Mainland water still flows despite full dams

PUBLISHED : Monday, 02 July, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2001, 12:00am

Water contracts with the mainland should take into account seasonal rainfall to avoid spending millions of dollars on wasted supplies, legislators have said.

The call came after Hong Kong's wettest June since records began in 1884, delivering enough water to meet local demands for five months, according to the Water Supplies Department. A total of 1,051mm of rainfall was recorded last month, three times the monthly average.

But despite 13 of the SAR's 17 reservoirs being full, the 790 million cubic metres of Dongjiang River water contracted for this year cannot be reduced, the department said. Each cubic metre costs $3.085 under the present contract.

In 1999, the latest figure available, the Government paid $92.5 million for 30 million cubic metres of excess Dongjiang water, which was never delivered because it was not needed. The Dongjiang accounts for 80 to 85 per cent of the SAR's water supply.

Democratic Party legislator Fred Li Wah-ming said inflexible contracts wasted money and were environmentally unfriendly. 'In a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee last year, we severely criticised the Government for spending money on unused Dongjiang water,' he said.

Guangdong authorities had never backed down in previous negotiations regardless of the amount and quality of Dongjiang water supplied, he said.

But department senior engineer Roger Lam Man-pang argued that while the annual contracts were inflexible, they helped keep costs down. He said Shenzhen's water demands could disrupt Hong Kong's supplies if a fixed amount were not agreed beforehand.