PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 January, 2011, 12:00am

Raw water thoroughly treated to make sure it is safe for drinking

I refer to the letter by Veronica Wang ('No law in place to make testing of domestic water pipes mandatory', December 19).

Hong Kong's drinking water is among the safest in the world. All raw water is thoroughly treated to ensure that drinking water is clean and wholesome. Furthermore, residual chlorine is maintained in the treated water to guard against microbial growth in distribution systems. This has proved to be robust and effective in safeguarding the microbiological quality of treated water supply.

In 2009/2010, the Water Supplies Department took more than 26,000 samples from the water treatment works and the distribution systems including consumer taps for testing. The quality of all samples complies chemically and bacteriologically with the World Health Organisation's 'Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality' and is perfectly safe for consumption. The details of water quality results are vetted by the independent Advisory Committee on Quality of Water Supplies and published on the department's website.

According to the WHO, Legionella bacteria are sensitive to disinfection.

Following the single complaint of alleged detection of Legionella bacteria in water received last year, the department, with assistance from the Department of Health, promptly collected relevant samples for analysis.

The test results confirmed the absence of Legionella bacteria in the samples and the quality of drinking water.

In view of the effectiveness of water treatment processes and residual chlorine in distribution, it is unlikely that Legionella bacteria will pose a potential problem in treated water. Furthermore, the Water Supplies Department has always worked closely with the Department of Health to keep in view the surveillance of all water quality issues for the protection of public health.

The use of unlined galvanised steel pipes has been prohibited since December 23, 1995 by the enactment of the Waterworks (Amendment) Regulations 1994. However, this does not apply to pipes and fittings already installed before that date.

Although corrosion of such pipes may give rise to rusty stains and discoloration of water, it will not pose any health hazard.

With proper maintenance of their plumbing systems, consumers can enjoy good quality water at their taps and the potential risks of microbiological contamination to drinking water can be minimised.

To encourage building owners/management offices to properly maintain their plumbing systems, we launched the voluntary 'Quality Water Recognition Scheme for Buildings' in 2002.

The scheme now covers more than one million households.

We will continue to monitor the progress of the scheme and will review whether there is a need to make proper maintenance of consumers' plumbing systems mandatory.

K. K. Suen, senior engineer/public relations, Water Supplies Department

Mainland migrants need more help

I think the Social Welfare Department should do more to help mainland migrants who struggle to find work.

These people will face difficulties during their first few years in the city. Everything is new and unfamiliar and they might also experience a language barrier. They need time and help to adapt. The department could provide them with funds to ease their financial burden.

However, they might also have psychological problems as they struggle to adapt and the department can provide social workers. The migrants can share their feelings with these people.

Michael Ng Yu-hang

Rude awakening for new arrivals

I agree with those who argue that the Social Welfare Department should offer assistance to mainland migrants who have dependents and who are struggling to find work.

A lot of migrants feel helpless and alienated by their new environment and have difficulties adapting. If they are left without help they could become upset and frustrated and this could lead to serious domestic problems.

If the department can help them settle in and find work, then they will not need welfare benefits, the cost of which can place a financial burden on society. If they get work they can actually make a contribution to society. Beijing launches initiatives to boost Hong Kong's economy. We can show our gratitude by helping mainland migrants.

Cyrus Wong Fat-wing, Tsuen Wan

Take realistic approach to shark fin issue

Conservation groups made a concerted effort in 2010 to raise the awareness of the tragedy of the shark fin trade.

Unfortunately they do not seem to have made any headway at all. Indeed, given the importance shark fins have in Chinese culture and their connection with wealth in Asia, these groups are unlikely to make progress in the future. Maybe in light of this harsh reality, it is time to reconsider the approach up till now adopted in attempt to curtail the trade in shark fins.

It is naive to think that poor fishermen in Africa care what Western environmental groups think about the trade and how it affects the global ecosystem. But it is here that any controls must be introduced in order to be effective. One problem with shark finning is that a large portion of the fish is wasted.

Maybe we now need controlled investment in the trade, with farming, utilisation of all portions of the fish and a better pricing structure for fishermen. The focus should be on sustainability. At present we have too many poor fishermen with lots of wealthy buyers. This mix cannot be controlled.

We need a positive structure where all parties enjoy the benefits with minimal damages to one of the world greatest surviving species.

Stephen Anderson, Macau

Teens must be more careful on the internet

Most teenagers use the internet at least once a day. It is convenient for so many things, such as watching films, listing to music and networking on sites such as Facebook, Xanga and Twitter.

They may be under stress and share their feelings with other internet users, but they should be careful who they confide in since some of their online friends may have ulterior motives.

Young people should not disclose private information online. If they get an e-mail and feel uncomfortable about its contents they should ignore the message or leave the website.

Chan Wai-kuen, Kwun Tong

Mediocre programmes

The quality of television programmes in Hong Kong is in decline and because of that audiences' tastes have gone downmarket.

If people watch poor-quality programmes, then they get used to it. This has an adverse effect on Hong Kong in a cultural sense. I am particularly concerned about what this does to young people. Will they emerge as adults inhabiting a cultural desert?

Too much of the content of these programmes is violent or sexual in nature. You see cruelty on game shows with hosts making fun of contestants.

We need to ensure better quality programmes with more meaningful content and less violence and sex.

Matthew So Cheuk-kwan, Tsuen Wan