Where The Rain Goes

It rains in Singapore.  A lot.  We get approximately 92 inches of rainfall a year — compare that to 64 inches of rain a year in New Orleans, 41 in Baltimore, and just 40 in Seattle.  The rain here is both serious and frequent.  And all of that rain needs to go somewhere.  In a country that’s relatively flat, and where the Central Business District is very close to sea level, this creates real flooding hazards.

So the government of Singapore, in its far-seeing management wisdom, has created an elaborate drainage system.  They have drilled thousands of holes into the earth, both large and small…


… and have created an elaborate system of water removal.  This includes 1,000 kilometers of canals and 7,000 kilometers of drains:


Here’s the same canal (or drain — I’m not sure what distinguishes the two) on a drier day:


There are smaller drains all over the place.  This is some of what I pass (or step over) on my way to work:



Where does all of this rain end up?  Singapore captures about two-thirds of what pours into these drains and canals for its drinking supply (which PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, notes, “makes Singapore one of the few countries in the world to harvest urban stormwater on a large scale for its water supply”).

When you look closely (you have to, because this is the kind of stuff it’s easy to ignore when you’re out walking), this drainage system is truly remarkable.  I like the mosses in the older drains…


… and there’s great cement work in many places:


It’s not sexy stuff, but it’s interesting and important.  I’d be spending a lot more time with my feet in giant puddles without it.

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