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Singapore's 800-hectare 'Long Island' project aims to address concerns of rising sea levels, inland flooding

Tidal gates and pumping stations are among plans to manage water levels and mitigate flood risks in low-lying East Coast area

New reservoir's view from Long Island, depicted by the artist.
New reservoir's view from Long Island, depicted by the artist. (PHOTO: Urban Redevelopment Authority)

SINGAPORE — Singapore is studying a significant transformation along its East Coast, with plans to reclaim three tracts of land known as Long Island.

Why the need for "Long Island"?

This endeavour spans approximately 800 hectares (ha) - twice the size of Marina Bay - and aims to address the threats posed by rising sea levels and inland flooding in the region.

The area's elevation, mostly less than five metres above the mean sea level, calls for proactive measures, especially considering projections that foresee sea levels reaching this height by the century's end, particularly during extreme high tides coupled with storm surges.

Minister for National Development Desmond Lee announced on Tuesday (28 November) that technical studies by public agencies for the Long Island project will kick off in early 2024 and span five years. These studies will pave the way for planning, design and development efforts expected to unfold over several decades.

The public will also be involved in consultations over the next few years to gather ideas for this extensive, multi-decade undertaking.

Transforming Singapore's East Coast

The proposed plan involves reclaiming three elongated stretches of land between Marina East and Tanah Merah, with a new reservoir bordered by East Coast Park and these new land masses.

This reservoir will include tidal gates and pumping stations to manage water levels and mitigate flood risks in the East Coast area. Singapore's national water agency, the Public Utilities Board (PUB), expects this to become the country's 18th reservoir.

Similar to the gates at Marina Barrage, those at the new reservoir will open to manage excess stormwater, releasing it into the sea during low tides and utilising pumps during high tides. With a catchment of around 5,000ha - half the size of Marina Reservoir - the new water body is intended to mitigate flooding and serve as a venue for water-based recreational activities such as canoeing and dragon-boating.

Minister Desmond Lee explains project's diverse advantages: flood protection, enhancing freshwater supply, and fulfilling future development requirements.
Minister Desmond Lee explains project's diverse advantages: flood protection, enhancing freshwater supply, and fulfilling future development requirements. (PHOTO: Urban Redevelopment Authority)

Residential, Industrial zones, and connectivity vision

The project also involves the creation of waterfront homes, amenities, industrial facilities and an extensive addition of approximately 20km of coastal and reservoir parks, significantly expanding the length of the current East Coast waterfront parks area.

The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) envisions residential districts with amenities such as sports and recreation infrastructure, as well as potential industrial zones likely situated nearer to Changi Airport.

Decisions on public transport networks, potential MRT extensions and their integration will be contingent on determining the new land's residential capacity and considering future developments such as the upcoming town in Paya Lebar post-airbase relocation in the 2030s.

History and future vision

The upcoming technical studies aim to determine the precise size and shape of the reclaimed land tracts. These studies will also evaluate trade-offs, costs, environmental impacts and implications on maritime activities in Singapore's eastern anchorages.

Detailed planning for specific land uses is slated to occur towards the end of the five-year study period, pending smooth progress.

Plans for reclamation in the East Coast area date back to 1991 under the URA's Concept Plan, envisioning reclaimed islands to accommodate housing and recreational opportunities. Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong further emphasised this concept during the 2019 National Day Rally, envisioning a series of offshore islands linked by barrages for flood protection and a freshwater reservoir.

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