Marina Barrage


Marina Barrage is a government-commissioned dam built across the mouth of Marina Channel to create Singapore's 15th reservoir, Marina Reservoir. Officially opened on 31 October 2008, it separates the water in Marina Basin from the seawater. It has been considered an engineering marvel because of its magnitude and complexity, and it was the subject of an August 2008 episode of Discovery Channel's Man Made Marvels Asia. The barrage is dubbed a three-in-one project as it serves three objectives: create a new source of water supply, act as a tool for flood control, and provide a new lifestyle attraction.

By 1987, the government had successfully completed its ten-year drive to clean up Singapore River and Kallang River. It was at this time that then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew, now minister mentor, mooted the idea of damming up Marina Basin to create a large freshwater lake. However, this was not yet feasible with the existing technology. It was only in 2004 that the government set the wheels in motion by calling a tender for the project. The contract was awarded to local contractor Koh Brothers and construction began in early 2005.

The barrage works using a system comprising gates and pumps. It has nine 30m-wide and 5m-high steel crest gates spanning the 350m-wide Marina Channel, and seven drainage pumps capable of displacing a combined total of 280 cubic metres of water per second. Each gate weighs 70 tonnes and each pump 28 tonnes.

Under normal conditions, the hydraulically-operated gates will be closed. When there is heavy rain but the tide is low, the gates will open to release excess water into the sea. When heavy rain coincides with high tide, the gates will remain closed while the pumps will be activated to pump the excess water out to sea.

With this system, the barrage alleviates flooding in low-lying areas in the city, including Chinatown, Jalan Besar and Geylang. It also keeps the reservoir's water level constant, thereby making it suitable for water-based activities such as sailing, windsurfing, canoeing and dragonboating.

Visitors to the barrage can take a scenic walk on Marina Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that sits atop the nine crest gates and connects Marina South to Marina East. At the Marina South end of the bridge is the Visitor Centre, which has been designed to look like a seashell from the top. This two-storey building houses the pumping station, some food and beverage outlets, and the Sustainable Singapore Gallery. The gallery showcases Singapore's efforts towards achieving environmental sustainability and aims to educate the public on major environmental and water issues.

The roof of the Visitor Centre is completely covered with grass, hence its name, the Green Roof. It serves as a viewing deck and a venue for private functions and recreational activities such as picnics. It also doubles up as an insulation layer, lowering the building's indoor temperature and reducing its air-conditioning requirements. Singapore's largest solar park, measuring 1,200 square metres, is located here too. The 405-panel solar park converts solar energy into electricity to supplement the daytime power requirements of the barrage.

1987 : Lee put forward the idea of building a barrage across Marina Channel.
1998 : Then Ministry of the Environment, now known as the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, said that it was studying the idea.
Jun 2004 : PUB called an open tender for the construction of the barrage and reservoir.
Oct 2004 : Tender closed. Nine groups submitted 48 proposals.
Nov 2004 : Tender was awarded to Koh Brothers Building & Civil Engineering Contractor Pte Ltd for S$226 million.
20 Mar 2005 : Two-part documentary commissioned by PUB and titled Reservoir in the City debuted on Channel NewsAsia. Part One traced the events that led up to the building of the barrage.
22 Mar 2005 : A ground-breaking ceremony was held. Lee officially launched the construction of the project.
27 Mar 2005 : Part Two of Reservoir in the City was aired. It focused on the benefits that the barrage would bring to Singapore.
1 Mar 2007 : A boat hoist to move vessels between the sea and the reservoir began operations. It can lift boats weighing up to 70 tonnes and measuring up to 20m long and 6m wide.
24 Aug 2008 : Participants of the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run and Army Half-Marathon ran across Marina Bridge as part of the 21km route. This was the first running event to be staged at the barrage.
31 Oct 2008 : Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong officially opened the barrage and reservoir.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Outstanding Engineering Achievement Award 2007
Institution of Engineers Singapore (IES) Prestigious Engineering Achievement Award 2007
American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) 2009 Engineering Excellence Awards - National Honor Award
American Academy of Environmental Engineers (AAEE) Superior Achievement Award 2009

Valerie Chew

From the bay to the sea over the barrage. (2007, October 17). The Straits Times. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from Factiva database.

Ghani, A., & Hooi, A. (2005, March 23). MM's vision of city dam takes shape. The Straits Times. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Hooi, A. (2004, October 6). More dams planned to catch water from HDB towns. The Straits Times. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Liaw, W. (2008, November 1). First city reservoir opens. The Straits Times. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from Factiva database.

Marina Barrage bags top honours at international environmental engineering awards. (2009, May 7). ACN Newswire. Retrieved May 8, 2009, from Factiva database.

Marina Barrage project wins ACEC 2009 National Honor Award. (2009, April 30). ENP Newswire. Retrieved May 8, 2009, from Factiva database.

My reservoir in the city. (2008, December). Pure, 4-11.
(Call no.: RSING 333.910095957 P)

Nathan, D. (1998, May 4). Proposed barrage to stop flooding. The Straits Times. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

Ng, S. (2005, March 20). New fun spot at Marina waterfront. The Straits Times. Retrieved January 21, 2011, from NewspaperSG.

PUB. (n.d.). Awards & achievements. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from

PUB. (n.d.). Permit: Operation of boat hoist with effect from 1 Mar 2007. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from

PUB. (2004, June 21). Singapore's 3-in-1 Marina Barrage [Press release]. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from

PUB. (2004, November 11). PUB awards contract to build the Marina Barrage and Reservoir to Koh Brothers Building & Civil Engineering Contractor Pte Ltd [Press release]. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from

PUB. (2008, October 23). Singapore's first reservoir in the city realised [Press release]. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from

Pumping up for year-end finish. (2007, August 30). The Straits Times. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from Factiva database.

Teh, J. L. (2008, November 2). From creative vision to reality. The New Paper. Retrieved November 4, 2008, from Factiva database.

Water Ways Watch. (2008, July). E-news: Marina Barrage on Discovery Channel. Retrieved November 6, 2008, from

Further Readings
Inking a new chapter in Singapore's water story. (2005, March). WaterNet, 7.
(Call no.: RSING 363.61095957 W)

Marina Barrage - the beginning. (2005, March). WaterNet, 5-6.
(Call no.: RSING 363.61095957 W)

Raising the bar. (2004, September). WaterNet, 7.
(Call no.: RSING 363.61095957 W)

The information in this article is valid as at 2008 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Politics and Government>>Public Utilities
Architecture and Landscape
Law and government>>National development
Flood dams and reservoirs--Singapore
Nature>>Nature Conservation>>Reservoirs
Public utilities
Law and government>>Environmental protection>>Natural resources

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