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LCQ20: Lung Mei Beach works project

     Following is a question by the Hon Wu Chi-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Tsang Tak-sing, in the Legislative Council today (December 12):


     It has been reported that an environmental protection group has recently conducted tests on water samples collected at Lung Mei in Tai Po, and the results have revealed that the number of Escherichia coli contained in the water samples has exceeded the standards by 8 to 26 times, which means that the water quality in that area is of "very poor" grade according to the water quality grading system of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD).  On the other hand, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report for the works project on "Development of a Bathing Beach at Lung Mei, Tai Po", submitted in 2007 by the consultant commissioned by the authorities, has projected that upon the completion of a new sewerage network at Lung Mei and its vicinity, and based on a conservative estimate that about 60% of the dwellings in the four villages nearby Lung Mei should have been connected to the new public sewers prior to the opening of the bathing beach, the water quality of the proposed man-made bathing beach will reach a standard suitable for swimming.  Nevertheless, the Report has also predicted that there will still be 24% and 14% of the time during which the water quality in that area will be graded "poor" and "very poor" respectively, meaning that almost 40% of the time failing to meet EPD's water quality objective for bathing beach.  Furthermore, some comments have pointed out that man-made beaches may be susceptible to sand loss and replenishment of sand may damage the ecological environment and increase carbon emissions.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the water quality monitoring data and grading for Lung Mei since January 2012;

(b) as the authorities have stated in a paper submitted to this Council in November this year that they believe that before completion of the Lung Mei beach in late 2014, there would be at least 80% of the dwellings connected to the sewerage network, and as the aforesaid EIA Report was published five years ago, whether the authorities have made predictions anew on the water quality in that area upon completion of the Lung Mei man-made bathing beach works project; if they have, of the percentage of time during which the water quality in that area will be graded "poor" or "very Poor" based on the latest prediction; and

(c) of the source of the marine sand for the proposed Lung Mei man-made bathing beach; although the authorities have pointed out in the paper mentioned in (b) that "Lung Mei enjoys the protection offered by topographical features and is less prone to extreme wave attack.  Moreover, with the construction of two groynes at the ends of the beach, significant sand loss is not expected", whether they have drawn up measures to monitor sand loss in that area; if replenishment of the marine sand is needed, where the authorities have planned to obtain sand from and what the estimated costs involved are?



(a) The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has been monitoring the water quality of Lung Mei beach since 2000.  The monitoring programme regularly assesses the E. coli levels in the seawater to determine any changes and assess the trend of the water quality in the area, and the related information is updated annually.  Under the current Annual Beach Ranking System, beaches are classified into four categories, namely "Good", "Fair", "Poor" and "Very Poor" according to their geometric mean E. coli levels.

     Applying EPD's Weekly Beach Grading System, the water quality data and the grading for the Lung Mei area in the 2012 bathing season are summarised below:

2012 Bathing              Range of the     Weekly
season (*)                geometric mean   Grading¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@
                          E. coli levels
¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@of the five
¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@most recent
¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@¡@(count per
                          100 ml)
-------------             -------------    --------
April to mid-May          766 - 3,153     Very Poor
Mid-May to                165 - 557       Poor
Mid-September (**)   
Mid-September to          43 - 225        Fair
November (***)

* Gazetted beaches are generally open for swimming from April to October.
** There may be a sudden deterioration in beach water quality during or after heavy rainfall as the rain may flush pollutants from the beach hinterland into the water.  Due to heavy rainfall, the E. coli level at the Lung Mei beach exceeded the threshold value on August 10, 2012.  The weekly grading was temporarily downgraded to "Very Poor", but was upgraded to "Poor" in subsequent weeks.  

*** Due to rainfall associated with the arrival of the northeasterly monsoon in mid-November, the geometric mean E. coli level shown during the five most recent samplings in the Lung Mei area is 225 count /100 ml, slightly above the E. coli level for "Fair".

(b) The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Lung Mei beach project estimated that about 60% of the dwellings in the four nearby villages (Lo Tsz Tin, Lung Mei, Wong Chuk Tsuen and Tai Mei Tuk) would be connected to the public sewers before the opening of the beach, and that the beach water quality would reach the standard suitable for swimming.   

     The Administration will encourage as many people as possible to connect their dwellings to the public sewerage network.  The latest estimates suggest that at least 80% of the dwellings will be connected to the network upon the opening of the beach.  The Administration will continue to enlist the support of villagers with a view to raising the connection rate to over 90%.

     As an increasing number of dwellings have been connected to public sewers, the water quality of Lung Mei has shown marked improvement, from "Very poor" in early 2012 to "Fair" in recent weeks.  The water quality at Lung Mei will further improve when more dwellings are connected to the public sewerage network and the mitigation measures for the Lung Mei beach project are completed (including the construction of groynes and diversion of the nearby storm water discharge outlets to 100 meteres away from the beach).  We are, therefore, confident that upon the opening of Lung Mei Beach to the public in 2015, the water quality will be up to the required standard.

(c) The natural sand supplied to the market mainly comes from Guangdong Province.  The Civil Engineering and Development Department has put in place measures to manage applications for importing natural sand from the Mainland, and will strictly monitor the quality of the sand to ensure compliance with the specified standards in respect of size, color and chemical composition.  

     The proposed Lung Mei beach is located at an inner bay of Tolo Harbour.  It enjoys protection from topographical features and is not generally prone to extreme wave attack.  Moreover, with the construction of two groynes at the ends of the beach, significant sand loss is not expected.  Therefore, we have not allowed any recurrent expenditure for sand replenishment in the funding application for the project to the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.

Ends/Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Issued at HKT 11:51


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