Singapore's water warrior

Singapore's water warrior
Waterways Watch Society chairman Eugene Heng helping to keep Marina Reservoir clean. He picks up flotsam from waterways every weekend.

SINGAPORE - Littering is not just bad for the environment - the rubbish you throw haphazardly could end up polluting the source of your drinking water.

That is the message Mr Eugene Heng, founder and chairman of environmental group Waterways Watch Society (WWS), wants to drive home, as Singapore continues to find effective solutions to tackle littering.

Yesterday, the 65-year-old retiree received the President's Award for the Environment - Singapore's highest environmental accolade - from President Tony Tan Keng Yam. The other award recipients were the Institute of Technical Education and Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

In the past, water in the drains would end up in the sea, said Mr Heng. "But today, the drains are actually collection systems for our drinking water. They are not for you to dump rubbish," he said.

"The right mindset is very important, and that is the challenge we have."

Mr Heng should know. He has, after all, spent the past 16 years monitoring Singapore's waterways and picking up litter in canals and rivers here.

Mr Heng and his volunteers spend at least two hours every weekend picking up flotsam along waterways such as Marina Reservoir, Punggol Waterway and Kallang River.

On getting the award, he said: "It goes to (WWS) members. I can't do all this by myself."

This article was first published on September 3, 2014.
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