Beneath Fort Canning is a 92-year-old reservoir that still supplies drinkable water to CBD area

Think you know enough about Singapore? Think again.

Zi Shan Kow | December 24, 2021, 11:54 PM

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Beneath Fort Canning, about nine metres below ground, are two underground unreinforced concrete tanks that store treated water ready for drinking.

Although the Fort Canning Service Reservoir is inaccessible to public, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment Grace Fu, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching took a behind-the-scenes look on Dec. 15.

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Stores drinking water

Unlike catchment reservoirs like MacRitchie and Jurong Lake that collect rainwater, service reservoirs receive and store treated, potable water from the waterworks, according to PUB.

Fort Canning Service Reservoir is one of Singapore’s oldest functioning service reservoirs, built by the British in 1929 to meet the increased water demand in the city centre.

With the exception of a break during the war years when it was damaged, the reservoir has been serving Singapore for 92 years.

According to, it was built on the site of the former artillery barracks and parade ground, which was torn down due to lack of use.

Roof resembles a giant honeycomb

The service reservoir is made up of 264 enormous hexagonal domes laid side by side, spanning an area of over seven acres underground (about 2.8 hectares).

With a 37-feet-tall honeycomb-shaped roof (about 11.3 metres), supported by uniquely hexagonal concrete columns, the reservoir is reminiscent of an ancient European architecture.

Image by Lee Hsien Loong.

Image by MCI.

The reservoir was built using unreinforced concrete.

The choice was economical, and also practical for the structure to withstand the high stress exerted by water pressure.

Supplies water to CBD

Before the Fort Canning Service Reservoir was built, Singapore’s reserve supply could only provide the population with half a day’s water consumption.

The reservoir expanded this capacity to two days of water supply.

Today, it continues to play an important role in managing Singapore’s water supply and ensuring that Singapore has enough water to meet its needs.

It supplies clean drinking water to city areas such as the Central Business District, Marina Bay, as well as areas like Bugis, Lavender and Boon Keng, together with Pearl’s Hill Service Reservoir.

The service reservoir primarily collects water from Murnane Service Reservoir, Woodleigh Waterworks and water boosted through Bukit Timah Waterworks.

The reservoir is usually submerged in water and it is emptied out once every decade for physical inspection.

Fu said that the reservoir was found to be in good working condition during the visit.

In his Facebook post, PM Lee reminded Singaporeans about the importance of using water mindfully.

"Water is a vital resource for Singapore. Climate change may well affect the reliability of our rainfall, we must do our best to conserve water and use it responsibly," he wrote.

Learn more about the reservoir here:

Top images by and Lee Hsien Loong/FB.