Related Legislation

Legislative Control of Water Quality

The Water Pollution Control Ordinance, enacted in 1980, is the main legislation to control water pollution in Hong Kong. The ordinance and its subsidiary legislation allow the Government to declare Hong Kong waters into ten water control zones (WCZs). Control of discharges in these zones to achieve and maintain water quality objectives is exercised mainly through a licensing system. The first water control zone was "Tolo Harbour and Channel Water Control Zone" which commenced on 1 April 1987. The rest of Hong Kong waters were progressively brought under legislative control over the next 12 years.

The last two WCZs to be declared were "Second Southern Supplementary WCZ" and "North Western Supplementary WCZ" and their commencement dates were the same, i.e. 1 November 1999. Additional provisions on water quality management are also contained in other pieces of legislation. This body of environmental legislation will ensure that sewage and industrial wastewater will be discharged in an environmentally acceptable manner.

Environmental Legislation for Water Quality Management as at 15 June 2011

Legislation   Description of Control
Water Pollution Control Ordinance (Cap.358) 1980   Provides for the designation of control zones within which discharges of effluent other than domestic sewage into a foul sewer must be licensed.
Water Pollution Control (General) Regulations 1986
  Gives practical effect to the ordinance.
Water Pollution Control (Appeal Board) Regulations 1985
  Sets out procedures to be followed in appeals against orders made or directions given under the ordinance.
Water Pollution Control (Sewerage) Regulation 1994   Imposes requirements on private lot owners to collect and convey wastewater to public sewers and provides for control over the operation and maintenance of private wastewater treatment facilities.
Buildings Ordinance (Cap.123) 1956   Allows the Building Authority to require adequate waste treatment facilities in any new building. Provides for control over the design of refuse chutes within buildings, private drainage works and oil storage facilities.
Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) (Cap.121) 1987
  Similar provisions to Cap.123.
Waste Disposal Ordinance (Cap.354) 1980   Prohibits livestock keeping in urban areas and provides for control over the discharge or deposit of livestock waste in designated control areas.
Public Health and Municipal Services Ordinance (Cap.132) 1960   Provides for control over the discharge of hazardous materials to sewers, and for the control of littering. Also provides for the designation of bathing beaches and the control of pollution at such beaches, together with swimming pools and wells.
Dumping At Sea Ordinance (Cap. 466) 1995   Provides for control on marine dumping, extends control on marine pollution, gives legal effect to the Marine Dumping Action Plan.
Foreshores and Sea Bed (Reclamations) Ordinance (Cap.127) 1985
  Provides for the control of reclamation and use of the foreshore and seabed.
Shipping and Port Control Ordinance (Cap.313) 1978   Prohibits pollution of the sea by oil from land-based as well as marine sources, and also the dumping of refuse and general littering from vessels or port-based operations.
Merchant Shipping (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Ordinance (Cap.413)   Provides for the prevention and control of pollution from ships.
Merchant Shipping (Prevention of Oil Pollution) Regulations 1984 (sub. leg. of Cap.413)
  Implements control over oil pollution from ships.
Merchant Shipping (Control of Pollution by Noxious Liquid Substances in Bulk) Regulations 1987 (sub. leg. of Cap. 413)
  Implements control over the indiscriminate discharge of noxious liquid substances from ships.
Waterworks Ordinance (Cap.102) 1975
  Prohibits polluting discharges in water gathering grounds.
Radiation Ordinance (Cap.303) 1957
  Controls the use and disposal of radioactive substances.
Fisheries Protection Ordinance (Cap.171) 1962
  Prohibits the use of explosives and poisons for fishing.
Summary Offences Ordinance (Cap.228) 1933
  Contains provisions relating to littering offences including marine littering.


Amendment of Water Pollution Control Ordinance

The Water Pollution Control Ordinance enacted in 1980 enables the Government to set up water control zones in which regulations are applied to control effluent discharges with the aim of achieving water quality objectives in each zone. It was amended in 1990 to expand the scope and allow for tighter controls on effluent discharge. Further amendments were made in 1993 to impose controls on the connection of wastewater to the public sewerage system and the proper operation and maintenance of private communal sewage treatment plants.

The Water Pollution Control Ordinance was Amended to Expand its Scope and Allow for Tighter Controls on Water Quality Management

Legislation Description of Control
Water Pollution Control (Amendment) Ordinance 1990   Removes an exemption which gave polluters the right to continue discharging as they had before the enactment of this ordinance and extends the ordinance's protection to ground water and water supply catchments.
Water Pollution Control (Amendment) Ordinance 1993   Requires property owners to connect wastewater to the public foul sewerage system, ensures that private communal sewage treatment plants are operated properly and allows the government to carry out the necessary work on a cost recovery basis when the government requirements are not upheld.

Details of the ordinances and regulations can be found in the "Hong Kong e-Legislation" web site of the Department of Justice at

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