Singapore's recreational water quality guidelines for recreational beaches and fresh water bodies are adopted from the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards (2003).
The National Environment Agency (NEA) had studied the WHO guidelines, collected data for the past few years and, in consultation with other organisations**, established Singapore's guidelines in August 2008. The revised guidelines were based on the microbial indicator, enterococcus (a type of bacteria found in the faeces of human and warm blooded animals) which corresponds better with the health risks associated with the use of recreational beach water, compared to the previous indicator, faecal coliform.
(** Note:- Ministry of Health, Public Utilities Board, Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore, the National University of Singapore, the Nanyang Technological University).
Singapore's Water Quality Guidelines for Recreational Beaches and Fresh Water Bodies
The guidelines are used to assess the suitability of a recreational beach or fresh water body for primary contact activities (e.g. swimming, skiing and wakeboarding) where:
- the whole body or the face and trunk are frequently immersed; or
- it is likely that some water will be swallowed.
Activities such as canoeing, dragon boating, kayaking are not primary contact activities.
From August 2008, the parameters used to assess the water quality are as follows:
For recreational beaches:
- 95% of the time, the Enterococcus counts should be less than or equal to 200 counts per 100 millilitres of water;
- Susceptibility of the location to faecal influence;
- Only beaches classified as 'Good' and above will be considered suitable for primary contact activities.
For fresh water bodies:
95% of the time,
- the Enterococcus counts should be less than or equal to 200 counts per 100 millilitres of water; and
- Chlorophyll-a concentration should be less than or equal to 50 micrograms per litre of water.
Water Quality of Singapore's Recreational Beaches
NEA conducts weekly sampling of water quality from the six (6) recreational beaches listed below:
- Sentosa Island Beaches (Siloso beach, Palawan beach, Tanjong beach)
- Seletar Island Beach
- Sembawang Park Beach
- Changi Beach
- East Coast Park Beach
- Pasir Ris Beach