Hong Kong's water management has seen steady improvement

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 May, 2015, 2:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 May, 2015, 2:00am

We thank Professor Asit K. Biswas for his article, "Hong Kong's third-world water management system in urgent need of repair" (March 20), and would like to elaborate on our water management strategy.

Hong Kong lacks fresh water resources. Since the 1960s, Hong Kong has developed a three-pillar water supply structure consisting of the local yield, seawater for flushing, and Dongjiang water. Among these, seawater for flushing is unique in the world. In 2008, we drew up our total water management strategy, with an aim to containing demand and strengthening our supply management.

We have been promoting water conservation through a series of initiatives, such as establishing a Water Resources Education Centre and launching various activities. With our current domestic fresh water consumption of about 130 litres per capita per day, we are aiming at lowering it to near the global average of about 110 litres.

The "Let's Save 10L Water" campaign launched last year has been well received by the public. More than 300,000 participants have committed themselves to supporting the campaign, and more than 130,000 pairs of flow controllers have been distributed. We will also launch a Water Conservation Week this year.

Since 2000, we have replaced and rehabilitated 3,000km of aged water mains to reduce the leakage rate from 25 per cent in 2001 to 15 per cent in 2015. We also plan to establish a Water Intelligent Network system that will enable us to operate and manage the local supply network more sustainably.

Prof Biswas quoted the Audit Commission report issued in 1999 in respect of reservoir overflow of 760 million cubic metres, mainly due to the import of Dongjiang water. We have improved the supply agreements since 2006 by adopting a "package deal lump sum" approach. No Dongjiang water has been overflown in recent years.

The commission issued another report last year noting the monthly adjustments of the supply from Dongjiang.

In 2014, the overflow of water from reservoirs was 23 million cubic metres, compared to 120 million cubic metres in 1999. As for the overestimation of demand in the mid-1990s, it was due to industries moving to mainland China. We corrected such an estimation in the late 1990s.

To be in line with the government-wide "user pays" principle, we are reviewing the water tariff. In October last year, we also commenced a review of the total water management strategy, to strengthen our resilience to uncertainties.

David Wong, senior engineer/public relations, Water Supplies Department