Waters Edge flood retention tank development :
Creating a new waterfront culture
* Restaurants and high end shopping malls
* Landing dock for Sri Jayawardenapura
*Cruise dining opportunities
*Amphitheatre near Parliament drive
The lush greenery and the serene waters of Diyawanna by the side of
the parliament drive between Rajagiriya and Battaramulla has become a
captivating sight for many people who are passing this way daily to and
from work in the hustle and bustle of the Colombo city.
many months people saw how that narrow strip of Diyawanna oya spreading
its presence to the nearby greenery with heavy machinery engaged in a 24
hour job in all seven days of the week uninterrupted to make a big
difference in the surrounding. Now exactly one year after the
commencement of that work people see a vast difference in the
surrounding giving them a soothing effect to their eyes to think afresh
of their daily affairs. So that project which was initiated as a quick
solution for the flooding in Colombo and suburbs with the creation of
retention tanks are slowly turning into one of the major attraction in
the city now.
Sri Lanka Land Reclamation and Development Corporation (LRDC) now
operating under the Ministry of Defence and Urban Development Authority
has completed the water retention and flood control under the phase one
of the project by December 31 as scheduled.
“With the completion of the water retention and flood control which
we did with the man power and all the facilities made available we baked
a rich cake. That cost us a lot. Now what we are doing is the icing part
of it. That gives more impact which doesn't cost that much”, explaining
what is going on at Waters Edge retention area development project at
Battaramulla, Harshan de Silva Chairman of the Sri Lanka Land
Reclamation and Development Corporation said.
It was a concept of the Secretary to the Defence and Urban
Development, Gotabaya Rajapaksa to keep all these dredged and developed,
unattended the LRDC along with the Sri Lanka Navy continued with
beautification or the icing part of it. “Secretary Defence continuously
and categorically told us not to simply dredge and leave water fronts
but to give something for the community also through that waterfront by
making it an attractive and useful one”, he added.
An amphitheatre by the side of the parliament drive facing this water
body was created under this concept to cater to the common masses.
“Amphitheatre is open for anybody who wants to perform something or
use for some public activity. They can meet us and get permission to use
it. There will be a nominal fee for the electricity and other
facilities. But it is as good as free”, he added.
Through this project the LRDC is focusing on the ordinary people and,
people can have their function or during New Year, Christmas, Vesak,
31st night or any other function. It also can be used to have giant TV
screens during cricket matches or any other event.
The lawn by the side of the amphitheatre is also open for the common
people to come at any time and stay till any time with their families or
for self relaxation. .
“But the users should not take undue advantage by creating chaos and
making other men suffer. For that we have created a few guidelines for
the betterment of the common masses making use of the place. Accordingly
there should not be mobile stalls there”, he added.
The walkways created has also facilitated the people specially in an
urban context to jog, walk, run cycle and or do whatever they like
making use of the facility.
“You can come with your family members or friends or with your pets
and spend time at the lovely water front. The soggy green area across
the water front will provide a fresh and eye soothing environment for
the users”, he added.
Apart from that, steps have been taken to put some sails on the water
just to please the eyes of the people visiting there.
“When you see nice things you can refresh your mind and the tense and
disturbing ideas also slowly disappear. For that, in a very subtle way a
slow message is sent across through architecture through, town planning,
through urban designing , into the society at large”, Harshan de Silva
who is an architect by profession said.
While the major part of the area is set for the human being a few
islands have been kept for the wild life at the centre of the lake.
But to keep the area intact from encroachers living adjoining the
LRDC steps have been taken to cut peripheral canals.
“If you leave a piece of land people come and encroach on it.
Therefore we always cut peripheral canals in all these retention areas”,
When developing the Waters Edge retention tank, the LRDC also came
across a problematic situation due to the presence of a garbage dumping
site and land fills which have not been managed properly.
The filling of these lands has not been done properly and when Waters
Edge dredging continued, a water quality test proved that the quality of
water was poor. Though people used to bathe in the upstream, in the
downstream the water quality was getting deteriorated and it was
“So when we checked on it we detected a huge garbage dumping yard
which had been there for a couple of decades as the cause for the water
contamination”, he added.
Then steps were taken to avoid water being contaminated as an
had to do that. It was not possible for us to clean the entire area as
it was a vast area. So what we did was what we had lost from our
retention from that side we dredged it from the side where the lake is.
Now we are putting good solid earth where garbage was earlier and trying
to utilize that space at least for some development”, de Silva added.
“That was the phase one of the Waters Edge project which we started
in 2011. Our target was to finish it by December 31, 2011 which we
managed to do and we held the first musical show on December 31 night
and that part of the project was open for the public”, he added.
“This project was on time and within the budget. That was something I
thought was very good. I never left any room for error. All the work
what we did were monitored by us our engineers, supervisors. We also
should thank the Sri Lanka Navy. They did all the external part of the
project with the beautification of the area”, he added.
“This is the government sector attitude now. This is a very clear
message given in a very subtle way. This is how we should work. Those
who engage in the project are government servants. We also have Trade
Unions in this organisation. But I am very happy to say that when there
is a good leader, there is very clear cut directives from top to bottom.
All the trade unions get the message and every body irrespective of
their political affiliations got together and did this job. It was a
trend setter for the Government sector”, he added.
With the completion of the phase one of the Waters Edge project was
on schedule, the phase two of the project also commenced with the dawn
of the year 2012
“Now we have won our race at the first phase and we found the reasons
for any mistakes and our drawbacks. We know our strengths and we are
working on those strengths in the year 2012 to complete the second
phase”, he added.
“At the next stage what we have to do is to interconnect our work
with other organisations like SriLankan Airlines”, he added.
SriLankan is looking for places to land sea planes and at the moment
they are landing at Kelani river as the LRDC finished the 1.3 long and
60 metres wide Dadugam Oya strip for them in Gampaha district.
That was the starting point and SriLankan is looking at bringing
overseas tourists to Katunayake and to Dadugam oya. From there they are
being airlifted to wherever the destination they like. It can be either
Sigiriya, Hambantota, Iranamadu. Koggala wherever the areas where water
But, Colombo the commercial capital, and Sri Jayawardenapura, the
administrative capital did not have two landing strips.
“Therefore we thought of East Beira as our runway for the Colombo
area and Waters Edge as the runway for the Sri Jayawardenapura. That
runway will be dredged perpendicular to what we have done”, de Silva
Accordingly, all hillocks in the waters edge lake will be removed as
they take most valuable space where water can be retained. When they are
removed water will flow into that area.
“So flooding is controlled and we are getting additional support
services to have a runway for the SriLankan and a helipad for the Air
Force for their helicopters”, he added.
Along with this program the bridge across Diyawanna oya on the
Parliament drive will also be widened.
“The bridge that we have here is very small and a huge amount of
obstacles creats huge bottlenecks for the flow of water. Water from the
upstream in the parliament side doesn't flow because of this. So we are
going to widen this bridge three times to what we have now. So it will
be a huge, slightly elevated unobstructed bridge where even boats can go
underneath”, he added.
With these developments the area will further open up for some
restaurants and boutiques where you have lots of high end shopping and
The huge water front to be created at the second phase of the project
will also include some villas which are going to be built on water,
giving a new concept for tourism.
“We know that we are short of room for tourists. When we say room,
Villas can also be rooms. When we have operators like Waters Edge which
is run by the UDA and outsourced to some other organisation or any other
party, we can manage these villas”, he added.
“We will create a new water front culture, when developing these
water bodies. For this, we are not pumping money.
What we are doing is we give the concept, we give the planning and
designing and monitor it. Private sector also come in and participate
and build these kind of villas and small restaurants”, he added.
“We are the authority and we will never let sewer or waste water into
the water body”, he added.
The concept of having villas enable people who want to spend a
weekend leisurely beside water, just five minutes drive from Colombo and
can have the opportunity to watch sea planes land and take off from the
windows fronting the runway.
In addition, camp sites will also be created over looking the runway
and for the children to come and learn about the environment.“Similarly
we create some eco-parks for the children to come and study at
campsites. Now people go either to Kukuleganga or Boossa or places like.
We are going to have this in the heart of Sri Jayawardenapura”, he
will be a kind of waterfront campsite which you will see in any other
country, but not here earlier. So whatever we lacked in the form of
experience we are creating here. Of course we are not spending state
funds for all these things.
We are spending for the development of the water body, the rest of it
has to be a joint venture with private entities and we will give them
the guideline and the design of that and they can be a part of it on
profit sharing basis”, he added.
“We also get money to maintain this place, because everyday this
won't be under the Ministry of Defence and military personnel won't be
there to do all these things. This has to be self sustaining and a
maintenance mechanism has to be evolved for the corporation to survive”,
“Therefore we will be giving various kinds of licenses for boats and
it will be for a fee for using this water body, like the way people pay
a toll when they are using the highway. Similarly a private sector
company can come and place their boats paying a fee to the LRDC”, he
added.On certain areas motor boats are allowed and on certain areas only
non-motor boats are allowed because of the pollution factors.
“Then we will have cruise dining where people can come and dine on
these boats. There will also be opportunities for tours creating water
bodies all around and connecting them each other for water related
In Thalawathugoda we are creating such place for the people to go
like in Madu ganga creating islands all over, for the children to study
the fauna and flora”, he added.
“There will be quite a lot to offer. This is just a start and may be
five percent of the total water front development”, de Silva added.
Through the development of these water bodies environmental impact
will be positive. “When you are filling land there may be an
environmental impact. But we are not going to create this entire city
with only water.
The area will consist of water and greenery both. We are doing a
balance in the water bodies and wherever we can maximise water retention
we will get only those areas leaving natural beauty. We are not going to
touch the greenery”, he added.
Therefore in keeping with all these factors the LRDC is determined to
complete the second phase of the Waters Edge development in one year.
For the infrastructure it will need one year but for the villas and
others we will have to get investors and it will take another one year.
By 2013 we will see the Secretary Defence realise his dream, he added.