Bureau aims to reduce water waste with efficiency drive

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 June, 2009, 12:00am

About 1,300 government buildings and schools will be equipped with water-saving devices beginning this month, a move aimed at cutting their consumption by up to 10 per cent.

The project, expected to take two years and cost HK$160 million, will cover buildings with water devices that are more than 10 years old.

Low-flow taps and shower heads, equipped with sensors, are expected to save about two-thirds of the water used by conventional ones. Dual-flush cisterns and urinals with sensors are also expected to reduce use.

It is hoped the measures will save 2 million cubic metres of fresh water and 800,000 cubic metres of salt water a year, equal to between 5 and 10 per cent of the total that government buildings use every year.

Bobby Ng Mang-tung, assistant director of the Water Supplies Department, said the project would also reduce sewage-treatment costs and water bills by HK$12 million a year.

The projects will create about 140 construction jobs, including professional staff and workers.

The department's senior engineer, Suen Kwok-keung, said that ultimately all 800 government buildings would be equipped with such devices. To encourage the public to reduce water use, Mr Suen said, the department would launch this year a voluntary labelling scheme on water-saving devices, starting with shower heads, that divides them into three levels according to their efficiency.

Ng Cho-nam, a member of the Advisory Committee on the Quality of Water Supplies, said the project was a good start.

'It's time for more support for water conservation. People are well aware of the need for energy efficiency but they have long taken water for granted.'

Last year, the department announced measures to conserve water and reduce the city's reliance on supplies from Dongjiang.

The planned measures range from installing water-saving devices to reducing leakage from underground pipes and expanding the use of seawater for toilet flushing.

Long-term measures, still being studied, include recycling rain water and seawater desalination.

Between 70 and 80 per cent of the city's water needs are met by Dongjiang and the rest from local sources. The imports could fall in the next 20 years if conservation efforts pay off.