November 8, 2020
Photos by: Caroline Chia | Words and video by: Stacey Rodrigues

(Video above) Mr Eugene Heng, CEO and founder of Waterways Watch Society (WWS) spends his retirement educating and engaging residents about the importance of preserving and protecting Singapore’s water environment.

Every single day, our trash, when not discarded properly, is washed or blown into drains and canals, which run into our reservoirs — a crucial source of our drinking water.

Mr Eugene Heng, CEO and founder of Waterways Watch Society (WWS), has spent the last 22 years trying to educate and engage residents about the importance of the water environment and keeping it clean.

Waterways Watch Society volunteers at work

(Above) Volunteers from a corporate social responsibility (CSR) programme kayak around the Kallang Basin to pick litter that is washed into the reservoir.

“My main mission is the education of the water environment,” says Mr Heng. “It is an opportunity to engage, most importantly. If you don’t do such activities, you are never exposed. You become very short-sighted.”

The retiree is so committed to his cause that he will continue to push for water environment education “until my last dollar is spent.”

Waterways Watch Society volunteers at work

(Above) Discarded  plastic bags are a common sight in these waters, but these days cleaners find disposable masks too.

Based at the Kallang Riverside Park, Mr Heng and his team of six run educational programmes, including a litter-picking kayaking tour around the reservoir, to engage participants and show them the impact of urban living on our water catchment areas. The charity has two other branch offices in Punggol and Jurong Lake Gardens. Every week, his team of volunteers conduct regular patrols at Kallang, Punggol and Jurong to monitor and clean up the local waterways.

When Covid-19 hit, all their programmes were cancelled from January 2020, and WWS lost potential revenue of $150,000 — money that would be used to keep their facility and educational programmes going. Now with Phase 2 firmly in place and Phase 3 coming soon, corporates and schools are slowly starting to engage with WWS again.

Waterways Watch Society volunteers at work

(Above) A team of volunteers weigh their trash collection after an hour of kayaking. Every day, 10,000kg of trash is reported to be collected from the Marina Catchment.

“Littering and cleanliness are important things,” says Mr Heng. “We believe that it’s everybody’s responsibility to know and appreciate our water. We believe that water is life.”

Waterways Watch Society also conducts land and coastal clean-up activities. Find out more about the charity and how you can play a part in keeping Singapore’s waterways clean, www.wws.org.sg 

The Storytellers

  • Caroline loves photography and trekking, and never turns down a trip to the mountains.

  • Stacey’s two favourite things are telling stories and cooking. Her philosophy for tackling both is imagination, immersion, and a dash of her special sauce.

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