Advisory Council on the Environment

Use of Water Purchased from Guangdong Province

(ACE Paper 02/2000)
For information


This paper informs the Members about the background and current development in respect of the raw water purchased from Guangdong.

The Supply Quantity

2.The supply of raw water from Dongjiang commenced back in 1965. Since then, the supply quantities have been increased substantially to meet the growing demand of Hong Kong. A further agreement was signed in 1989 by which the Guangdong Authority would increase the system capacity of the Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Supply Scheme from 660 to 1,100 million cubic metre (mcm) per year to ensure a reliable supply and meet the long term demand in Hong Kong. In the agreement, the annual supply quantities for the years up to 2000 were agreed with anticipation of full utilization of the final system capacity in 2008.

3.During the negotiation for the agreement in 1989, the Hong Kong side had requested for some flexibility in the supply quantities such that the maximum and minimum annual supply quantities would be specified to cope with possible fluctuations in the annual rainfall and uncertainties in the long term demand growth. The Guangdong side had rejected this proposal as this would create major problems in their planning of electricity requirements and other resources.

4.Given the Guangdong side's disagreement and most importantly our imminent need to secure a reliable supply at the time, we had proposed supply quantities matching with the lower demand projection with the option for additional quantities when needed. The supply quantities were agreed based on the lower demand projection of 3.5% annual growth rate, which was well below the then historical average of 6% at the time. This was already the most flexible arrangement that could be achieved at the time. Actually, the agreed supply quantities were not sufficient for the first few years after the agreement was signed and extra quantities were required in each year from 1989 to 1992.

5.With the Hong Kong industries moving gradually to Mainland China in the early 90's, the demand growth rate started to slow down. We started to discuss with the Guangdong side on possible reduction of the annual supply quantities, and formally requested for such reductions in 1995. However, the 1989 Agreement once signed is contractually binding on both sides. Alteration is only possible with mutual consent. With mutual understanding in subsequent negotiations, the Guangdong side had make several concessions on the supply quantity.

6.In 1998 they agreed to reduce the annual increment in the supply quantity by 20 mcm in each year starting from 1998 until 2004, resulting in a total reduction of 560 mcm in these seven years. They also accepted the proposal of deferring the agreed year of 2008 for receiving the maximum annual quantity of 1,100 mcm and agreed to determine the annual supply quantities beyond 2004 through further negotiation.

7.Coupled with the slow demand increase, the rainfall has in fact been well above average in the late 90's resulting in overflow from reservoirs. While there appeared to have excessive raw water in the past few years, the situation would have been different and extra Dongjiang water would be needed should the most severe historical drought occur in the same years. Nonetheless, we have been actively discussing with the Guangdong side on the scope of reducing the supply quantities and various flexible supply arrangements. The Guangdong side does not agree to reduce the supply quantity because it will affect the return of their investments in respect of their supply infrastructure for supplying Dongjiang water to Hong Kong.

8.In considering further flexible supply arrangements, the Guangdong side stresses that the annual supply quantities must be fixed well in advance for their planning of water resources allocation, and the flexible arrangements must not result in any additional cost and operational difficulty to them. Notwithstanding all these backdrops, we will continue to discuss with the Guangdong side on ways to improve the supply arrangement and possibly reduce overflow from our reservoirs.

Quality of Dongjiang Water

9.While the quality of Dongjiang water meets with the national standards at the intake point in Dongjiang, it has been vulnerable to contamination from the Dongjiang intake point to Shenzhen as a result of the rapid development along the open channel supply route since the mid 90.

10.Through continued discussions at various established channels and meetings, the Guangdong side has actively planned and implemented a series of improvement measures to ensure the quality of raw water supplied to Hong Kong. Some of the improvement measures have already been mentioned in ACE Paper 18/98 presented to Members at the 50th ACE Meeting on 27 April 1998. Since then the Guangdong side has implemented further improvement measures to help improve the quality of Dongjiang water including:

  1. The provincial government has set up a Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Quality Protection Leading Group to promulgate and implement the "Protection of the Dongjiang Water Quality in Guangdong Province Ordinance", the "Provisions for the Protection of the Source and Quality of Drinking Water of the Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Supply Project" and the "Trial Procedure of Water Quality Objective Management of the Cross-City River Boundary in the Guangdong Province".
  2. Under these measures, the concerned authority of the upstream section has to ensure the water quality is satisfactory before flowing to the downstream. The Guangdong Provincial People's Congress has also enacted the "Guangdong Province Zhujiang Delta Water Quality Protection Ordinance" for implementation with effect from January 1999. The Dongjiang and the Dongjiang-Shenzhen supply system are within the purview of this Ordinance.
  3. The Shenzhen and Dongguan municipal governments as well as the environmental protection department continue to act in the spirit of the Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Quality Protection Leading Group meeting held by the provincial government in 1998 by focusing on the following five major aspects with an aim to protecting the quality of Dongjiang-Shenzhen water; control on the source of major industrial pollution, control of effluent from the livestock, treatment of domestic sewage and disposal of the rubbish in the twelve towns enroute and control and prevention of oil contamination in accordance with the relevant requirements.
  4. On 14 September 1999, Mr. LU Rui-hua, the Governor of Guangdong Province, signed with 21 mayors "the Protocol of Job Responsibility in Achieving Environmental Protection Objectives", which is for submission to various levels of People's Congress with a view to supervising and pressing ahead the implementation of the responsibility system in achieving environmental protection objectives by the chief executives at various levels.
  5. The Dongguan Municipal Government will establish a responsibility system for water quality protection, so that domestic sewage treatment rate is targeted to achieve over 50% by late 2002.
  6. Strict controls on industrial pollution are being applied by taking action to close down, stop and replace the polluting industries and enterprises.
  7. The moving of the intake point at Dongjiang to a better location upstream in 1998, by constructing the new Tai Yuan Pumping Station, has effectively avoided the pollution discharged from Sima River which was next to the old pumping station.
  8. A large-scale bio-nitrification plant at Shenzhen Reservoir has been completed and put into service since the end of 1998.
  9. Dredging of the sludge at Shenzhen Reservoir is in progress.
  10. A number of sewage treatment plants serving development areas along the Dongjiang-Shenzhen supply route are being constructed.
  11. A closed aqueduct is to be constructed for completion by 2002 to replace the existing open channel aqueduct, so as to avoid the pollution sources along the Dongjiang-Shenzhen supply route.

11.The Guangdong side has re-affirmed that it is their responsibility to ensure that the water quality complied with the water quality standard stipulated in the Agreement. Actually, they have been taking active measures to protect and improve the quality of Dongjiang water and initial improvements have been observed since 1999. It is expected that improvement will continue upon the completion of the improvement projects and environmental protection measures.

Quality of Treated Water

12.The raw water from Dongjiang or from rainwater collected in the local catchments must go through the stringent water treatment purification processes before the water is supplied to the consumers. The treated water quality complies with the World Health Organisation (WHO) Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. WSD will continue to monitor the treated water quality and ensure that the treated water is safe for life-long consumption.

Works Bureau
January 2000




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