Flood control system takes top prize

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 15 July, 2012, 12:00am


An innovative plan to combat flooding in Happy Valley by building a huge tank under the racecourse that can store enough storm water to fill 24 swimming pools has won an international award for innovation.

The Drainage Services Department has taken the top prize for planning in the International Water Association's Project Innovation Awards for East Asia.

Around HK$1 billion has been allocated to build the enormous 60,000 cubic metre storage plant, which will form part of a HK$10 billion programme to eliminate the city's remaining flooding hot spots.

The big innovation, according to the judges, is that there will be active monitoring and control of the weir leading into the water tank.

This means that the tank will start receiving storm water at just the right time, and then discharge it through the regular drainage system in Happy Valley and Wan Chai when it is safe to do so.

Judges said the system would provide 'a drainage solution that works with nature in a time of climatic uncertainty' and praised the department for being 'keen to identify a sustainable alternative to simply just 'throwing more drains at the flooding problem''.

The Drainage Services Department said the first of two formal phases of the Happy Valley project would be commissioned before the start of the 2015 rainy season, with completion expected in 2018.

'This award is recognition for the work we are doing,' said Kelvin Lau Ngai-fai of scheme consultant Black and Veatch.

'Because it is innovative and different it stands out from other projects we have done,' said Lau. 'The fact that all the stakeholders involved support this scheme makes a huge difference as well.'

Happy Valley has long been a flooding black spot, with the low-lying Happy Valley recreation ground, at the centre of the racetrack, particularly susceptible. Storms in June 2008 saw the area completely flooded.

The planned works will have an effect on those who use the recreation ground, however. Seven sports pitches will be closed in two phases, and services provided by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department will be suspended temporarily during construction.

But new landscaping and the restoration of the jogging trail will follow when the work is completed.

The IWA established the Project Innovation Awards Programme in recognition of excellent and innovative water engineering projects around the world.

A group including the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Water Supplies Department and the Drainage Services Department was also honoured in the awards, receiving second prize in the applied research category for its efforts to make better use of sea water as a resource.