Tuesday, 27 July 2010

A Tale of Two Cities - Engineering Flood Controls

MM Lee attributed the recent floods in Singapore to "an act of God" and said that no amount of engineering can prevent flooding.

The Singapore Authorities claimed that the recent floods were not due to the Marina Barrage.

The Minister of Environment and Water Resources, Dr. Yaacoob Ibrahim, basically stuck to the explanation that the 16 June 2010 Great Orchard Road Flood was caused by 2 bursts of heavy downpour 30 minutes apart - 100mm of rainfall within 2 hours and clogged drains were the causes.

The Minister subsequently announced in Parliament that an inter-agency taskforce would review the design of the Stamford Canal, which runs through Orchard Road. Depending on their findings, the canal might be expanded.

Our box culverts draining into the Stamford Canal are meek when compared to the tributaries feeding the Yangtze River, where the resulting fierce torrents downstream were known to cause killer floods over the Yangtze plains.

Last Sunday, the 185 m high Three Gorges Dam again stood on firm foundation to demonstrate its  "engineering" might  when it tamed water which reached 16.8m from its maximum capacity of 175m. The biggest flood crest on the Yangtze River this year had passed through the Three Gorges Dam, and the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze were again protected.

I do not agree that "no amount of engineering can prevent flooding", especially in the case of Singapore,  not forgetting that China experiences much more adverse and extreme weather conditions, where the "acts of God" are more unpredictable and much less merciful than in Singapore.

Mao Zedong pledged famously that under communism the Chinese would be able to bend nature to their will - and he, too, had a memorial beside the Yangtze.

China's modern governments, including the current one headed by President Hu Jintao, have been stacked with engineers eager to make Mao's words come true.

Mr Li Peng, who got his start supervising municipal waterworks, put the Three Gorges project into motion when he was premier in the late 1980s. Former president Jiang Zemin, who studied engineering in the Soviet Union, turned the first spadeful of earth in 1993.

Mr Hu, a hydraulic engineer who personally followed the progress of construction, was in charge when the dam was completed 2006.

MM had said in an exclusive interview with National Geographic Magazine that over time Singaporeans have become “less hard-driving and hard-striving.” He also said if native Singaporeans are falling behind because “the spurs are not stuck into the hide,” that is their problem.

Yes, precisely what the MM had said has happened to our Authorities, our political leaders, and himself, even though the "spurs" are stuck into their hide with "high salaries".

While Chairman Mao pledged that the Chinese would be able to bend nature to their will, our MM thinks that no amount of engineering can prevent flooding in Singapore as they are "acts of God". He soon forgotten what he had criticised about Singaporeans.

Lu Xun, one of the great thinkers of the democratic May 4th Movement in the first decades of the 20th century, made a famous attack on the then ruling elite for issuing telegrams that blamed God for the woes befalling China. Lu quipped, "God replied in dismay: 'But I wasn't even there!'”

In a Leviathan state, the answers must always come from a "God". And in a Leviathan, all ruling elites will certainly be left to "blame the God" because the lower rank and file of the Authorities will never want to answer for taking over the responsibilities.

Reference #1
By Channel NewsAsia, Updated: 21/07/2010

SINGAPORE : Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew has said no amount of engineering can prevent flooding.

He was speaking to reporters after touring the waterfront development at the Kallang and Kolam Ayer areas. ...................

Mr Lee was asked if he thought the response from the various agencies to the recent spate of floods in Singapore was sufficient.

He replied: "How can you say that the response is sufficient? At the same time, whatever we do when we get extraordinary rains like we had recently, no amount of engineering can prevent flooding.

"There’s a limited amount of space that’s been dug underground, limited amount of space you can run off for canals and if you have an extraordinary rainfall, well you got to prepare for it."

Singaporeans have reacted strongly to the last three incidents of floods in different parts of the country.

The Minister Mentor acknowledged that Singapore and Singaporeans expect everything to be perfect in the country and he said the leaders tried their best to do just that.

Mr Lee added: "Somethings are beyond (that); it’s an act of God unless you want to lose half the roads and have canals." ....................

  A Man-Made "Boxed" Canal in Singapore

Reference #2
MONDAY JULY 26, 2010
WATER levels crept lower from a record high in the reservoir behind the massive Three Gorges Dam yesterday amid fears of record killer floods, but the authorities warned that it was unclear if the drop will continue.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has ordered officials to prepare for more serious floods and disasters while touring central Hubei province, where rising waters have put pressure on the dam. China has long promoted the dam as the best way to end centuries of flooding in the Yangtze basin.

Water levels in the Three Gorges Dam dropped 15cm overnight and were 16.8m from its maximum capacity of 175m, as of yesterday morning. No rain was expected in the region over the next three days. AP

FLOODs along the YANGTZE
Photo taken by Satellite

Water is discharged from the Three Gorges Dam to lower the level in its reservoir in Yichang, Hubei province

1 comment:

  1. Many netizens with engineering knowledges had suspected the Marina Barrage for causing or contributing to the recent floods. Later, there were rumours that Minister Yaacob was given a dressing down by the Minister Mentor, who is the One that got the Barrage built.

    If indeed the Marina Barrage contributed to causing the floods, will it not mean that Minister Yaacob have to live with a wrongful blame for the rest of his life?