25 August 2009

Pasir Ris beach water quality still fail

Last year, of the beaches used for public recreation, Pasir Ris failed the more stringent quality standards set by WHO.

This year, Pasir Ris failed again. NEA traced the cause to "various sources including minor leakage from older sewers, moored vessels, animals, as well as discharges from small-scale Sewage Treatment Plants. The low water currents in the concave part of Pasir Ris beach are not effective in diluting and dispersing the discharges." To correct the situation, PUB will rehabilitate and upgrade the sewer systems and "NEA will also work with other agencies to minimise the bacterial pollution from the other sources."
Fish farm off Pasir Ris
I wonder whether the many fish farms in the area have something to do with this? Because where does all the wastes from the fish farms go? Will the situation get worse as Singapore steps up effort to boost output from fish farms? I wonder why fish farms are not mentioned?

Despite this, the shores of Pasir Ris teem with marine life. After all, feces is food to many animals! Still, too much isn't a good thing and can upset the natural balance.

Annual Assessment Of Water Quality At Beaches
NEA website 25 Aug 09;
Singapore, 25 August 2009 - The National Environment Agency (NEA) had in August 2008 revised its guidelines for water quality for recreational use. The revised guidelines were developed based on the latest World Health Organisation's water quality guidelines for recreational use.

The revised guidelines are based on the microbial indicator, enterococcus (a type of bacteria found in the faeces of human and warm blooded animals) which corresponds better with the health risks associated with the use of recreational beach water compared to the previous indicator, faecal coliform.

Under the revised guidelines, only beaches with not more than 5% of the collected water samples having enterococcus counts of greater than 200 per 100 ml and graded “Good” or “Very Good” are suitable for whole–body water contact activities such as swimming, water-skiing, and wakeboarding (also known as primary contact activities). Beaches that have more than 5% of the collected samples having enterococcus counts greater than 200 per 100 ml and graded “Fair”, “Poor” or “Very Poor” are not suitable for primary contact recreation.

Water quality of Singapore beaches

In 2008, five out of the six popular recreational beaches monitored by NEA were assessed to be suitable for primary contact activities as they were graded “Very Good” or “Good”. They are Sentosa Island, Seletar Island, Sembawang Park, Changi and East Coast Park.

The water quality at Pasir Ris beach was graded as 'Fair' under the more stringent revised WHO guidelines, and hence deemed unsuitable for primary contact activities. Accordingly, NEA had put up signages along Pasir Ris beach to advise beach goers against swimming in the water since 1 August 2008.

The NEA has now completed the annual water quality review of the six recreational beaches for 2009. Under this review, the water quality of Sentosa Island, Seletar Island, Sembawang Park, Changi and East Coast Park beaches are again graded “Very Good” or “Good” and are suitable for primary contact activities. There has been no deterioration in the water quality at Pasir Ris beach and it is still graded as “Fair”, with 8% of the collected samples having enterococcus counts greater than 200 per 100 ml. Thus, the public is again advised to refrain from swimming at Pasir Ris beach until the next review in August 2010.

Causes of “Fair” water quality of Pasir Ris beach

A study by NEA showed that Pasir Ris beach’s water quality is affected by various sources including minor leakage from older sewers, moored vessels, animals, as well as discharges from small-scale Sewage Treatment Plants (STPs) that presently serve the more remote areas in Pasir Ris. The low water currents in the concave part of Pasir Ris beach are not effective in diluting and dispersing the discharges.

PUB has an ongoing plan to extend the sewer network and phase out the 39 STPs in the Halus/Tampines, Changi and Selerang areas by 2012. PUB also has an ongoing sewer rehabilitation programme for aging sewers in this area, under which 23km of sewers will be rehabilitated by 2011.

PUB’s programme to phase out the STPs and rehabilitate the older sewers will aim to help improve the water quality of Pasir Ris beach. NEA will also work with other agencies to minimise the bacterial pollution from the other sources. NEA will continue to closely monitor the water quality at Pasir Ris beach and inform the public of the updated beach gradings.


More media reports on the wildsingapore news blog.

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