|Over 100 ha of primary forest still flourish in the Central Catchment Nature Reserve in Singapore, particularly around the MacRitchie Reservoir area. Be awed by giant trees like the Jelutong (Dyera costulata) and the Seraya (Shorea curtisii). The Shorea is the characteristic tree of the lowland forest here.
Soon after 1819 there was a demand for fresh water. It was only decades before the settlement's first fresh water supply was established. There were a few proposal in building a reservoir and/or waterworks but nothing came of them. In 1857, Tan Kim Seng donated $13,000 for the improvement of the town's waterworks but delays, poor planning and use of the wrong building materials ate into the budget. New plans were drawn up for an impounding reservoir in Thomson. Tan's money was insufficient. When Tan died in 1864, the reservoir was no nearer completion. Construction was eventually completed in 1868, this brought the deforestation activities to halt, but the pumps and distributing network were not finished until 1877.
By this time, public confidence in the government's ability was dented. In 1882, in a move to salvage its reputation, the Municipal Council erected a fountain in Fullerton Square in honour of Tan Kim Seng. The fountain was later moved to Queen Elizabeth Walk. In 1891, the holding capacity of the Impounding Reservoir was expanded to over 465 million gallons. Municipal Engineer James MacRitchie oversaw this $32,000 expansion and the reservoir was named after him in 1922. However, the reservoir's 4 million gallons a day were still insufficient to meet demand. With more reservoirs built, but the government realized that Singapore would not be able to meet its own fresh water needs. In 1927, a water treaty was signed with the Sultan of Johor. Singapore received its first supply of water from Johor in 1932.
MacRitchie Reservoir became a popular weekend recreational ground soon after it opened in 1967. The fountain is a landmark that draws many visitors. In June 2003 (construction began Nov 2000), National Parks Board launched new trails at MacRitchie, with exception of 'Golf Link', the trails are named after tree species commonly found along the trails - Prunus, Petai, Chemperai, Jering and Petaling.
Every 2nd Sunday of the month, 2 free guided walks - "Getting to Know MacRitchie" and "Botanical Wonders of MacRitchie". Registration to call 6554- 5127.