Department failing to stop pollution of pristine Hoi Ha Wan
I refer to the report ("Tai Po beach clears court hurdle", August 13). Why does the government rush ahead with this project when water quality in existing beaches is deteriorating?
I refer specifically to Hoi Ha Wan. I have been swimming there regularly since 2006 and the water has always been crystal clear. Since 2014, its shallow waters have turned markedly murky and foamy.
Most of the farmland in Pak Sha O village, adjacent to a stream that feeds into Hoi Ha Wan, has been bought by developers.
The Lands Department is more agreeable to approving village house applications on cultivated farmland. Therefore, land at Pak Sha O is being farmed for vegetables. I suspect there is massive use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which is now finding its way to Hoi Ha Wan via the stream. This may have caused a rapid deterioration of seawater quality.
A high standard of water quality in Hoi Ha Wan must be maintained for at least two reasons.
First, about 100,000 people use it and its beaches for recreation annually. The government should have the health of these people at heart.
Second, the biggest and prettiest coral colonies in Hong Kong are found there and the surrounding seas. This is one of Hong Kong's irreplaceable treasures. Corals are extremely sensitive to chemicals. Adding more toxic chemicals and waste products to Hoi Ha Wan waters will impact on marine life negatively.
The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department declined to have the near-shore water quality checked, because it has subcontracted the work of monitoring Hoi Ha Wan water quality, until March 2015, to a third party.
The department should have located the monitoring station closer to shore and corals where it matters, but it was located one kilometre away.
The future looks dire for Hoi Ha Wan and Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park. Recent outline zoning plans show more village houses will be located close to streams and shoreline.
These locations are much sought after by developers for their scenic value. Without central sewage treatment, chemicals and grey water from new houses will reach Hoi Ha Wan. In time, it could be renamed Hoi Ha sewage pit.
Village house development is lucrative. This creates pressure on government departments to "facilitate" by bending their own rules. We must remain vigilant to protect our country and marine parks.
Tom Hou, Sai Kung