The Kallang cleanup is a unique cleanup site for two reasons – with the Marina Barrage in place, Kallang Basin is cut off from the sea and this is no longer tidal. Instead the water level is controlled by the Public Utilities Board (PUB). Also the site is closest to the city center so participants work against an urban backdop of condominiums, the Benjamin Henry Sheare’s Bridge and the Singapore Flyer.
Coordination work here is easy because co-organiser Waterways Watch Society (WWS) is the area’s long-time environmental stalwart. Four organisations tackled Kallang – the German European School of Singapore (GESS), Compassvale Secondary School, Ministry of Environment and Water Resources (MEWR) and NTU Earthlink.
PUB lowered the water level at 8am to provide a “low tide” so most of the teams started bright and early at 8am so that they could access the trash which would otherwise have been submerged.
GESS and Compassvale Secondary School headed for the long sandy beach of Marina Promenade and the enthusiastic students plunged into action immediately. Asked about the trash she found, a student answered “Lots of plastic!” – indeed, plastic is by far and large the most common item found here. A steady stream of plastic bags, straws, and food wrappers were picked and bagged. This load was probably washed in from areas other than the Promenade itself as it was too much to have come from one site!
NTU Earthlink’s older students handled the muddiest patch in the basin – Kallang Riverside Park. Amidst all that muddy work, the undergraduates uncovered the carcasses of two horseshoe crabs.
Meanwhile MEWR’s smallest group attended to small patches of coast around the WWS headquarters.
Participants saw for themselves the type and amount of urban trash entering our rivers that reach and impact our coastal and marine environments – with plastic items contributing the largest load. In Kallang, tired participants were left with some food for thought – the accumulated trash load from years of indiscriminate disposal of litter now plagues the river basin we reclaimed for a freshwater supply. It’s going to be a long journey to rehabilitating this precious resource and ICCS volunteers will make their small contribution to the effort annually.
Ng Kai Scene
South Zone Coordinator
International Coastal Cleanup Singapore