Pool showers drain on resources
Cheung Chi-fai and Michael Au
Some public swimming pools are operating inefficient showers that spray out as much as 14 litres of water per minute, an inspection by the South China Morning Post has found.
Visits to five local pool complexes found shower heads tested at two complexes failed to attain the top performing standards in water efficiency, while another two only just meet the top standard.
At Sha Tin's Jockey Club complex, the biggest water consumer in a recent audit of swimming pools commissioned by the Water Supplies Department, two of the 30 showers splash out water at a rate up to 60 per cent faster than the most water-efficient ones. The two shower heads are capable of spraying 11.4 litres and 14.4 litres per minute, compared to the minimum requirement of no more than 9 litres required for a shower to qualify as grade-one product under the voluntary water efficiency labelling scheme.
Instead, the devices would only be rated as grade three, the second least efficient standard.
The Post's inspection also found the showers in the public pools were not standardised, with some using button or lever switches. Duration of flows also vary.
The Sha Tin pool shower is equipped with button-type showers which will automatically stop between six and 11 seconds after the button is pushed, the tests show.
A swimming complex in Kowloon Tsai also uses button-type showers, but its shower heads are firmly fixed to the wall and there is only one operating mode. Two shower tests found the water flowed for two and five seconds respectively.
The water flowed longest at Fanling pool, pouring away for up to 30 seconds. But the lower flow rate means it wastes less water, spraying out only about 7 litres per minute, which is among the lowest found at the five pools.
While button-type showers are considered to be more water efficient as they control how long the water flows for, they do not necessarily perform better than the lever-type design, which keeps flowing until the user turns it off, if the right shower head design is in place.
At the Morrison Hill pool complex in Wan Chai, where lever switches have replaced the old button switches and multimode shower heads are installed, the showers only flow at a rate of 9 litres per minute, barely meeting the top labelling standard.
In Kowloon Park, the showers, controlled by lever switches, spray as little as 2.8 litres of water per minute, from outdated shower heads.