SINGAPORE: Based on a new international water quality guideline by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Pasir Ris Beach has been identified as one where swimming would not be recommended. However, activities like canoeing and kayaking can continue.
The beach scored a fair grading because it contains an abnormal level of a type of bacteria traditionally found in human faeces and warm-blooded animals.
And for the first time, advisory signages against swimming have been erected along the 3.3-kilometre beach. They point to the high level of bacteria in the water, which could cause illnesses affecting the stomach, and eyes, like conjunctivitis.
S Satish Appoo, Director, Environmental Health Department, National Environment Agency, said: “I’d like to stress that the water quality has not deteriorated. It’s because the standards have become more stringent, so it’s just a question of not being to meet the higher grade.
“One of the factors could be that after heavy rains, the dirt, litter and other things that you find on the ground, could get washed eventually into the beaches and beach fronts, thereby affecting its water quality.”
Among the other five beaches, Sentosa Island scored a “Very Good” grading, while East Coast Park and Changi were rated “Good”. Beaches at Seletar Island, Sembawang Park also got a “Good” rating.
The six fresh water reservoirs in Singapore like Bedok, MacRitchie and Lower Seletar reservoirs all meet the new WHO guidelines.
In addition, they are not affected by the new standards because swimming is not allowed in the reservoirs in the first place. Only activities like wakeboarding, skiiing and dragon boating are permitted.
Authorities will conduct annual reviews on the quality of the water at the six recreational beaches and reservoirs.
Compared to other beaches in the Eastern part of Singapore like Changi or East Coast, Pasir Ris Beach is not as popular among Singaporeans. Those who frequent the Pasir Ris beach said that over the weekends, fewer than 50 people would be swimming inside these waters.
The National Environment Agency, which monitors the water quality on a weekly basis, will take necessary actions for Pasir Ris Beach after a year-long study.
The new WHO water quality guidelines apply to all water bodies which are open for recreational use. – CNA/vm