Great Singapore Shower (and Deluge): culvert was the culprit!

To follow up on the puzzling case of Orchard Road being rapidly transformed to Orchard River on Wed, 16/06/10, PUB was quick & thorough in their investigation.

The culprit was identified as the chocked culvert (Yes, I too just come across this word. Culvert is defined in many of the articles as 'an underground drain'. Or according to, culvert is a transverse drain).

The businesses in Orchard Road were reported to take 4-6 weeks to recover. It's particularly sad (needless to say) considering the current period of Great Singapore Sale 2010 (started from 28 May to 25 July 2010). Guess we won't ever see a cheerful tourist like this one nonchalantly resting on Orchard Road after a tiring day of shopping. At least not very soon.

We should take this unnatural natural disaster as a point to reflect. Does Singapore rely too much on Orchard Road as part of its annual Great Singapore Sale?! It shouldn't.

A choked drain caused the massive flooding in Orchard Road on Wednesday.

This was revealed by Singapore's national water agency, PUB, a day after floods wreaked havoc in the downtown area.

The skies opened and turned parts of Singapore into a muddy river on Wednesday.

Many questions were raised on why Orchard Road bore the brunt, when it has a network in place to manage rainwater.

Investigations found that the downpour led to a heavy build-up of debris trapped in an underground drain known as a "culvert".

Yap Kheng Guan, Director of 3P Network, PUB, said: "The interesting characteristic about this rainfall is that there were two bursts of very heavy, intense rainfall.

"The first peak may well bring in some vegetation and that could have been trapped inside the culvert, and the second peak came along, brought in more vegetation and caused more of the debris to be trapped."

Water from Nassim Road and Cuscaden Road normally flows into two sections of Stamford Canal, which runs along Orchard Road.

But the build-up of debris in the culvert caused the rainwater to be diverted into only one section.

This resulted in rainwater overflowing onto Orchard Road.

After the water had subsided, PUB officers found one-third of the culvert blocked.

PUB maintains that Stamford Canal is able to handle rain of similar intensity.

Mr Yap said: "Over the last two or so years, there were two times when rainfall matched the one that we saw yesterday. There were no flood incidents in the Orchard Road area."

PUB also ruled out the Marina Barrage as the cause of the flood, as the reservoir level was within the normal operating range.

PUB is taking to steps to ensure that such blockages do not occur again.

It will inspect critical closed drains every month, instead of every three to six months.

Debris carried by rainwater flowed through the canal just behind Tanglin Shopping Centre on Wednesday. The mostly-vegetation eventually built up and was trapped in a drain downstream.

To prevent such future blockages, PUB said it will be installing litter traps. It will also be adding sensors to detect any irregular spikes in water levels and this will allow PUB to alert the public in advance.

Wednesday's flood at Orchard Road was the worst since 1984, and losses to businesses there are likely to run into millions of dollars.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Choked drains caused massive flooding in Orchard Rd: PUB".

Some businesses hit by the flash floods in Orchard Rood may take at least four weeks to get their house in order.

The flash floods are gone but businesses particularly those at Liat Towers are still picking up the pieces.

At fast food outlet Wendy's in Liat Towers, the damage could run up to S$500,000.

Goh Wee Ling, corporate communications manger, Wendy's, said: "We would have to spend some time in re-doing up the outlet because in a way, it is going back to the drawing board. Everything has been affected by the flood. So we got to start from square one and we got to start doing up things again."

The outlet would need at least four weeks before it can re-open.

In the meantime, its 40 employees will be deployed to other outlets in Lau Pa Sat and Jurong Point, which will now open 24-7 during the World Cup Season.

Besides Liat Towers, some shops at Lucky Plaza are also not ready to open.

Steven Goh, director, Orchard Road Business Association, said: "This flood is quite unusual and it's quite unfortunate that it happens once in 25 years. The association is very concerned and we sympathize with those retailers, especially those at Liat Towers and Lucky Plaza. "

The association is also looking at working with the relevant authorities and government agencies on preventive measures.

From Channel NewsAsia, "Businesses in Orchard Rd hit by floods may take 4-6 weeks to get house in order".


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