22 February 2011

Pollution at Sungei Api Api?

Lush mangroves next to HDB flats! At Sungei Api Api, mangroves grow along the natural banks besides the apartment blocks there.
Yesterday, I had a quick look at this marvellous place. The water was calm, bluish and seemed clear of pollution.

The mangroves lining Sungei Api Api were part of a conscious decision by NParks to re-establish the original mangrove habitat there after reclamation at Pasir Ris and works to deepen the Sungei. The restoration of mangroves here was also part of Dr John Yong's effort, 'his dream' he says, to actively replant mangroves, especially endangered species. The experience in this experiment was not only applied to Sungei Tampines which lies nearby, but also to mangrove restoration at Pulau Semakau!

At Sungei Api Api, there are indeed many large Api-api putih (Avicennia alba). Also some Api-api bulu (Avicennia rumphiana) and Api-api ludat (Avicennia officinalis). I saw several Bakau putih (Bruguiera cylindrica), Bakau minyak (Rhizophora apiculata) and something that seemed to be a flowering Nyireh batu (Xylocarpus mollucensis).
There were also lots of humungous Sea hibiscus (Hibiscus tiliaceus). I saw one Penaga laut (Calophyllum inophyllum) and even a Noni bush (Morinda citrifolia).
It was a hot mid-day high tide, so perhaps that is why I didn't see many fishes in the water. But there were lots of little birds in the trees, cicadas singing and I saw a water hen, and this monitor lizard which promptly scuttled away into the undergrowth.
As this sign by PUB explains, Sungei Api Api is linked to a network of drains that start far inland.
Here's a Google Earth snap shot of Sungei Api Api and Sungei Tampines that drain into the mangroves at Pasir Ris Park. The two Sungei are quite long and any pollution entering them would eventually end up in the Park.
Looking upstream on the other side of the road, the lovely tree-lined banks of Sungei Api Api are replaced by concrete walls.
And some construction is going near the water's edge.
Is there pollution at Sungei Api Api?

A few days ago, Grant Pereira sent out this message on The Green Volunteers blog.


Sungei Api Api is usually teeming with aquatic life. I live near drive 3 and stop there regularly to observe the activities. There are huge numbers of Tilapias and grey mullets and at the edges you’ll observe plenty of mud skippers and a variety of crabs.

A few months ago, all this aquatic activity disappeared completely. The water turned grey and smelt putrid and was totally devoid of life I contacted the authorities who said they would investigate. They said that the putrid smell was that the river bank baking in the strong sunlight (after all these years of conservation work, one would at least credit me the intelligence of knowing the difference between a natural smell and pollution).

The strange part was that a couple of weeks after my report, the river slowly started returning to life. Last week, the same thing happened again and all the aquatic life disappeared.

I reported this again to PUB and NEA and got the usual reply that they would investigate. I think it’s time the Green Volunteers, took matters into our hands investigate the source of this pollution ourselves.

I need some volunteers who can spend time back tracking drains to trace the source of this pollution. We will work out a grid so that we can methodically cover this area. I have a rough idea who is polluting Sg. Api Api but we need to catch them red-handed, take photos and call our friends in the press.

I am also looking for a company that can sponsor us in doing chemical analysis of water samples that we take – please let me know if you have friends who can help. If you want to help, please email me (with subject Sg. Api Api).
Grant Pereira can be contacted at 65 968 40950 or grant@singapore.com

You might also want to join Grant and The Green Volunteers on their free guided walk at Pasir Ris mangroves and herb garden on 12 Mar (Sat)

More about Sungei Api Api from my trip there in Apr 09.

Media reports about pollution at Sungei Api Api


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