Aquatic Science Centre – Pandan

Background & Scope

Towards improved urban water management through an Aquatic Science Centre in Singapore

How we use and reuse water in cities is becoming increasingly critical since it is predicted that by the year 2060, two-third of the world’s population will reside in urban towns. Singapore has an extensive water network that spans 14 reservoirs, 32 major rivers and more than 7,000 km of waterways including canals and drains. Few cities in the world have such a pervasive and well-integrated network of waterways. In order to capitalize on this natural resource of freshwater, there is a renewed call to enhance our living environment and lifestyle. Hence, there is an urgent need in Singapore, as well as other countries, to adopt approaches and practices that will allow the reuse of freshwater for both recreation and consumption. However, such approaches have to be (i) low energy; (ii) able to reduce flooding risks; (iii) efficient in removing sediments and impurities and (iv) integrated with urban architectural plan designs and city plans.

Therefore a Centre for Aquatic Science Research at Sungei Ulu Pandan (CASR@Sg Ulu Pandan, currenlty Van Kleef Centre for Aquatic Science Research) was created with the overall aim to understand the fundamental processes so as to adopt intelligent strategies for sustainable solutions to urban freshwater management and to dissipate this knowledge by outreach and education activities.

The Van Kleef Centre served as a physical site for in-depth scientific investigations and facilitate translation of research activities to real world application. A multidisciplinary team consisting of researchers from the hydraulic, chemical and biological laboratories at Deltares and National University of Singapore worked towards achieving the research goals. This work was conducted by Singapore-Delft water Alliance is in partnership with the Public Utilities Board (PUB).

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Research Activities

  • Theme 1: To build a comprehensive knowledge base on the water quality improvement and monitoring capabilities of organisms
  • Theme 2: To develop an integrated approach for understanding, designing and controlling urban water systems
  • Theme 3: To quantify and model processes involved in the interaction between hydromorphology, water quality and biological organisms
  • Theme 4: To determine the effects on water quality by understanding the physico-chemical and biological processes at bed-water interface


THEME 1: To build a comprehensive knowledge base on the water quality improvement and monitoring capabilities of organisms

A diverse range of plants and animals can be used to improve and monitor water quality. The water improvement efficiencies of plants and animals will depend on growth characteristics, uptake rates, physiological processes, and exudation properties that can stimulate microbial and planktonic growth. Here, research on these complex traits are carried out.


THEME 2:  To develop an integrated approach for understanding, designing and controlling urban water systems

Runoff, surface water, ground water and sewer water are subsystems of a total urban water system. In one way or another, all the subsystems interact, influencing each other, and thereby influencing the total urban water system. Therefore, an integrated approach of the total urban water system is required in order to improve the system cost-effectively.



Biosorption makes use of certain types of inactive/dead biomaterials to concentrate organic/inorganic constituents even from very dilute solutions
Biosorbents include bacteria, fungi, marine algae, fresh water algae, industrial wastes and agricultural wastes.

The major advantages of this bioremediation technique are its simplicity, cost-effectiveness and rapid removal of contaminants


THEME 3: To quantify and model processes involved in the interaction between hydromorphology, water quality and biological organisms

Biological organisms such as macrophytes influence the flow characteristics of water, as well as other water quality parameters. Thus, the interaction between macrophytes and hydromorphology are studied and data gathered from eco-hydraulics and environmental modeling will be used to develop tools for analyzing and managing the aquatic environment.


THEME 4: To determine the effects on water quality by understanding the physico-chemical and biological processes at bed-water interface

In environments, we expect interplay of growth enhancing and retarding physico-chemicals conditions that will govern the success or failure of various organisms present in the community. Hence, it is of utmost importance to understand the fundamental processes occurring in individual species with regards to both uptake and release of chemicals of external or biological origin and their interactions in order to understand the effects of various chemicals on their growth and physiology.

At the same time, sediments and suspended solids contribute significantly to urban freshwater chemistry. Sediments contain different kind of pollutants, including nutrients, heavy metals and organic contaminants. Adsorbed chemicals on surfaces of sediments and solids as well as chemical fluxes at sediment-water interfaces are being studied.

Principal investigators

Assoc Professor Sanjay Swarup (NUS)
Professor Arthur Mynett (Deltares)

Selected Research papers

  • K. Vijayaraghavan, T.T. Teo, R. Balasubramanian and U.M. Joshi (2009) Application of Sargassum Biomass to remove heavy metal ions from synthetic multi-metal solutions and urban storm water runoff. Journal of Hazardous Materials 164(2-3):1019-1023.
  • K. Vijayaraghavan, M. Arun, U.M. Joshi, R. Balasubramanian (2009) Biosorption of As (V) onto the shells of the crab (Portunus sanguinolentus): Equilibrium and kinetic studies, Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research 48(7):3589-3594.
  • K. Vijayaraghavan, A. Mahadevan, U.M. Joshi, and R. Balasubramanian (2009) An examination of the uptake of lanthanum from aqueous solution by crab shell particles. Chemical Engineering Journal 152(1): 116-121.
  • Prabhakaran S, Vijayaraghavan K, Balasubramanian R. (2009) Removal of Cr(VI) ions by spent tea and coffee dusts: reduction to Cr(III) and biosorption. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research 48(4):2113-2117.
  • Balasubramanian R, Perumal SV, Vijayaraghavan K. (2009) Equilibrium Isotherm Studies For the Multi Component Adsorption of Lead, Zinc, and Cadmium onto Indonesian Peat. Industrial and Engineering Chemistry Research 48(4):2093-2099.
  • Basheer C, Tan SH, Lee HK (2008) Extraction of Lead lons by Electromembrane Isolation. Journal Chromatography A 1213(1):14-18. Abstract
  • Sathishkumar M, Choi JG, Ku CS, Vijayaraghavan K, Binupriya AR, Yun SE. (2008) Carbaryl sorption by porogen-treated banana pith carbon. Adsorption Science and Technology 26 (9): 679-686.
  • Umid Man Joshi, Kuppusamy Vijayaraghavan, and Rajasekhar Balasubramanian. Trace Metals In Urban Street Dusts And Their Dissolution Characteristics In Various Aqueous Media. Chemosphere (Accepted).

Selected Conference papers

  • K. Vijayaraghavan, M. Arun, U. M. Joshi, R. Balasubramanian, A comparative study of seven materials as sorbents for removal of metal ions from real storm water runoff, 9th international conference on chemical and process engineering, ICheap-9, Rome, 10th-13th May 2009. Published in Chemical Engineering Transactions 17: 379-384.
  • Ellis Penning W, Arthur Mynett, Rao Raghuraj. The Effects of Macrophyte Morphology and Patch Density on Wave Attenuation in Shallow Lakes. Presented and published as Conference proceedings, 7th International Symposium on Ecohydraulics; Jan 2009, Chile.

Conference presentations

  • Kalyan Chakravarthy Mynampati, Sheela Reuben, *Arjan Wijdeveld and Sanjay Swarup (2009). Rhizosphere metabolomics and biofilm studies in aquatic environments. Metabomeeting, 5th – 8th July, Norwich, UK.
  • Ambarish Biswas, Kalyan Chakravarthy Mynampati, Rao Raghuraj, *Gauri Parab, Sheela Reuben, Umashankar Shivshankar, Rengarajan Sathyanarain and Sanjay Swarup (2009). MetDAT: A Web-based Metabolomics Data Analysis Tool. Metabomeeting, 5th – 8th July, Norwich, UK.
  • Sheela Reuben, Ng Wei Ling, Li Fangyan, K. Narasimhan, Daniel Pickard and Sanjay Swarup (2009). Bacterial motility, biofilm initiation and attachment: From intracellular signaling in bacteria to complex communities in urban freshwater environment in Singapore. Accepted Conference- Oral presentation, IWA, September 13 – 16, Davis, California, USA.
  • Umid Man Joshi, Kuppusamy Vijayaraghavan, and Rajasekhar Balasubramanian (2009). Heavy Metals in Urban Runoff: Distribution and Treatment, Oral presentation, Young Water Talents Symposium, 22 June, Suntec, Singapore.
  • U.M. Joshi, K. Vijayaraghavan, R. Balasubramanian (2008). Street Dust: A Potential Source of Trace Metals to Receiving Water Bodies, Water Convention, Singapore International Water Week, 23-27 June, Suntec, Singapore.
  • U.M. Joshi, K. Vijayaraghavan, S.H. Quek, R. Balasubramanian (2008). Heavy Metals in Street Dust: Characterization, Spatial Distribution and Multivariate Statistical Analysis, 12th International Conference on Integrated Diffuse Pollution Management (IWA DIPCON), 25-29 August, Khon Kaen University, Thailand.
  • Sanjay Swarup (2008) Metabolomics Tools and Applications by Small Molecule Biology Laboratory, Singapore. Small Molecule Biology Laboratory, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Metabomeeting, 28-29th April, Lyon, France.
  • Sheela Reuben, Kalyan C Mynampati, Arjan Wijdeveld, and Sanjay Swarup (2008). Understanding microbial biofilms in urban freshwater systems: A new multidisciplinary program in Singapore. In Program and abstracts: 12th International Society for Microbial Ecology Symposium, August 17-22, Cairns, Australia.

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