So, why are we afraid of water?

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 March, 2006, 12:00am

A poll has shown nearly two-thirds of people think tap water is unsafe to drink, prompting a green group to urge water chiefs to find out why.

The Water Supplies Department has repeatedly assured customers water is safe straight from the tap, provided building pipes meet its standards. The Conservancy Association, which carried out the poll, said the department should consider why such a misconception was so widespread.

A department spokesman said it would consider whether more publicity and education was needed.

The poll this month of 263 people found respondents split about equally on whether water from Guangdong was clean or polluted, although two-thirds were satisfied with the water's quality after treatment. Nevertheless, nearly two-thirds believed the water was not safe for drinking, even if problems with water pipes were dealt with.

The department has issued certificates to more than 4,000 buildings covering a million households which have met pipe maintenance standards since 2002. Drinking water in these buildings is supposedly safe for direct consumption.

Conservancy Association head Lister Cheung Lai-ping said even a minor mistake in cleaning a drinking water tank could affect quality and residents' confidence in supply. More than two-thirds of those polled felt the chance of a crisis, such as rationing or pollution, affecting the water supply to be low.

Ms Cheung said most people took it for granted that they would get a stable supply of good-quality water, but she said that could not be assured unless people living near Hong Kong's main source of fresh water, the Dongjiang in Guangdong, protected the water.