel of water between the south-western coastline of mainland Singapore and Jurong Island makes the deployment of storm surge barriers feasible, as they could fully enclose the channel as needed and be left open for sea craft to pass through otherwise.

The study will examine three areas: the northern coast of Jurong Island, the Jurong coastal area including West Coast Park and Pasir Panjang Terminal, and part of Tuas, which includes the Tuas Water Reclamation Plant and various shipping yards.

Other than storm surge barriers, the study will also look into barrages – dam-like structures – with navigational locks.

These locks are openings that allow ships and other sea-going vessels to pass through, but can be shut to protect against high tides and storm surges.

Barrages such as Singapore’s Marina Barrage, on the other hand, are permanent barriers with gates that can be opened to discharge excess stormwater. They can also be equipped with navigational locks to allow vessel movements between two bodies with different water levels.

The study will also include preliminary analysis on various coastal adaptation solutions, including the possibility of raising the ground levels of JTC’s estates during redevelopment. By studying this option, PUB will be able to determine the extent of protection it could provide.

Singapore has already moved to protect itself from future sea-level rise, by lifting upcoming infrastructure such as the Tuas Port by 5m above mean sea level rise.


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