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LCQ9: Use of water resources

     Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Hok-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):


     It has been reported that the price of Dongjiang water in each of the years from 2012 to 2014 will increase by about 5.8%. The Government proposed to spend a sum of $11.24 billion in the next three years on an annual purchase of 820 million cubic metres of Dongjiang water from Guangdong under "the package deal lump sum approach", regardless of the actual volume consumed by Hong Kong people. Moreover, the Government is planning to develop water resources by conducting a study and field surveys on the construction of a medium-sized water desalination plant, and a site in Tseung Kwan O has been reserved for this purpose.  There have also been reports that the average daily water consumption per person in Hong Kong is 220 litres, which far exceeds the daily per capita consumption of about 170 litres in the world. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the respective volumes of fresh water for flushing and fresh water wasted due to water main bursts in Hong Kong in each of the past three years;

(b) of the policies in place to ensure the effective use of water resources, so that the average daily water consumption per person in Hong Kong can be lowered to 170 litres;

(c) given that I have learnt that in quite a number of neighbouring cities, "full-flush" and "half-flush" water level cisterns are required to be used in toilets and the cistern capacity is also restricted, whether the Government will examine and adopt such measures to achieve water conservation; and

(d) given that it has been reported that while the cost of desalinated water in Hong Kong is HK$12 per cubic metre, the desalination cost in Singapore is much lower, standing at US$0.5 per cubic metre only (i.e. HK$3.9 at the rate of US$1 to HK$7.8), whether the Government will consider introducing desalination technology from and learning from the experiences of those countries with advanced desalination facilities, so as to expedite the progress of technical studies and lower the cost in Hong Kong?



     In order to ensure a reliable and flexible supply of Dongjiang water to meet the actual need of Hong Kong, we continue to adopt the "package deal lump sum approach" in the new water supply agreement between Guangdong and Hong Kong. This approach can guarantee a reliable supply of quality potable water to Hong Kong and avoid wastage of precious water resources. The Government always treasures water resources. The Total Water Management Strategy promulgated in 2008 has mapped out the strategy for balanced supply and demand of water to support sustainable development in Hong Kong. The Strategy puts emphasis on containing growth of water demand through promoting water conservation and exploring alternative sources of water supply to meet the need of Hong Kong.

     My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(a) Table 1 shows the annual volume of fresh water used for toilet flushing in Hong Kong in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

     Table 2 shows the estimated volume of fresh water loss due to water main bursts in 2008, 2009 and 2010.

(b) The current daily per capita domestic water consumption in Hong Kong is about 220 litres, comprising 130 litres of fresh water and 90 litres of toilet flushing water (about 80% of which is seawater), which is higher than the world average daily per capita consumption of 170 litres. We consider that there is room for reducing water consumption. The reduction in daily per capita domestic consumption can be achieved through public education and promotion on the use of water saving devices.

(i) Public education

     Apart from stepping up public promotion and education on water conservation, we focus on water conservation education for our younger generation. We have launched a water conservation campaign entitled "Water Conservation Starts from Home" and school water audits for primary school students since 2009.  Relevant reference materials have already been distributed to all the primary schools. To date, we have held seminars at 200 primary schools to disseminate water conservation messages and reached out to about 63,000 primary students. We are also developing a teaching kit on water supplies aiming at providing supplementary reference materials for secondary school teachers and students on the liberal studies curriculum. In 2010, we launched a water conservation design competition calling for creative designs on water conservation from students of tertiary education institutes and practical water saving practices from property management sector and catering services industry. Moreover, we plan to set up a dedicated team in the Water Supplies Department (WSD) to take charge of all matters related to water conservation and to establish a water conservation education centre for the public.

(ii) Water saving devices

     We are developing a voluntary "Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme" (WELS) to promote the use of water saving devices and inform consumers of the level of water consumption and efficiency of various plumbing fixtures and water-consuming appliances. The WELS has been implemented in phases for different categories of fixtures and appliances. At present, 163 models of bathing showers, 56 models of water taps and 14 models of washing machines have been registered under the WELS. The WELS for urinals will be launched in early 2012.

     In the meantime, we are engaging the public in a comprehensive survey to collect information on water consumption pattern and habit of domestic accounts. The information collected will help us devise more comprehensive and customer-oriented water management measures for households to promote sustainable use of water resources. The study will also gauge opinion of the public on the water conservation promotion and education activities of the WSD to help improve our delivery of water conservation messages. The survey for domestic accounts has commenced and is scheduled for completion by early 2012.

(c) We have taken the lead to install water saving devices in new government works projects and new government buildings since 2009. We have also launched a programme for retrofitting existing government buildings and schools with water saving devices including low flow taps, low flow showers, sensor type urinals and dual-flush cisterns. To date, about 32,000 water saving devices have been installed in 460 government buildings and schools. We will consider including dual-flush cisterns into the WELS and investigate imposing restriction on cistern capacity for water conservation.

(d) The unit production cost of desalination depends on many factors and is unique to each region and country. The major factors include energy, seawater quality as well as production output and energy recovery capability of desalination plants. For instance, the unit production costs of some desalination plants in Australia and the United States range from around HK$9 to HK$22. However, we are unable to ascertain the scope covered by the said production costs. We will require the consultants for the proposed detailed study and field surveys to draw reference to relevant overseas experience, especially countries with advanced desalination facilities. This will help expedite our study on desalination technology and lower the production cost of desalination in Hong Kong.

Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:59


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