Third World Centre for Water Management


Droughts or floods: What is important for Singapore?

Asit K. Biswas

Global-is-Asian | Issue 13 | January-March, 2012

Many have argued that Singapore should plan for a 200-year flood, like Hong Kong, rather than be satisfied with a 100-year flood buffer. What is missing from the public discussion is the realisation that this has become a subject of media hype, a matter of polemics, and does not constitute a serious dialogue on what is the needed for the long-term benefit of Singapore based on scientific facts and analyses. A 100-year flood does not Let us put things in perspective. In my view, Singaporeans should be more concerned with droughts rather than floods, and spending on water management infrastructure should give adequate weight to droughts and also to floods.

Similarly even if Singapore is protected from a 200-year flood, there is no guarantee that it will not face a monstrous 500-year flood, or even a 1,000-year flood, within the next few years. Technically, the country can be protected from any flood, but the cost of this protection goes up exponentially if we move from a 100-year to a 1,000-year flood.

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