NEWater and New Earth?

Our NEWater is an inspiring story of how we overcome a shortage challenge, through an innovative way to reduce, reuse and recycle used water.

There is another less well-known story of how recycle excavated materials from our construction sites into a useful construction resource.

Last year, 8.5mil m3 of materials were excavated to build basement carparks and shops, underground expressways, and MRT tunnels – this is equivalent to about 3,400 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Two main types of material are dug up – soft clay and good earth – depending on the location and technique of excavation.

With many infrastructure and development projects taking place in Singapore, the construction industry is generating a significant quantity of soft clay and good earth.  Some good earth is reused by the construction industry for their projects.  What do we do with the rest of the materials, especially soft clay?

How excavated material is reused as reclamation fill

When properly treated, both soft clay and good earth can be used for land reclamation.  Lorries transport these excavated materials from construction sites to staging grounds at our coast.  There, they are loaded onto barges, which move them to our various land reclamation sites for use as fill material.

We have strict environmental controls and monitoring to ensure that this dumping activity does not pollute the environment. For example, we use silt curtains at the work sites to contain the sediment. The material also needs to be treated and left to settle for a while, before it becomes usable land.

Currently, excavated material from the private construction industry is received at the Changi Staging Ground for transport to Pulau Tekong, where we reuse these materials for reclamation.

Earlier this year, lorry queues at the Changi Staging Ground have grown longer. Some MPs have observed this and raised it in Parliament.

The reason was that there was a spike in the amount of material generated by the construction industry causing a bottle neck at the Changi Staging Ground.  A number of large construction projects such as South Beach Development at Beach Road, our fourth university the SUTD, the Singapore Sports Hub, the National Art Gallery with deep excavations came on-stream at the same time.

To increase the handling capacity of the Changi Staging Ground, we have extended the operating hours, added more weigh-bridges, built a stockpile pit, and also worked with contractors to spread out their deliveries to off-peak hours.  These efforts were underway, and the current congestion problem should ease.

In most countries, excavated material is dumped on land – this takes up precious space and is also unsightly.  In Singapore, we have a better way to manage such material.  We use unwanted excavated clay and earth to reclaim and create new land.  This is a sort of new earth.

Soft clay stockpile pit for lorries to discharge their materials during the peak hours, for temporary storage. The material is subsequently loaded onto barges.

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