LCQ15: Resident facilities on Po Toi Island

     Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (April 11):
     Some residents on Po Toi Island have relayed that as the main source of water supply on the Island now comes from a water storage tank used to collect and store rainwater, water supply on the Island is extremely unstable. According to a study conducted by the consultant commissioned by the Water Supplies Department (WSD), underground water from a disused well in the Island can be used as a backup supply. WSD has indicated that it will further explore the technical feasibility of the option with the Islands District Office (IsDO). On the other hand, over the years, the electricity generated by the two power generators on the Island has been insufficient to meet the demand and the electricity supply network is in a very dilapidated condition with the risk of electricity leakage. The Environment Bureau has indicated that it had given approval for a power company to study the construction of renewable energy power generation facilities on the Island. In addition, residents on Po Toi Island have, over the years, been striving for the construction of a barrier-free access to connect the pier of the Island and Tai Wan in the centre of the Island to replace the only existing pedestrian passage which is rugged and uneven with many steps, so as to facilitate the elderly and people with impaired mobility to move on the Island. However, the Development Bureau has stated that the matter does not fall within its purview, and IsDO has stated that as the estimated cost of the works concerned has exceeded the estimate ceiling allowable for a project under the District Minor Works Programme and the Rural Public Works Programme, the works cannot be undertaken under such Programmes. IsDO has referred the proposed works to the relevant policy bureau or department for consideration. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the outcome of the study on the use of underground water in Po Toi Island; if the study outcome finds it feasible, of the details (including the timetable) of the works to be undertaken; if the study finds it infeasible, the reasons for that;
(2) of the outcome of the study on the construction of renewable energy power generation facilities on Po Toi Island; if the study outcome finds it feasible, of the details (including the timetable) of the works to be undertaken; whether it will consider re-laying the electricity supply network on the Island; if so, of the details (including timetable); if not, the reasons for that;
(3) of the government department currently responsible for following up the aforesaid proposal to construct a barrier-free access and whether that department accepts the proposal; if so, of the details (including the department which will carry out the works and bear the project cost, estimated project cost and timetable) of the works to be undertaken; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) of the measures to assist residents and tourists with impaired mobility in moving on the Island before the barrier-free access is completed;
(5) whether it has formulated contingency measures to ensure that residents and tourists on the Island can receive timely emergency rescue service; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(6) as certain sections of the aforesaid pedestrian passage fall on private land, whether it has formulated contingency measures to deal with the scenario that the land owners concerned close the pedestrian passage; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?

     As Hon Leung Yiu-chung's question covers a number of policy areas, upon consultation with the Development Bureau, Environment Bureau and Security Bureau, our reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
(1) There are about 20 usual residents on Po Toi Island. Their water supply for domestic use is mainly provided by raw water collection systems under the maintenance of the Islands District Office. In case of insufficient raw water supply from these systems, residents can inform the Islands District Office to transport potable water to Po Toi Island for residents' consumption. 
     The Development Bureau advised that the consultant of the Water Supplies Department (WSD) had completed the feasibility study to explore the use of groundwater as a supplementary water source for Po Toi Island. The consultant's study results revealed that resumption of an abandoned well, which was a few tens of metres away from the location of the public toilet, could provide about three to four cubic metres of groundwater per day, equivalent to about 20 residents' daily domestic consumption. Water quality test results also revealed that the quality of the well water was generally comparable with that of the raw water collected by the existing systems and could be used for potable purpose after boiling. Nevertheless, since the abandoned well is located far from the residents, some operational issues regarding how to facilitate residents' use remain to be resolved. For example, the volume of well water may not be sufficient for delivery by water pipes to the residents, and when water consumption is low, the quality of well water may deteriorate due to prolonged idling inside the water pipes. WSD, together with the Islands District Office, will continue to explore the use and the related technical issues of the aforementioned well.
(2) According to the Environment Bureau, the Hongkong Electric Company, Limited (HKE) has started the land surveying and environmental study work for the land/planning application, environmental permit application and detailed design of the proposed photovoltaic system on Po Toi Island. If the progress is satisfactory, HKE expects to submit the relevant reports to the Environment Bureau for approval before the end of 2018. After submitting the detailed reports, the Government will discuss with HKE on the feasibility of the project, detailed project scope and the construction programme.
(3) and (4) The Home Affairs Department (HAD) and the Islands District Office have studied the proposal of constructing a barrier-free access connecting the Po Toi Public Pier and the Tai Wan Beach. As the proposed works location is near to the seashore and rock slopes, the proposed barrier-free access would have to be constructed along the rock slopes and supported by piles. Considering the complexity of the construction works, remoteness of the location, and limitations on the transport of construction plant and materials, the cost of the proposed works is estimated by HAD to exceed the project ceiling allowed under the District Minor Works Programme and the Rural Public Works Programme (i.e. $30 million per project). The Islands District Office will continue to improve the existing footpaths on Po Toi Island under the aforementioned minor works programmes to facilitate access by the elderly.
(5) According to the Security Bureau, upon receipt of a call for emergency rescue or ambulance service from Po Toi Island, the Fire Services Department (FSD) will turn out fire or ambulance crew to attend the incident by fireboats or police launches. If situation warrants, the FSD will also request the Government Flying Service to deploy helicopter for conveyance of FSD's crew to handle the incident, or conveyance of patients to hospital for further treatment.
(6) Although some parts of the existing footpath from the Po Toi Public Pier to the Tai Wan Beach are situated within private lots, the villagers and members of the public have all along been using this access for decades, and the owners of the private lots concerned have not indicated any objection so far. The Islands District Office will closely monitor the situation and assist in mediating any disputes on the use of this footpath.

Ends/Wednesday, April 11, 2018
Issued at HKT 16:00