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Entertainment, Food & Beverage

Walk on water

MacRitchie's new boardwalk lets visitors get their feet wet while enjoying a new water landscape
The Straits Times - October 8, 2011
By: Tay Suan Chiang
| More
Walk on water The iconic zig-zag bridge has been restored, with its steel structure and timber decks replaced with new ones.

Get ready to walk on water at MacRitchie Reservoir.

From next Wednesday, visitors can get their feet wet at a newly constructed submerged boardwalk.

The 40m-long boardwalk is one of the new features completed under the $5-million, Phase 2 revamp of Singapore's oldest reservoir. It will be opened officially on Tuesday by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources.

The first phase, which was completed in 2009 at a cost of $12 million, saw the opening of a new two-storey carpark, a larger kayaking pontoon, an amenities centre equipped with open-air showers and a food-and- beverage kiosk as well as an exercise warm-up area.

'We started with the improvement of infrastructure at the entrance of the park,' says Mr Sam Ow, assistant director of best sourcing department at PUB, the authority in charge of Singapore's waterways.

'For Phase 2, the improvements are at the inner parts of MacRitchie Reservoir Park, but the nature reserve area will be left untouched.'

MacRitchie Reservoir's revamp is part of PUB's Active, Beautiful, Clean (ABC) Waters programme, which was introduced in 2007. Under the scheme, utilitarian drains, canals and reservoirs are turned into beautiful and clean streams and lakes.

So far, 15 such projects have been completed, such as at Alexandra Canal, Bedok Reservoir and Kallang River. PUB will implement more than 100 such projects islandwide in the next 15 to 20 years.

When Life! visited the submerged boardwalk on Thursday, workers were putting the final touches to it. The boardwalk is the first of its kind under the ABC Waters Programme.

The water looks murky, due to the sand bed underneath the boardwalk, but Mr Ow reassures that it is clean.

The maximum depth of the water on the boardwalk is just 50mm, making it safe for all visitors, regardless of age.

The structure is made of a special material that resembles wood and is sturdier than natural timber.

Visitors who want to walk on water should remember to go in flip-flops or take along a towel to dry their feet after.

Just by the side of the boardwalk is a water landscape area, which serves more than just to beautify the reservoir.

It has water plants such as the Beach Morning Glory and Pigweed, which help to purify the water in the reservoir by filtering out sediment.

There are also dykes and reed beds, which filter out rainwater from the surrounding pavements before they flow into the reservoir. Larger sediments in the water are allowed to settle while the plants on the reed beds absorb the pollutants, so cleaner water flows into the reservoir.

Visitors to the reservoir may also notice that the iconic bandstand and zig-zag bridge have a new look. These two structures were given conservation status by the Urban Redevelopment Authority in 2009.

Mr Ow explains that these two structures could not be removed, so they were restored instead. This included replacing the bridge's steel structure and timber decks with new ones, as well as installing new lighting and a better sound system for the bandstand.

'But as some of the timber decks were still in fairly good condition, we decided to recycle them,' he says.

The timber strips were then used to make new benches as well as a covered walkway in the park.

Foodies may also be happy to hear that there is a new food-and-beverage area on top of the hill in MacRitchie.

There used to be a cafe on this spot but as it was too run-down, PUB decided to tear it down and build a new one. The 500 sq m F&B area consists of an indoor, air-conditioned dining section and an alfresco space.

Local firm Design International Architects designed this F&B area together with the carpark and the amenities centre. PUB is in the midst of appointing a managing agent to run the F&B area.

'It is likely to be a restaurant here,' says Mr Ow, adding that it is expected to be operational by the first quarter of next year.

The F&B area comes with full-height glass windows, so that diners can look out onto the reservoir. It will also have a glass roof 'so diners can dine under the stars', says Mr Ow.

As there are mature trees surrounding the F&B area, the architects had to design the building around the trees. 'We didn't want any disturbance to the trees and their roots,' says Mr Ow.

A new ramp, located near the carpark, will allow barrier-free access to the F&B area.

Access to a lesser-known spot in the park, the Lim Bo Seng Tomb, has also been improved. The World War II hero was buried here in 1946. Before the revamp, there was a pathway that led to the back of the tomb.

That has been removed and a new pathway leading to the front of the tomb is in place. There are also new information panels on Major-General Lim near the tomb.

Other improvements to the park include a new building for the storage of canoes and kayaks.

'The old boat kiosk had a leaky zinc roof,' says Mr Ow. 'This new storage area is bigger than the previous one, too.'

With the revamp completed, he hopes that 'all visitors will like the new environment as we have beautified the surroundings'.

Retiree Michael Loh, who goes jogging at MacRitchie Reservoir every morning, is looking forward to checking out the new features.

'It will be fun to walk on water with my grandson and jogging at the park will be a more enjoyable experience,' he says.



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