MacRitchie Reservoir is Singapore's oldest reservoir. The reservoir was completed in 1868 by impounding water from an earth embankment, and was then known as the Impounding Reservoir or Thomson Reservoir.HistoryBefore the early 19th century, most of the Singapore main island was covered by primary forest. Soon after the British established a settlement in Singapore in 1819 and commercial activity took root, there was a demand for fresh water. However, it was decades before the settlement's first fresh water supply was established.Between 1820 and 1870, a substantial portion of the virgin forest was cleared to assist Singapore in becoming an important trading post. Prior to this, Chinese planters had also worked the forested land for timber and the cultivation of crops like gambier, pepper and rubber. By 1886, only 10% of the original forest cover remained.In 1823, British Resident John Crawfurd proposed the building of a reservoir and waterworks, setting aside $1,000 for these plans but nothing came of them. Another plan that ended up in smoke was the idea to tap the headwaters of Singapore Creek.Finally, in 1857, Straits Chinese merchant 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 – the cost of the new reservoir was $100,000 – but colonial headquarters in Calcutta refused to make up the rest of the cost. When Tan died in 1864, the reservoir was no nearer completion.
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