Bedok Reservoir, located off Reservoir Road in Bedok, was one of the two reservoirs built by the Public Utilities Board (PUB) as part of its Sungei Seletar/Bedok Water Scheme.1 Construction work for the scheme began in 1983 and was completed in 1986 at a cost of S$277 million.2 The reservoir has a surface area of 88 ha.3
The Sungei Seletar/Bedok Water Scheme was initiated primarily to meet the increasing demand for fresh water in the eastern parts of Singapore.4 Under this scheme, storm water collected from urban catchments would be the main source of raw water, unlike earlier water schemes.5
Planning work began as early as 10 to 15 years before actual construction. This included putting land-use guidelines in place to protect the designated catchment areas from activities, such as farming, that could pollute the reservoir basin.6
The scheme encompasses two reservoirs, a water treatment plant and nine storm water collection stations. A dam was built across the mouth of Sungei Seletar to form the Sungei Seletar Reservoir (now called Lower Seletar Reservoir). At the same time, a large sand quarry, formerly used by the Housing and Development Board, was converted into the Bedok Reservoir.7
Bedok Reservoir was designed as a collection point for storm water gathered from nine catchment areas in Bedok, Tampines and Yan Kit. Eight catchments were equipped with a collection pond and a pumping station to pump storm water from the pond into the reservoir via a pipeline. Water from the ninth catchment was transferred to the reservoir through a gravity-flow diversion channel.8
A water treatment plant, Bedok Waterworks, was built about 400 m west of Bedok Reservoir to treat the water from Sungei Seletar Reservoir and Bedok Reservoir as part of the water scheme. Two pumping stations and 17 km of pipelines facilitated the transfer of raw water from Sungei Seletar Reservoir to Bedok Reservoir and then to the treatment plant. The latter had an initial daily treatment capacity of 136,000 cu m.9
Bedok Reservoir was one of the first reservoirs to be upgraded and made more conducive for recreational activities under the PUB’s Active, Beautiful and Clean Waters programme. Launched in May 2006, this programme aims to keep Singapore’s waterways and reservoirs clean, aesthetically pleasing and bustling with activities.10 It is part of the PUB’s strategy to draw more visitors to the reservoirs and create awareness about the use and protection of Singapore’s water resources.11 The upgrading works at Bedok Reservoir included installing more street lamps, planting more trees, enhancing pedestrian access, and building a fishing deck and a slipway pontoon for boats and kayaks.12 Water sports was also launched by then Minister of Foreign Affairs and Member of Parliament for Aljunied, George Yeo, at the reservoir on 17 October 2004.13
Today, the reservoir and its surrounding park are popular with water-sport and fishing enthusiasts, cyclists, inline skaters, joggers and picnickers.14 In addition to water-sport competitions such as the Wakeboard World Cup and the SAVA Sprints International dragon boat race, Bedok Reservoir is also a venue for various land-based events.15 Forest Adventure, Singapore’s first tree-top adventure course, opened in Bedok Reservoir Park in 2007 and features zip lines over the waters of the reservoir.16 In 2008, Dutch theatre group The Lunatics staged a performance titled Hydro Sapiens at the reservoir as part of the Singapore Arts Festival’s closing celebrations.17 During the 28th Southeast Asian Games held in Singapore in June 2015, Bedok Reservoir served as the venue for the water-skiing and wakeboarding events.18
Spate of drowning incidents
Between 2011 and 2012, several incidences of deaths at the reservoir were reported. On 20 June 2011, the first case was discovered with highly decomposed remains of a man in the waters. The incidences prompted the PUB to increase patrols and install closed-circuit cameras around the reservoir. A prayer session by the Inter-Religious Organisation was also held on 5 November 2011 to bless the reservoir.19
Feb 1981: Messrs Camp, Dresser and McKee, the external consultant hired for the scheme, completes its feasibility study and begins designing and preparing the contract drawings.20
Nov 1981: Earthworks for the water treatment plant commence.21
Aug 1986: Construction of the scheme is completed. Bedok Waterworks begins distributing its treated water to consumers on 15 August.22
Oct 2004: Minister for the Environment and Water Resources, Yaacob Ibrahim, announces plans to introduce more recreational activities at selected reservoirs, including Bedok Reservoir.23
Aug 2005: Temasek Polytechnic adopts the reservoir as part of the PUB’s Our Waters programme to involve individuals and groups in caring for Singapore’s water bodies.24
Nov 2005: Plan to enhance Bedok Reservoir is unveiled.25
Regina De Rozario
1. “No More Just a Hole in the Ground,” Straits Times, 13 November 1983, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
2. M. F. Lee, “The Sungei Seletar/Bedok Water Scheme,” PUB Digest, 3 (June, 1985), 26 (Call no. RSING 354.59570087 PUBD); Public Utilities Board Singapore, Annual Report 1986 (Singapore: Public Utilities Board, 1987), 3. (Call no. RCLOS 354.59570087 SPUB-[AR])
3. Imran Jalal, “Bedok Boon,” Straits Times, 23 October 2009, 141. (From NewspaperSG)
4. “Water for the East,” Straits Times, 22 September 1983, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
5. Tan Yong Soon, Lee Tung Jean and Karen Tan, Clean, Green and Blue: Singapore’s Journey Towards Environmental and Water Sustainability (Singapore: ISEAS Publishing, 2009), 132. (Call no. RSING 363.70095957 TAN)
6. Tan, Lee and Tan, Clean, Green and Blue, 133.
7. Public Utilities Board, Singapore’s Water Supply (Singapore: Public Utilities Board), 5 (Call no. RSING 628.1095957 SIN); “Two Proposed Reservoirs to Be Linked,” Straits Times, 18 August 1980, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
8. Lee, “The Sungei Seletar/Bedok Water Scheme,” 28.
9. Lee, “The Sungei Seletar/Bedok Water Scheme,” 30.
10. “Bedok Reservoir First to Be Upgraded,” Waternet (December 2005–January 2006), 8 (Call no. RSING q363.61095957 W); “$23M River, Reservoir Upgrade,” New Paper, 30 May 2006, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Tan Nguen Sen, “Reservoir Not Losing Greenery,” Straits Times, 29 July 2007, 46. (From NewspaperSG)
12. “Bedok Reservoir First to Be Upgraded,” 8.
13. Jose Raymond, “Minister: Bedok Reservoir Should Be a Playground,” Today, 18 October 2004, 6; “School, Poly First to Use Reservoir for Water Sports,” Straits Times, 18 October 2004, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
14. “Explore Bedok Reservoir,” Public Utilities Board, accessed 21 October 2016.
15. Terrence Voon, “From Tragedy to Triumph at Bedok,” Straits Times, 24 September 2007, 39; Darren Lai, “Dragon Boat Race to Grow,” Today, 10 October 2995, 61. (From NewspaperSG)
16. Cheah Ui-Hoon, “View from the Treetop,” Business Times, 16 January 2009, 25; Jen Wu, “Swinging for Fun,” Straits Times, 20 January 2013, 20. (From NewspaperSG)
17. Sangeetha Madhavan, “Hydro Visual Treat at Bedok Reservoir,” Business Times, 21 June 2008, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
18. Haiqal Sari, “Time to Make History,” New Paper, 12 May 2015, 12–13; “Waterski & Wakeboard,” New Paper, 12 May 2015, 12–13. (From NewspaperSG)
19. Benson Ang, “Places with a Dark Past,” Straits Times, 10 January 2016, 4–5; Jalelah Abu Bakar, “Lower Half of Body Found in Bedok Reservoir,” Straits Times, 21 June 2011, 9; Royston Sim, “Religious Groups Pray at Reservoir,” Straits Times, 6 November 2011, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
20. Public Utilities Board Singapore, Annual Report 1981 (Singapore: Public Utilities Board, 1982), 25. (Call no. RCLOS 354.59570087 SPUB-[AR])
21. Public Utilities Board Singapore, Annual Report 1982 (Singapore: Public Utilities Board, 1983), 25. (Call no. RCLOS 354.59570087 SPUB-[AR])
22. Public Utilities Board Singapore, Annual Report 1986, 21.
23. “Water Sports in Store at 8 Reservoirs,” Straits Times, 10 October 2004, 12. (From NewspaperSG)
24. “Watermark Award: Recognising Outstanding Water Contributions, 15, accessed 21 October 2016.
25. Leslie Koh, “$1M Makeover at Bedok Reservoir,” Straits Times, 6 November 2005, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
The information in this article is valid as at July 2021 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.
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