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Advisory Council on the Environment

Beach Water Quality in Hong Kong for 1999

 

(ACE Paper 14/2000)
For information by circulation

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this paper is to brief Members on the water quality of gazetted beaches in Hong Kong in the 1999 bathing season and the arrangement on the dissemination of beach water quality information to the public.

BACKGROUND

2.The Environmental Protection Department (EPD) has implemented a monitoring programme to assess the water quality of beaches in Hong Kong. Under this monitoring programme, the water quality of 41 gazetted beaches in the territory is monitored. A comprehensive report on beach water quality in Hong Kong is published by the EPD annually. The 1999 annual report is now ready and attached with this paper.

STATUS OF HONG KONG BEACH WATER

3.The beach water quality is assessed through a ranking system which links the water quality status of a beach with swimming-associated health risks. According to the system, beaches are ranked as "Good", "Fair", "Poor" or "Very Poor". Only those in the ranks of "Good" and "Fair" meet the relevant water quality objective.

4.The ranks of the gazetted beaches for the year 1999, which are shown in the annual report, are reproduced in Figure 1 for easy reference. In 1999, 22 gazetted beaches were ranked "Good", 13 "Fair" and 6 "Poor". No beach was ranked "Very Poor".

5.The water quality of all gazetted beaches in Hong Kong has continued to improve in 1999, as illustrated in Figure 2. The percentage of beaches complying with the water quality objective had increased from 78% in 1998 to 86% in 1999. Among the 41 gazetted beaches, 10 of them had moved up one rank and no beach had been downgraded. Significant improvement of water quality had been recorded at 19 beaches. The improvement of the general beach water quality in 1999 is attributed to the completion of some sewerage improvement works, the subsequent property connections to the public sewer and the continuous enforcement effort of the EPD to control all the discharges in the beach hinterland.

6.However, the general water quality of the beaches in Tsuen Wan is still poor, despite the improvement in 1999. The poor water quality is due to pollution from local sources as well as the background contribution. The local pollution sources include the sewage discharges from the squatter areas and unsewered developments in the hinterland of these beaches. To rectify this problem, the government will provide sewerage along the coastal strip between Tsing Lung Tau in the west and Ting Kau in the east. A new sewage treatment plant will be built on a newly reclaimed site in Sham Tseng to treat the sewage collected from these unsewered areas. This project is scheduled for completion in 2005. However, the background contribution could only be removed after the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme is fully implemented.

7.This report also highlights the sources of pollution affecting the beaches in various districts, and the relevant Sewerage Master Plans and sewerage improvement works which are planned or being undertaken. It is envisaged that when all these works are completed in the next few years, there will be further improvement of water quality at all the gazetted beaches in Hong Kong.

DISSEMINATION OF BEACH WATER QUALITY INFORMATION

8.Apart from the weekly press release, starting from the 1999 bathing season, the updated beach grading and its trend for individual beaches during the bathing season have been provided on the "Beach Water Quality in Hong Kong" webpage at EPD's homepage (http://www.info.gov.hk/epd). In addition, a telephone hotline (2511 6666) dedicated for the beach grading has also been implemented since September 1999. The public could now gain access to the most recent information on beach water quality through the Internet and this hotline.

9.The beach management authority, the Leisure and Cultural Services Department would also update the beach grading on the beach notice board so that the public could check the latest beach grading at the beach. Since 1999, rainfall advisory notices have been erected at 25 beaches which are more susceptible to the heavy rainfall effect to warn bathers to avoid swimming at the beach for up to three days after a storm or heavy rainfall.

CONCLUSION

10.There was improvement of the general water quality at most beaches in 1999. The poor water quality of the Tsuen Wan beaches is expected to improve after the proposed sewerage works are completed within the next few years.

11.Comprehensive arrangements have been made to disseminate the updated information on beach water quality to the public.

Environmental Protection Department
March 2000


 

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