PUB enhances flood response capabilities ahead of Northeast Monsoon

New fleet of 13 flood response vehicles equipped with drive through higher floodwaters, alongside enhanced flood monitoring with integrated dashboard and upgraded radar technology.

PUB officers monitor data from across the island at the joint operations centre round the clock and alert the relevant teams quickly in the event of a flash flood.

With wetter weather expected as the Northeast Monsoon season approaches, PUB, Singapore’s national water agency has rolled out a slew of new initiatives to enhance rainfall forecasting, monitoring, and flood response capabilities to keep public and motorists safe during flash floods.

As climate change brings about more frequent and intense rainfall that could temporarily overwhelm the drainage capacity, the ability to forecast and monitor impending heavy storms becomes more important than ever. PUB has doubled the number of X-band radars to six, creating a more robust monitoring network with greater coverage and improving the accuracy of rainfall measurements and forecasts. X-band radars provide precipitation data at high temporal and spatial resolution, which will enable PUB to issue public alerts and deploy resources to potential flood locations in a timelier manner.

To further improve PUB’s flood monitoring capabilities, the agency has expanded its Catchment and Waterways Operations System (CWOS) for real-time monitoring of reservoir and drainage operations to also capture and include all flood-related data from across the island on a single platform. This integrated dashboard enhances monitoring efforts at PUB’s Joint Operations Centre (JOC).

Quick response time is also crucial before and during flash flood incidents. A fleet of 13 new flood response vehicles, modified according to PUB’s requirements, are now equipped with features such as a GPS tracker and a pan-tilt-zoom camera to stream real-time vehicle location and flood conditions on the road to PUB’s JOC. These enhancements enable PUB to better coordinate the vehicles’ deployment remotely, direct, and assign the response team more quickly to locations where heavy rain is expected. The vehicles are also able to drive through higher floodwaters of up to 700mm, and are stocked with portable flood barriers and inflatable flood bags. When onsite, PUB officers may need to close off affected road sections, direct traffic away from floodwaters and deploy flood barriers. The vehicles have been progressively deployed since April this year.

Yeo Keng Soon, director of catchment and waterways department for PUB, explained: “Over the years, PUB has been enhancing our capabilities in flooding monitoring and response with new technologies and carrying out ongoing improvements to the drainage system for long-term resilience. However, we can never predict nature or cater to every extreme rainfall event to eliminate floods.

“It is thus imperative for us to strengthen our resilience as a community to flood incidents. Preparing and responding to flood incidents is an essential component of achieving greater resilience. For example, building owners must ensure that flood protection measures in their developments remain effective and consider suitable flood barriers to keep out stormwaters; contractors must check that the drains and canals at their worksites are not clogged with silt and debris. Members of the public can prepare themselves for sudden changes in weather and potential flash floods by subscribing to flood alerts.”

To improve Singapore’s long-term flood resilience, PUB continuously invests in enhancements to drainage infrastructure, with almost S$2 billion spent on drainage works in the last decade to alleviate flooding and support new developments. Another $1.4 billion will be invested over the next five years on drainage improvement works.