The problem of dripping air conditioners across Hong Kong has become a scourge that is going mostly unchecked, with the government prosecuting only a fraction of cases despite complaints doubling over the past decade. Residents irked by constantly leaking air cons filed 170,407 complaints with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department from 2004 to last year, but only 5,256 owners were issued warning notices, and just 12 cases were prosecuted. Resolving the problem of dripping air conditioners is not difficult HEALTH CHIEF KO WING-MAN Last year alone, there were 19,700 complaints, but prosecution was pursued against only three owners. And this year, as of June, 8,900 complaints have been lodged, but no one has been prosecuted to date. "Obviously, tackling the problem of dripping air cons is not [the department's] top priority," said Chan Wai-keung, a Yau Tsim Mong district councillor. "Usually [they] are not effective in dealing with the complaints … They seldom enforce the law." Chan said that only a third of the complaints he forwards to the department are resolved each year. He described the dripping problem as unique to Hong Kong as the leaking units are stacked atop one another in high-rise buildings owing to the city's over-reliance on indoor cooling and poor enforcement by authorities. Owning an air conditioner that drips grimy water onto the city's streets and passers-by below is illegal, and offenders face a fine of up to HK$10,000 upon conviction. DON'T MISS: Dripping Hong Kong air-conditioning units spew unresolved nuisances However, hardly anyone is prosecuted. According to the department, that's because "in most cases, as and when FEHD issues a rectification request or nuisance notice after investigation, the flat owners or occupants concerned would rectify the water drippage problem of their own accord". In addition to the public nuisance they cause, leaking air conditioners pose a danger to pedestrians, especially where pavements teem with commuters lining up at bus stops, and people must step onto the main road - in the path of oncoming vehicles - to avoid getting wet. The South China Morning Post identified 10 such black spots in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island in complaints lodged with the department. Regarding the complaints, the department issued only one nuisance notice, while informing the Post that inspectors could not find the faulty air conditioners at the nine other locations. WATCH: A woman's 20-year crusade against Hong Kong's dripping air-cons The department said its inspectors carry out spot checks, but it relies on complaints from the public rather than taking a preventative approach. And even after complaints are filed, the onus is on members of the public to follow up unresolved cases. One resident who has spent 20 years chasing up the problem as a concerned citizen told the Post she had seen air conditioners still dripping water 15 years after she complained about them to the department. In reply to queries by the Post, a department representative said it had "all along been vigilant about the nuisance caused by water dripping from air conditioners". That was exactly what Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man told lawmakers in 2013. Ko also added then: "Preventing or resolving the problem of dripping air conditioners is not difficult."