LOOKING out over Victoria Harbour from a soaring office tower in Central, it might not seem credible that some of Hong Kong's worst polluters are pigs - the four-footed kind. The Environmental Protection Department has identified pigs as one of the worst sources of water pollution. Effluent produced by the territory's estimated 350,000 pigs is the staggering equivalent of that created by 1.1 million people. The rivers and streams of the New Territories are a seething, putrid testimony to this. But the Government's pollution watchdogs say they are finally winning the battle against porcine polluters. 'Pollution from livestock waste will be almost non-existent by the year 2001,' department principal protection officer Patrick Lei said. 'So far, the Government has paid over $720 million to farmers as compensation to stop raising pigs. The Government first acknowledged the seriousness of the pig problem when it instituted a 10-year livestock waste scheme in 1987. The project has reduced waste pouring into streams and rivers by 70 per cent. The final phase of the plan will begin on July 1. Fines for pollution will increase from $5,000 to $50,000. A first-time fine of $100,000 will be slapped on anyone keeping livestock in restricted areas, including all of Hong Kong Island, Sha Tin and the urban areas of West Kowloon. A second offence will bring a $200,000 penalty. 'We visit four to five farms a day to do testing,' chief environmental protection inspector Joyce Ho Chui-fan said. 'Sometimes we get chased off by dogs or have angry farmers throw things at us, but slowly attitudes about the environment are changing. 'Livestock waste and bean curd factories are the main pollution offenders we look at. The farmers are slowly coming around to the idea and, because the fines have increased, more farmers are installing waste treatment tanks.'