The Lower Peirce Reservoir (Chinese: 贝雅士蓄水池下段 Malay: Takungan Air Lower Peirce) is one of the oldest reservoirs in Singapore. It is located near MacRitchie Reservoir and Upper Peirce Reservoir. Previously known as Kallang River Reservoir and Peirce Reservoir, it was renamed Lower Peirce Reservoir after the creation of Upper Peirce Reservoir. It has a surface area of 6 hectares and the surrounding forest contains many trees that are over 100 years old. There is a Lower Peirce Trail, which is a 900-metre boardwalk that takes visitors through a mature secondary forest. The reservoir is the source of the Kallang River, the longest river in Singapore.
Originally known as the Kallang River Reservoir, Singapore's second reservoir was impounded across the lower reaches of the Kallang River in 1910. In 1922, it was renamed Peirce Reservoir in commendation of the services of Robert Peirce, who was the municipal engineer of Singapore from 1901 to 1916.
In 1975, a major water supply project to develop new water resources was undertaken to support Singapore's rapid housing and industrialisation programmes. A dam was constructed at the upper reaches of the Peirce Reservoir, forming the Upper and Lower Peirce Reservoirs.
Upper Peirce Reservoir was officially opened by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew on 27 February 1977.
The Kallang River Reservoir was planned by his predecessors (possibly MacRitchie), implemented by Robert Peirce beginning in 1902 and opened in March 1912. Its history and design were described in the Straits Times.
Peirce was warmly praised for his work: 'Singapore now has one of the finest water supplies in the world, and to get that on a tiny island which has no river much bigger than a ditch must have meant long and earnest study and a fine capacity for making the most of available means'
Before coming to Singapore, Peirce was engineer to the Municipal Commissioners of George Town, Penang. He started his career articled to the late Mr. R. Vawser, M. Inst. C.E., of Manchester but spent several years in Birmingham, where he was engaged as resident engineer for the corporation working on the construction of cable tramways. Before arriving in Penang, Peirce was employed as assistant to Pritchard & Co., civil engineers, of London and Birmingham
In Penang, Peirce was responsible for the design of the Queen Victoria clock after winning a design competition; Jalan Peirce is named after him.
In Singapore, he was also responsible for the Anderson Bridge, completed in 1910.
Here is the entry in Who's Who in the Far East 1906/7: "PEIRCE, Robert (SINGAPORE), M.I.C.K.; Municipal Engineer; b. Jan. 21, 1863. Educ. : Manchester, England. During 1880-1891 engaged on construction of Drainage, Water Works, Bridges and Tramways in Lancashire, Worcestershire, Warwickshire and Herefordshire; prepared scheme and despatched all materials and plant for Water Supply of Pretoria, South Africa; appointed Municipal Engineer, Penang, by General Sir Andrew Clarke, in 1891; resigned to take up appointment of Municipal Engineer, Singapore, in 1901; during service in Straits Settlements has designed and constructed Roads, Bridges, Sea Walls, Reservoirs, Drains, Abattoirs, Sewerage Systems and Jetties; last work being the raising of dam of Impounding Reservoirs."
An interesting footnote: In 1923, the Municipal Engineer Col Pearson made allegations about defective work on the 'Kallang Reservoir Dam'. He went so far as to raise the question as to whether the Municipal engineering staff (Peirce and his deputy Williams) may have colluded with the contractor to use sub-standard clay which resulted in leakage in the dam. There was extensive newspaper coverage over 3 days in April 1923 and discussion in the Municipal Commission. From his retirement, Peirce wrote a lengthy letter to defend the work. This is an interesting example of the open debate and discussion that occurred in the Municipal Commission and its willingness to use full media disclosure to address allegations of corruption.
Peirce died in 1933 in Gibraltar.
Under the Boundaries and Survey Maps (Conduct of Cadastral Surveys) Rules, the Lower Peirce Reservoir is also home of the reference point used for Singapore's geodetic co-ordinate datum or SVY21. The location is at latitude 1°22’02.915414" N, longitude 103° 49’31.975227" E and is marked by a green pillar. Under Singapore Land Authority's Guidelines and Specifications for GPS Surveys of ISN Markers, surveyors in Singapore are required to conduct a gross error test of their GPS equipment at this reference point.
Various wild fauna can be found here. In the forest, one may find some of the elusive animals, such as lesser mouse-deer, buffy fish owl, reticulated python and Haas' bronzeback. Other more common forest animals include wild boar, slender squirrel and green crested lizard. In the reservoir, one may find Asian softshell turtle, water monitor and common snakehead. Other birds that can be found here include the resident grey-headed fish eagle, Sunda scops owl, blue-eared kingfisher, cream-vented bulbul, Abbott's babbler and purple-throated sunbird, as well as the migrant black-backed kingfisher, orange-headed thrush and green-backed flycatcher.
Lower Peirce Reservoir Park is located along Old Upper Thomson Road. Visitors travelling by car can find parking facilities along the road near the Casuarina Entrance. Visitors travelling by public buses can board service numbers 163, 167, 169, 855 and 980.