Government mulls rise in water fines

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 22 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 July, 2006, 12:00am

Fines for people misusing the water supply and committing other offences such as installing water filters without permission could soar five-fold under proposals to bring the penalty system up to date.

Legislators from a committee studying revisions to the Waterworks Ordinance and Waterworks Regulations met government officials yesterday.

The authorities said existing fines for offences had not been revised for at least two decades. The proposal is that fines be adjusted in line with inflation and the standard scale of fines under the Criminal Procedure Ordinance. The scale of the increase would be around 150 to 400 per cent.

The maximum fine for people polluting water in reservoirs would increase from $20,000 to $50,000 and that for taking water from public standpipes illegally for non-domestic purpose would jump from $5,000 to $25,000.

Anyone caught using fresh water for flushing illegally would face a fine of up to $10,000 instead of the present $4,000 - the same for installing and using water filters without permission.

'You do not break the law by pouring fresh water into the toilet tank for flushing. You only break the law by permanently connecting the fresh water pipe to the toilet tank,' said Bobby Ng Mang-tung, assistant director of water supplies.

The government said the move conformed with the Basic Law, including provisions concerning human rights, and was in line with promoting sustainable use of natural resources.

Democratic Party legislator Fred Li Wah-ming urged the government to consider decriminalising the water filter offence.