Monday, November 10, 2008

Water Quality Monitoring at Nee Soon Freshwater Swamp (6 Oct 08)

(Updated on 20/2/13: Nee Soon Swamp Forest is a highly sensitive area that is off limits to the general public as the biodiversity may not be able to handle the visitor load. Special permission from Nparks must be obtained prior to entering the area.)

What is a freshwater swamp? I have always imagined what it would be like since I heard of this term many years ago.

Though I already have the answer a few years back when I explored the Nee Soon Freshwater Swamp some years back, I only get to know this place better in 2007 when I started my water quality monitoring programme there.

True to most accounts, the swamp water is really acidic, hovering around a pH of 3 - 4. Contrary to popular belief, many fishes can be observed in this acidic water. Whether they are acid stressed or truly adapted to the waters, I do not know. But most textbooks (from Western countries) will tell you that waters of such acidity will kill a fish really fast. Perhaps, the authors have yet to visit a freshwater swamp.

Other than the acidity, the water is really clean (visually, physicallly and chemically), as to be expected of a forest reserve with little human activity. Despite occurences of high colifom count (in 2007) and high chloride content (Oct 2008), these by themselves do not indicate pollution as natural factors could also have given rise to such occurences.

If you have not been to this place, I strongly urge you to give it a try as it is the "only" freshwater swamp in Singapore. (Please take note of the update at the head of this post. I am an advocate of natural conservation so in no way should you act irresponsibly towards the environment and the biodiversity there.)  (I believe the highly restricted Western Catchment has some more.) It is definitely a welcome change from the conventional primary and secondary forests that you may have gone before.

Figures: Water pipelines. As the name "swamp" implies, part of the forest is always flooded. The water level may reach up to your knees or higher so please be prepared physically, if not at least mentally.

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