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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 10:35am
NewsHong Kong

No-flush nightmare for residents at Healthy Gardens, North Point

Damaged water pipe spells misery for more than 1,000 residents for nearly a month

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 June, 2013, 5:07am

More than 1,000 households have been without flushing water for nearly a month, raising fears of disease on a private estate named Healthy Gardens.

Soaring temperatures have added to concerns at the North Point complex, where residents have been waiting for a pipe to be repaired.

On June 5, staff at the firm managing a shopping mall under the six-block estate found water leaking from a section of the main seawater pipe near their office.

They asked the Water Supplies Department to cut off the supply of seawater, used for flushing toilets, until the pipe could be repaired.

But it took nearly a week for the separate firm that manages the estate to meet and discuss the situation, according to one of the residents, Sherlin Tung.

"At that point, they realised that the system of pipes needed to be replaced and that the work would be extremely expensive," Tung said. She added that every time she called management, they told her they were doing everything in their power to fix the problem.

"They told me at least three times it would most likely be fixed in a week, but it wasn't," she said.

"We were told we can flush our toilets with fresh water, but dumping buckets of water down the toilet doesn't work very well - it's only a temporary solution."

The crisis comes during one of the hottest Junes on record.

The Hong Kong Observatory has issued three very hot weather warnings this month, with the temperature hovering around 33 degrees Celsius. Chan King-ming, an environmental scientist at Chinese University, said germs could spread easily when a bucket of water is used to flush a toilet.

He added that the high temperatures would only make the problem worse, because germs would be trapped within air-conditioned apartments in which the windows were shut.

As a temporary solution, he suggested residents pour water into their toilet tanks so that they can flush as normal.

Another resident, Kitty Wong, said she and many others had complained to the management firm and district councillors, but none of them did anything about the problem.

"It's very inconvenient," she said. "It's a waste of a lot of drinking water. I'm starting to wonder if it will ever get fixed."

Leung Ka-fai, of the estate's management office, said it had taken a long time to persuade the government to help because it saw the damaged section of pipe as the company's responsibility.

He said the government eventually agreed to step in when it was overwhelmed by complaints from residents.

After that was settled, he said the shopping mall management then needed time to redirect the drinking water supply in preparation for the repair work.

Both the seawater and drinking pipes would be replaced, so it had to ensure that the estate's drinking water supply was not affected, he said.

"Now that all the preparation is done, we can start the repairs on Tuesday and everything will hopefully be back to normal by Friday," he said.

The Water Supplies Department could not be reached by the Sunday Morning Post for comment by press time yesterday.


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An unattended broken waste water plumbing for a highrise resident building is a potential that Hong Kong could be revisited by SARS epidemic. When it happens, few government heads should roll. Foremost, the Health Minister for lacking foresight and leadership. There are many problems associated with the broken plumbing system that needs to be reviewed by the government:
1. Why corrosive material is used for running seawater? Is the building code right and dutifully checked at the building site?
2. Why is the drinking water being so close to the waste pipe that subject to cross contamination and causing repairing difficulty?
3. Why is the chain of the overseers from District Office to the uppermost governmental office so broken and ineffective in safeguarding public health?
Buckminster Fuller, an admired philosopher, engineer and architect once said that without plumbing system there is no city. Hong Kong’s plumbing problems has had a track record. Hong Kong shouldn’t just look for high density without the ability to secure public safety. Hong Kong really is not a world city as its last Administration wanted its citizens and the rest of the world to believe in.
When was the estate Healthy Gardens built?

Also to johnyuan: must your posts for this article be so anti Chinese? Are you a self hating Chinese? It was a huge bummer reading that. Also I am not sure why you exclude intellectualism from the Chinese and give it to the British instead.
Hong Kong in its development as a city hasn’t had the best of the British and Chinese culture – intellectualisms of the former and the generosity of the latter. On the contrary, since Hog Kong embarked on to becoming a city, the people embrace the worst of the two cultures. Class distinction handed down by the British ruler is still fervently beloved and manifested in housing, education and even road-side parking of special privileges etc. Money in Chinese culture is central to one’s life preempts all other and others. With the British already gone for more than a decade and half, Hong Kong is still wallowing in the worst of the two cultures. I certainly hope a new system of governing will come along that will make Hong Kong to take the advantage of the best and better of the two cultures that its people already know well. What a potential to become a real world city?
Why have the residents behaved so ineptly living without their toilet plumbing functioning for almost a month and without remedy in the promise? The ineptness is inexcusable. SARS only has its tenth anniversary a month or so ago. The inability to possible connecting the dots is dumbfounding. There seems a deeper problem underpinning Hong Kong’s way of life since the hangover. The oversights of public health and safety, the misbehaviors of officials including the anti-corruption agency show that Hong Kong people are not as capable as their former British rulers. Hong Kong rules Hong Kong is still teething even for a plumbing problem. Learn quickly because good plumbing system is none negotiable for any city to exist. As for the helpless people, perhaps a change of role models (property developers) to emulate is imperative – life leads to live as a gamble is irresponsible not just to you but to the rest of society. Fix your plumbing. Now.
Good question. And may more should be asked of the leaky seawater pipes.
There is no anti Chinese sentiment on my part. Self hating is not healthy. Self hating Chinese is a term invented to cover one’s weak argument about an issue. I am sorry that you don’t see a spade a spade like I do.
'More than 1,000 households have been without flushing water for nearly a month, raising fears of disease on a private estate named Healthy Gardens.' There is no division between private or government when public health is the issue. No one or government should sitting on their hands and just thinking whose reponsibility or should pay for the repair. Get the repair done now, and sought out the responsibility and payment later. Try this non-small government way?
It's not about taking one away from the other. It's about taking two attributes away from Hong Kongers. It is simply a rant against Hong Kong people. johnyuan has had an upsetting experience and has a bee in his bonnet. About what, we really don't know.
Please allow me to share these quotes by Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore quoted by the newly elected President, Peter Salovey at the Yale University on his first day at work addressing the Yale community. He believes those words capture all members of Yale ‘working together, are called to do; that is, to continue to make Yale a place:

“Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depths of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward ... into ever-widening thought and action ....”
2. There is normally a bath in a bathroom where the toilet is normally located in Hong Kong. The bath normally has fresh water not seawater.
3. This is a private estate. In the first instance it is not the responsibility of the Government to make repairs to private property.


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