A winding river in new Bishan Park

Residents in Bishan and Ang Mo Kio can soon get closer to water and nature, with a revamped Bishan Park.

To re-open officially by the middle of next month, the redeveloped 62 ha park sports a meandering river carved out of a concrete canal.

But, besides offering residents a new recreational experience, the river can help to slow the flow of rainwater so that downstream waterways have more time to drain, which helps to prevent them from overflowing in times of heavy rain.

This is possible because of features such as the river's winding design, as well as vegetation and use of bio-engineered soil along the banks of the river.

The river originates from the Kallang River and flows into Marina Reservoir.

The river's capacity is also 40 per cent more than when it was a canal.

The $76.7-million Bishan Park redevelopment project, by National Parks Board (NParks) and national water agency PUB, has been in the works for over two years. It is part of PUB's Active, Beautiful, Clean Waters programme.

Visitors to the park can engage in recreational water activities on the 3km-long river in the park, when the tide is low.

Parents, for example, can bring their children to wade in the water. They are also free to catch fish from the river with nets.

But public safety will not be neglected, said PUB's director of catchment and waterways, Mr Tan Nguan Sen, at a media conference yesterday. A series of safety monitoring features, including water-level sensors, depth markers and close-circuit televisions, have been placed along the river.

In the event of heavy rain, sirens will be sounded and public announcements urging people to move out of the water will be made via the park's speakers.

There are more dedicated spaces for visitors to gather at the park as well, with a new sheltered pavilion and a Riverside Gallery for community events.

Three new play areas have also been set aside. This includes a bubble playground featuring colourful rubber mounds and an adventure playground with climbing facilities.

The size of the popular dog run area has been doubled, with more benches and water coolers added for the convenience of dog owners.

Ms Marie Tan, 27, a contracts manager who often visited the park before it was closed for redevelopment, said: "I will enjoy the landscape of the park more now, and may bring my dog to the dog run more often."

NParks said that it expects the revamped Bishan Park to receive 3.5 million visits from parkgoers across the island each year, up from three million annual visits before the redevelopment.

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