New flood protection devices on trial to enhance flood operations

With the northeast monsoon looming around the corner, PUB officers have started making their rounds on the ground with flood advisories, informing residents on how to protect their premises and keep safe during floods. This year, they come armed with two new flood protection devices – the Portable Flood Barriers (PFBs) and the Dam Easy Flood Panels (DFPs) that can be easily deployed in the event of floods.

These are new devices that national water agency PUB is trying out in its efforts to protect residents and roads from flash floods during the rainy season. The northeast monsoon is expected to set in over Singapore from the second half of November 2019 and extend into March 2020. The first two months of the monsoon season typically brings frequent and heavy thundery showers. Flash floods may occur if the intense rainfall temporarily overwhelms the drainage system.

Mr Yeo Keng Soon, PUB Director of Catchment and Waterways, said, “PUB takes a holistic approach to manage storm water and reduce flood risk, and cope with more intense and frequent storms due to effects of climate change. These include upgrading drains and canals, installing detention tanks and flood barriers at buildings, and raising entrance levels to underground facilities, to contain and slow down the flow of storm water.”

“On top of this, we actively source for new solutions to protect residents and businesses in flood prone areas. The flood barriers complement our suite of existing measures and we will continue to seek out new solutions and technologies that can strengthen our flood protection capabilities.”

Flood panels for homes
The Dam Easy Flood Panels (DFPs) are installed at doorways to prevent floodwaters from entering the home. Its side panels can be extended in five minutes to inflate a watertight seal around the barrier, without the need for tools or fixings that can damage doorways, unlike conventional flood panels.

PUB has purchased of 20 sets of flood panels to be loaned out to homes and businesses in flood-prone and low-lying areas in eastern and central Singapore. These are localised areas where conventional measures to alleviate floods like raising roads and platform levels are not feasible due to low-lying existing developments. The units receiving the DFPs were selected based on the suitability of their premises, doorway size and doorframe type. After the monsoon season, PUB will gather feedback from residents and users to evaluate the usability of the flood panels.

Portable flood barriers to divert floodwaters
In the event of heavy rain, PUB’s Quick Response Team vehicles are activated to respond quickly to flash floods and keep pedestrians and road users out of harm’s way. The vehicles are now equipped with PFBs, which can help divert floodwaters and confine floodwaters to the inner lanes so that traffic remains passable.

PFBs are lightweight and self-anchoring, allowing PUB officers to quickly deploy them in the field. PUB is also exploring the potential use of PFBs at construction sites for temporary diversion of storm water to facilitate construction activities (see Annex A for more information on PFBs and DFBs).

Working with agencies, Town Councils and building owners
It is important for everyone to be aware and prepared for the possibility of a flood. During this period, PUB steps up engagement efforts on the ground to remind all stakeholders about maintaining the drainage network, to ensure that the drains are free-flowing at all times.  

Reminders have been sent to all public agencies, Town Councils, and some 4,000 building owners and managing agents to carry out inspections and maintenance works on their pump drainage systems, and regularly clear the drains and vertical drain gratings within their premises. The National Environment Agency (NEA) also increases the frequency of their checks and cleaning of public drains and Drop-Inlet Chambers in flood-prone areas and hotspots.

Inspection of drainage systems near construction sites and critical installations
PUB officers conduct routine checks throughout the year at 25 construction sites with major drainage works to ensure that the drains are free-flowing to convey storm water during heavy rain. During the monsoon season, PUB will intensify its checks at another 59 construction worksites around the island to ensure that public drains around these sites are unobstructed.

Online flood monitoring efforts & keeping the public safe
At the PUB operations centre, officers are on duty round the clock to carry out 24/7 online flood monitoring. Through a network of 278 closed circuit television (CCTV) cameras and 219 water level sensors installed in the major drains and canals, officers are able to access real-time data on water levels during heavy storms and quickly respond to flood events. Over the past year, PUB has also upgraded its flood forecasting capabilities through the use of radars which provide advance warning of rainfall patterns. This aids PUB in mobilising QRT vehicles to areas where floods may potentially occur.

Alerts on impending heavy rain or flash floods will be pushed out on Facebook and Twitter to warn the public.