PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 December, 2009, 12:00am

Government keen on water conservation

I refer to the letter by Nigel Lam ('Water recycling efforts rejected', December 8).

The government is committed to implementing a holistic management of water resources in a bid to promote sustainable use of water. Since 2008, the government has promulgated a total water management strategy, with emphasis on containing the growth of water demand through conservation while water supply management will also be strengthened. Under this strategy of demand management, the Water Supplies Department has been stepping up public education of water conservation, promoting the use of water saving devices, reducing water leakage through active leakage control and extension of seawater for flushing whenever it is economically justified.

As regards water supply management, while monitoring closely the technological advancement in sea water desalination, the government is investigating the feasibility of providing reclaimed water from Shek Wu Hui sewage treatment works for consumers in Sheung Shui and Fanling for toilet flushing and other non-potable uses. Reuse of grey water and rainfall harvesting are also being promoted in both public and private developments wherever practicable.

The government has been working through the Hong Kong Green Building Council to promote sustainable buildings, covering initiatives in respect of air, noise, waste, water and energy conservation. Grey water reuse forms part of such initiatives. A good example is EcoPark in Tuen Mun which has been using grey water for irrigation and cleaning.

While grey water not being supplied from the waterworks is outside the scope of the Waterworks Ordinance and its use does not require approval under the ordinance, the government wants to promote its use with proper plumbing systems. Interested parties may approach the department's senior engineer/customer services (technical support) for further advice on proposed uses of grey water (kk_lau@wsd.gov.hk).

Chin Chu-sum, assistant director, customer services, Water Supplies Department

Benefits of overseas study

In response to Sally Leung Chui-ping's letter ('Culture shock in overseas study', December 3), I agree that while high-quality education is indeed available in Hong Kong, many students seek the crucial and marketable qualities that international higher education can help them to develop.

With guidance and counselling, they should be able to find a university that fits their needs and prepare themselves to best access those opportunities, whether they are in Hong Kong or abroad.

EducationUSA, a global network of more than 400 advising centres supported by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at the US Department of State, provides free, accurate, unbiased, comprehensive, objective and timely information and advice about the wide range of educational institutions and programmes in the United States. The EducationUSA advising centre and website also offer free guidance on ways to make US study affordable. The aptly named pre-departure orientations conducted regularly by the EducationUSA Centre in Hong Kong help students prepare to live and learn in a different culture (http://www.iiehongkong.org/advising_hk.htm).

Many people in higher education and in the business world believe that international education helps students develop creativity and the crucial ability to deal with change, and boosts communication skills and English ability.

For many local students, expanding their horizons leads to a major jump in self-development and in the skills they can market in the workplace in Hong Kong or internationally. EducationUSA and the Institute of International Education are here as a resource to help local students open doors to their future.

Ann White, director, China- Hong Kong Institute of International Education

Columbarium spaces limited

The insufficient number of columbariums has raised public awareness about problems within the Hong Kong community.

The number of old people has risen in the special administrative region and there is a growing demand for columbariums.

The problem is compounded by the fact that two government departments have different interpretations of the land lease problem.

These departments appear to be overlapping and this is a waste of resources and government revenue.

The administration should ensure that more columbariums are provided.

This is especially important for older people who are on low incomes and who cannot afford to buy a space in a private columbarium.

Chan Siu-lam, Sheung Shui

Car ban good for pedestrians

Elizabeth Wu ('Lift pointless parking ban', December 12) complains that the government is 'warding off buyers' for vendors at Mong Kok flower market.

I would suggest she rephrases this as 'warding off buyers who come by car' to the flower market.

How about the bulk of people who are less selfish and take public transport who have to thread their way through the cars that clog up the market and the surrounding areas?

Aren't they entitled to some consideration?

I think they are and actions against car drivers are fully justified. The car has a limited future in the city. The quicker we all recognise this, the better for all of us.

The flower market is a classic case.

Perhaps it is time to 'drive' car drivers onto public transport.

Jeremy Kidner, Central

Welcoming lunchbox policy

I welcome the move by on-site school meal suppliers to reduce the use of disposable lunchboxes.

The suppliers can save on the cost of purchasing non-reusable boxes and provide a better catering service, with more staff and more nutritious meals.

Students can bring their own reusable lunchboxes and this will help them become more aware of the environment. Also, if the school meal suppliers are able to lower costs, the price of meals will also be reduced.

Disposable lunchboxes, which are made of polystyrene, are non-biodegradable and can only be burnt in the incinerator.

I appreciate what on-site school meal suppliers are doing and I hope that other firms learn through their initiative and adopt eco-friendly initiatives in other sectors in the near future.

Cheuk Ka-lok, Wong Tai Sin

Compensated dating is risky

People have become more aware of compensated dating following the murder of a girl who was involved in this activity. While schools, parents and the government have a role to play in curbing compensated dating, the girls involved have to accept their responsibility. Schools and parents have to instil the right values in their children and make them wary of strangers. However, some young people will continue to ignore the advice they are given.

Some teenagers are rebellious and will be reluctant to listen to their parents or teachers.

They must be made aware of the risks involved in compensated dating. I do not understand why young people continue to get involved, even when they are made aware of how dangerous it is. They must be made aware that they could be robbed, raped or even killed if they get involved in compensated dating. They have materialistic desires, but it is simply not worth the risk involved.

In the end, we all have to take responsibility for our actions.

Elaine Ip Yee-ting, Kowloon City

Parents' role

When a girl was murdered, it became clear that compensated dating carried serious risks.

We have to ask why some teenagers turn to compensated dating and how the problem can be solved.

Girls who get into this activity do not think they are involved in prostitution.

Compensated dating originated in Japan where older men give money or gifts to attract women for companionship and sometimes sexual favours.

In Japan it is part of their culture, but in Hong Kong girls who get involved are risking their lives.

These teenagers want to earn quick money to satisfy their materialistic needs.

The police should treat compensated dating in the same way they treat prostitution. Parents and schools must accept they have responsibilities and must work to tackle the problem.

Adam Liu, Fanling

Going green

Climate change has been under the spotlight globally, since the UN's Copenhagen summit opened on December 7.

As individuals our actions can lead to increased carbon emissions in the world. Whatever activities we are involved in, whether it is shopping or driving a car, we are contributing to global warming.

Sea levels have been rising since the 19th century. China has taken an active role at the conference, calling for cuts in CO2 emissions.

I believe it has shown what countries can do to reduce emissions. But we should not just wait for nations to act.

As individuals we should be trying to reduce our carbon footprint.

Mandy Wong, Sai Kung