How Much Sand Does Singapore Need?
What is it worth to lie on beautiful sand of a tropical beach? If you knew that the sand you were lying on had been dredged from the sea and disturbed marine habitat, would you enjoy it as much?
Singapore’s total land area in 2016 is 719 square kilometers (277 square miles). But back in 1960, Singapore’s land area was 581 square kilometers (224 square miles).
As its population increased, so did the need for more space. But how could an island like Singapore magically increase its land area?
By reclaiming land from the ocean. In fact, all of Singapore’s first-rate Changi Airport is sitting on land that was reclaimed from the sea.
Reclaiming land involves dredging the sea for sand which is then used to build land higher than sea level. But unfortunately, this process creates environmental problems for marine life and threatens the livelihood of fishermen.
In addition, Singapore’s neighbors, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, and Vietnam, felt that they were destroying their own territory by exporting sand to Singapore, and so they have stopped.
As a result, Singapore put its scientists to work to figure out better ways to expand its land area for the growing population.
The outcome is the polder development method which involves building dikes around polders significantly higher than the sea to enclose an area for reclamation. The new land can thus be lower than sea level, thereby reducing the amount of sand needed for a project and the country’s reliance on importing sand.
Singapore still has some traditional reclamation projects in the works but expects to be able to begin converting to the new method at the end of 2017.
And you thought dikes were only in Holland, didn’t you?