Thursday, April 28, 2011

Checking out the water quality at Singapore's iconic (but mostly forgotten) landmark: Chinese Garden

Some time ago, I was lamenting about the lack of water bodies in Singapore for educational activities. I now realise that I have missed out a wonderful outdoors location for my water quality studies and it is none other than our iconic Chinese Garden. (The nearby Japanese Garden and Jurong Lake Park should also fit the bill as outdoors classrooms though I have yet to check them out.) When I was younger (decades ago?), Chinese Garden was always in the spotlight for shooting of period drama serials by the then SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation) (now Mediacorp). Nowadays, it is mostly forgotten except for a handful of joggers, photographers and tourists. The latest attractions in town are the sexy casino and theme park on Sentosa, as well as the panoramic sky garden and another casino at Marina Bay Sands.Chinese Garden is so "history".

What prompted me to check out Chinese Garden was a friendly meeting with the management of the Garden under JTC (Jurong Town Corporation). They are really supportive of promoting the 2 gardens and 1 park for educational purposes - outdoors lessons, water quality studies, even relevant R&D. Do approach them if you think that they fit your educational curriculum as I am sure they will oblige your request.

Enough chatter. Here are some of the findings on my trip there.

Figure: A rather commonly encountered aesthetic problem is the obvious presence of algae in a few streams and ponds. We didn't try doing any sampling for fear of allergic reactions to algae and their metabolic products.

Figure: Quite a few healthy patches of cattails. We tried sampling for bugs (macroinvertebrates) here as such densely vegetated areas are their favourite haunt.

Figure: A small water body at the dead end of a stream. Because of the lack of flow and circulation, the end of this pond is occasionally overwhelmed by suspended sediments. We also did a sampling of the bugs here.

Figure: Sorting out the bugs from our water sampling. Surprise, surprise... there are healthy populations of various bugs despite the aesthetic problems mentioned above. Lots of shrimps, damselflies, some dragonflies, quite a few mayflies, water bugs, almost no worms and no leeches. The water is biologically (and implicitly chemically and physically) healthier than most water bodies I have sampled in Singapore. Make no mistake, Chinese Garden is THE place to visit for water quality work.

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