Advisory Council on the Environment

Quality of Dongjiang Water

(ACE Paper 25/2001)
For information


This paper informs the Members on the recent development in respect of the publication of water quality data of Dongjiang water and the co-operation between Guangdong and Hong Kong in improving the water quality of Dongjiang.

Water Quality Data

2. Both Guangdong and Hong Kong are deeply concerned on the quality of Dongjiang water supplied to Hong Kong. A Dongjiang Water Quality Protection Special Panel (the Special Panel) under the Hong Kong/Guangdong Joint Working Group on Sustainable Development and Environmental Protection has been formed to specifically address the quality protection of Dongjiang water.

3. At the last meeting of the Special Panel in December 2000, the Guangdong authorities have agreed to provide Hong Kong with data on the water quality of Dongjiang obtained from a primary monitoring station near Taiyuan Pumping Station at Dongjiang mainstream on a regular basis for public release in Hong Kong. These data are most useful for us to monitor the quality of water that we will expect to receive upon the completion of the closed aqueduct. On 17 May 2001, the water quality data received from Guangdong were made available at the Water Supplies Department's (WSD) web site entitled "Truth about Water" at www.info.gov.hk/wsd/ for public information. An extract of the relevant Dongjiang water quality data from the WSD web site is enclosed at Annex.

4. It is encouraging that this is the first step taken by the Guangdong authorities towards openness and transparency on matters concerning Dongjiang water. The Guangdong authorities will continue to provide us with similar information for publication in Hong Kong as an annual exercise. We will continue to liaise with the Guangdong authorities for the release of more information on Dongjiang water.

5. In Hong Kong, we carry out our own monitoring regularly on the quality of Dongjiang water at our water reception point - Muk Wu Pumping Station and the monitoring covers over 100 parameters, well in excess of the parameters specified in the raw water quality standard GB3838. In August 2000, WSD started to publish the monitoring results of both the raw water and the treated water at WSD's web site. Following the international practice, the water quality data on the web site will be updated annually.

Co-operation on the Water Quality Protection on Dongjiang

6. In the mid-90's, the quality of Dongjiang water started to deteriorate due to rapid economic development, particularly in the Dongshen area. While the quality of Dongjiang water at the intake point of Taiyuan Pumping Station meets the national standard on raw water, it is still vulnerable to contamination when delivered to Shenzhen through an open transfer channel along Shima River.

7. Both Guangdong and Hong Kong fully understand that the fundamental approach to address the pollution problems at sources is to provide a proper and comprehensive sewage infrastructure system within the entire Dongjiang catchment. However, it is understandable that such infrastructure takes time to construct and substantial resources are required to support the construction and, above all, the long-term operation and maintenance of such systems. Notwithstanding this, the Guangdong authorities have started to implement a number of sewage collection and treatment systems at the critical locations and will continue to expand the sewage infrastructure. We will closely monitor the progress and effectiveness of such schemes in the Special Panel meetings.

8. As regards the closed aqueduct project, it is the consensus of both sides that it will be the most effective solution to bring about immediate improvement on the quality of Dongjiang water delivered to Hong Kong prior to the completion of the comprehensive sewage infrastructure within the Dongshen area. It will eliminate the surface pollution when Dongjiang water is delivered through Shima River to Hong Kong. The project has also taken into account the fresh water demands from the towns and villages along Shima River for domestic and irrigation uses. A number of tapping points have been added in the design to provide quality water supply to these towns and villages.

9. When assessing the feasibility of the closed aqueduct project, the Guangdong authorities have recognised that after the commissioning of the closed aqueduct, the Dongshen Water Supply System along Shima River will revert to its original status as a natural tributary of Dongjiang. The Guangdong authorities also understand that without any environmental protection measures, the polluted water in the Shima River will run into the Dongjiang mainstream. The Guangdong authorities have started to implement a wastewater management plan within the catchment of Shima River to tie in with the commissioning of the closed aqueduct project in 2003 to avoid polluting the Dongjiang downstream.

10. At the Special Panel meetings, the Guangdong authorities have re-affirmed that they would continue to put strong emphasis on protecting the water quality of Dongjiang as their top priority. The following proactive measures have been taken to tackle the pollution problem:

      (a) it is established that wastewater from scattered sources have to meet the relevant standard before discharge and it will be strictly enforced;
  (b) they have also demanded the county and regional governments to create water quality protection funds for the central treatment of wastewater and quality protection of rivers;
  (c) it is ordered that no approval will be given for polluting industry or livestock farms within the catchment of Dongshen Water Supply System;
  (d) in parallel, they will implement effective measures to avoid the secondary contamination resulted from the washing down of solid waste into the rivers; and
  (e) another major step is to close the polluting livestock farms within the Dongshen area.

11. We will continue to discuss the strategy and monitor the effectiveness of the measures for the protection and improvement of the water quality of Dongjiang in the Special Panel meetings.

Works Bureau
June 2001





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