Keeping Changi clean, naturally

May 2023



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Water Lily Garden in Terminal 1


Gardens and water features are an integral part of Changi Airport’s design. In Terminal 1 (T1) alone, travellers are able to enjoy both an outdoor Water Lily Garden, as well the new Piazza Garden, where for the first time, Changi has incorporated see-through ponds in the garden design, for a refreshed passenger experience.

Children entranced by colourful fishes in the see-through pond at Piazza Garden in T1


While it is mesmerising for visitors to watch the colourful fish at different angles at these see-through ponds, additional maintenance effort is required, as algae in the pond can build-up quite quickly, especially as the area is lighted 24/7.  

If left to grow, there’s a risk that the algae will obscure the sides of the pond, as well as deplete oxygen for the plants and fish in the pond. While suckerfish has been included as part of the natural habitat in the pond, it is not possible to control the areas that these fish choose to “clean”.

Under the current maintenance regime, workers will cordon off the area once a week and scrub the sides of the pond. Sometimes, they even need to don wet gear and step into the ponds to scrub hard to reach spots. Thereafter, they need to use a special vacuum to get rid of the algae from the water. This process can be time consuming, as well as labour intensive. 


Left: worker scrubbing the floor of the pond;  right: worker in wet gear, scrubbing a hard-to- reach spot 


Worker using a special vacuum to remove the algae that had just been scrubbed off


Always on the lookout for innovative solutions which can help improve work processes and productivity, Rose Chia, Senior Associate, Horticulture, had been researching for alternative ways to keep ponds algae free since a few years ago. 

Rose’s search for ways to improve the efficiency of pond maintenance led her to Alpha Grace Enviro-Tech Pte. Ltd (AGE), a company which provides specialised environmental solutions as alternatives to traditional and chemical-based treatment, offering their customers green sustainable solutions.

Rose Chia at the T1 pond during one of her site walks


Intrigued by AGE’s bio solutions, Rose first embarked on a trial using the company’s microbial-based product at one of the ponds at Changi Airport’s own nursery several years ago. The microbial-based product, which contained a blend of enzymes and micro-organisms, is designed to break down algae organically when poured into the pond. At the end of the trial, a water quality test confirmed that the microbes had reduced the amount of algae in the pond.

A few years later, observing the challenge in maintaining the ponds at T1's Piazza Garden, Rose decided to revisit the bio solution offered by AGE, to see if works better at this location.  During the month-long trial, the company’s technical experts analysed the pond habitat and gradually adjusted the type of microbes used to ensure the solution’s suitability to limit algae growth in the pond. The trial results demonstrated that the product proved effective in limiting algae growth, and was safe for humans, fish and aquatic plants. Strength lies in company’s ability to customise each blend of microbes to resolve the problem.

Rose shared, “We are pleased to observe that the bio solution provided by AGE has helped to reduce algae growth in our pond. Hopefully, once this solution is implemented, we can reduce the manual scrubbing efforts from the current once a week, down to twice a month, and ultimately, to just once a month. Improving the effectiveness of our ponds’ cleaning regime not only improves productivity, it also reduces the down time that passengers’ have to enjoy the tranquil surroundings at T1 Central Piazza.” 


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