Water is a scarce and precious resource!

So Singapore just celebrated World Water Day on 24 March! The main event was at MacRitchie Reservoir, where I was last year, for the Ecological Literacy programme under Raffles Institute of Experiential Learning that I was part of. Quite different from this year’s, at Lorong Halus wetlands with Raffles Museum Toddycats!

Thankfully, my parents are quite into all these nature stuff, so yay they were happy to drive me down to Lorong Halus early in the morning 😛

Sunrise from the car

This banners seem to be must-haves at such events. Sadly they're one-off banners. Any way to reuse/recycle them??

We quickly started setting up our booth with all our specimens and information boards. And pretty soon, work started!

Our first "customer"!

Toddycat Weihan (left) introducing native animals to my parents!

Because the focus here is on fresh water, particularly those we can drink, we brought down a new array of freshwater specimens! Since most Singaporeans are most familiar with our reservoirs and ponds in parks and gardens, it was good that we had specimens of native and introduced (alien) animals. Helps in explaining why we shouldn’t be releasing animals into the wild, especially those which are not native to Singapore.

Introduced freshwater fish (left) vs. Native freshwater fish (right)

Introduced freshwater fish (left) vs. Native freshwater fish (right)

Native softshell turtle (left) vs. Introduced red-eared slider (right)

Native softshell turtle (left) vs. Introduced red-eared slider (right)

Also, good chance to let the general public know that Singapore, small as it is, also has endemic species! Crabs that can be found in Singapore and no where else in the world! Sadly, they are found only in very specific parts of Singapore and are very endangered :/ Usually if they’ve got references to Singapore in their scientific name, it means they were first described from Singapore. And naming things after Singapore helps in their conservation!

Special crab!

Endemic to (only found in) Singapore!! 😀

Also a good chance to advertise Raffles Museum publications, in particular the latest collection of the Private Lives series, An expose of Singapore’s Freshwaters.

Book for sale at special price!

We also took the opportunity to sell Junius’ papercrafts. Featuring our native wildlife, it’s a good chance to educate children and the wild animals that can be found in Singapore still!

Diorama of native wildlife by Toddycat Junius

Diorama of native wildlife by Toddycat Junius

Soon it’s time for the Guest-of-Honour (GOH), Deputy Prime Minister (DPM) Teo Chee Hean to make his appearance!

Toddycat Junius showing GOH DPM Teo Chee Hean our horseshoe crab specimens

GOH DPM Teo giving his speech

As opposed to giving the usual goodie bag (that is another regular feature of such events, to attract “aunties” and “uncles” I suppose), the Public Utilities Board (PUB), who organised World Water Day Singapore, gave out goodie pails instead!

No goodie bag, but a goodie pail instead! (If people don't use it, it ends up wasting more resources producing & is probably worse than a bag in terms of ecological footprint)

NEWater never fails to make an appearance. It is our National Treasure, I am sure.

"Refreshing! Perfect for a hot day to quench your thirst, the NeWater!" ~advertisement for PUB

The Zendogs 2.0 also dropped by on their bikes!

Siva attempting to bite off my ear D:

And once a Rafflesian, always a Rafflesian. From Raffles Girls School to Raffles Junior College (now Raffles Institution) to Raffles Museum Toddycats! Hahahaha. There is no affiliation between Toddycats and the two schools, but wells, Raffles is very much celebrated here, I’m sure he’ll be pleased to know that.

Woohoo RGS/RJC alumni! (from left) Gladys Chua, Fung Tze Kwan, Jocelyne Sze

I left about 11.00am, after the crowd disappeared. Decided to take a walk along Punggol Waterway to take a look.

What used to be Sungei Serangoon, now Serangoon reservoir. The dam is in the distance.

How they formed Singapore's 16th & 17th reservoirs.


It was a great event, with a wide variety of audience. Primary schools, secondary schools, junior colleges, polytechnics, families, old folks & community groups! I enjoyed sharing about Singapore’s biodiversity and how we have very unique crabs.

I suppose in Singapore now, water is not something we dwell much upon. (Pardon me if I make no sense, it’s 2.15am and I’ve been awake since 6.30am) We turn on our taps and clean, clear, potable water comes flowing out (potable as long as you’re on mainland Singapore). Dirty water flowing out, or no piped water at all, are memories of a distant past, or of another country.

This year’s theme is Water and Food Security. To Singaporeans, there’s probably little link. After all, majority of our food is imported, we don’t see how much water goes into producing anything/everything we eat. (In fact, we don’t see anything at all of how our food is produced. This disconnect is probably why kids can think that chickens have 6 legs)

I remember when I was in Primary School (about 10 years ago!), there was very heavy emphasis on saving water. Switching off the tap when soaping, use less water and everything. That is still very firmly ingrained into me (government propaganda ftw). Yet now, I don’t think kids are as aware of the need to save water. After all, as we all learned from Social Studies lessons, Singapore is a small country with scarce resources. To supplement water from Malaysia (cos our agreement will expire 2061), we have come up with NEWater, desalinated water and increased water catchment areas. Fresh, drinking water is limited and we should conserve as much as possible.

Because we’ve been turning lots of rivers that run towards the sea into reservoirs (Singapore river, Sungei Serangoon and many more) And that kinda ruins the ecosystem. Where we used to have mangroves, it’s now freshwater. So, don’t let those animals and plants sacrifice their lives for nothing!

Tried to live-tweet about the event but had difficulty attaching photos to my tweets, so I gave up and concentrated on talking to kids instead!


About Jocelyne Sze

I'm a Nature-lover, aspiring conservationist, and wannabe traveller in search of outdoor adventure.
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5 Responses to Water is a scarce and precious resource!

  1. Sivasothi N. says:

    Very nice post! I wasn’t trying to bite your ear, just your head! I wonder about those banners too – at the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, we ask Organisers to print them without the year. or to leave a blank where they can write that in and dust it out every year for the few hours they run the event.

    I am glad water conservation is still being taught in schools; but its not ingrained enough in everyone – a few years ago, I watched in amazement research students out of the mangrove wasted litres of water at the petrol station that lets us wash up there. The lessons at school and university washed down the drain with their thoughtlessness.

    • Jocelyne Sze says:

      Thanks (: Haha I suppose my ear is too small…
      Mmm, I do hope it doesn’t go to waste! Maybe someone will start making bags and pencil cases out of those banners, like XS Project

      Haha it was still very much taught in Primary School, when we had to brush teeth after eating during our recess! But over the years, important things taught in Primary Schools fade out of memory as the more important knowledge (to be tested during exams!) enters and takes up space… Yeahh, very tragically… :/

  2. Sivasothi N. says:

    As you gave up meat for Lent, you saved lots of water! Meat production is water costly, particularly beef. Veggie Thursday Singapore encourages going meat-free for a day at least, for starters; glad you did that for Lent! http://web.mit.edu/12.000/www/m2012/finalwebsite/solution/agriculture.shtml

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