Environment Bureau Environmental Protection Department ENVIRONMENT HONG KONG 2008
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9 Water

 
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Mission

 

To achieve marine and inland water quality objectives that will safeguard the health and welfare of the community and meet various conservation goals, by planning for the provision of sewage facilities, intervening in the planning process and enforcing the controls in the Water Pollution Control Ordinance and the Dumping At Sea Ordinance.


THE FUTURE IS SECURE FOR A CLEANER HARBOUR


Highlights in 2007
  • A proposal to raise sewage charges over ten years was accepted by the Legislative Council, enabling the polluter pays principle to be implemented and the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme to continue.
  • Advance disinfection facilities at the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works were approved after an environmental impact assessment concluded the environmental impacts would be acceptable.
  • A site was proposed for Harbour Area Treatment Scheme Stage 2B.
  • $2.2 billion was earmarked for village sewerage.

2007 was a watershed year for Victoria Harbour. We obtained the community's agreement to long-term recovery of sewage costs, a critical and necessary step in our efforts to improve water quality. With the funding in place, the momentum behind the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) gathered pace. Disinfection facilities were approved and we identified a potential site for upgrading treatment works. After many years of debate and revision, our plans for a cleaner harbour are taking concrete and lasting form.

Victoria Harbour is a famous landmark of Hong Kong.

Victoria Harbour is a famous landmark of Hong Kong.

Funding sewage services

The polluter pays principle is the cornerstone of our strategy on funding sewage services. The Government is willing to pay the construction costs, amounting to more than $20 billion over the next ten years, but operating costs can vary with the type and quantity of effluent being produced. It is only fair and reasonable that users pay the operating costs and contribute towards cleaning up their pollution.

Currently, people pay only 54 per cent of operating costs. However, the community supports the polluter pays principle, provided affordability is taken into account. This emerged in a 2004 public consultation and the Government incorporated those views into a proposal placed before the Legislative Council (LegCo) in 2007, seeking an increase in sewage charges of roughly 9 per cent a year over ten years. That would raise the average monthly household bill from $11 in 2006-07 to $26.80 in 2016-17, and allow us to recover 80 per cent of operating costs.

The idea of committing to increments over a ten-year period attracted a lot of interest from legislators. They had one provision: that the recovery of sewage charges should not exceed expenditure, particularly if a project is delayed.

LegCo approved the sewage charge proposal, enabling the Government to proceed confidently with our strategy for achieving cleaner waters in Hong Kong.


Building HATS

The largest expenditure item in our sewerage infrastructure programme is the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS). This programme is essential for achieving cleaner water quality in Victoria Harbour, particularly in the western waters.

HATS Stage 2A flows will be transferred to Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works via a 21 km long sewage conveyance system comprising mainly deep tunnels.

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HATS Stage 2A flows will be transferred to Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works via a 21 km long sewage conveyance system comprising mainly deep tunnels.
HATS is being built in two stages. Stage 1 was commissioned in 2001 to treat 75 per cent of the harbour's sewage and brought immediate, significant improvements in water quality. However, in the western waters off the discharge site at Stonecutters Island, water quality has deteriorated. There is also the matter of the remaining 25 per cent of untreated sewage. The only way to address these issues and ensure long-term improvements to the harbour's water quality is to build the rest of HATS.

Stage 2 has been divided into two halves to make it more manageable and affordable. Stage 2A will collect the remaining untreated sewage and disinfect all treated effluent at Stonecutters Island Treatment Works to reduce pollution at the discharge site. Stage 2B will provide a higher level of treatment and handle future growth in sewage loads.

The cost differences between the two are significant. Stage 2A will cost about $8 billion to build and $420 million a year to operate. Stage 2B would cost $11 billion to build and $700 million a year to operate. A phased approach helps to ease the impact on Government expenditure and sewage charges.

The new, higher sewage rates will enable us to proceed with Stage 2A and meet its 2014 completion date. The timing of Stage 2B will be reviewed in 2010-11, taking into account trends in pollution loads and water quality. Stage 2B may require further increases in sewage charges that will have to be considered at a later date. Nevertheless, the EPD is continuing with preparation work. A possible site for Stage 2B has been identified next to the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works. This would involve co-use of land with container-related uses and other developments, and will be investigated starting in 2008.

The completion of HATS will mean development on both sides of Victoria Harbour receive proper sewage treatment and harbour water quality is adequately protected.

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The completion of HATS will mean development on both sides of Victoria Harbour receive proper sewage treatment and harbour water quality is adequately protected.

The site identified for HATS Stage 2B biological treatment plant is currently used for temporary container storage and lorry parking.

The site identified for HATS Stage 2B biological treatment plant is currently used for temporary container storage and lorry parking.


Disinfection

Stage 2A is still some years away from operation, but we can do something in the meantime to improve water quality in the western waters. By disinfecting the treated effluent from Stage 1 at Stonecutters Island, the water quality can be significantly improved. Combined with sewerage improvement works along the coast, it may then be possible to re-open four beaches in Tsuen Wan that were closed in 2003 due to deteriorating water quality.

The method for disinfection will involve chlorination plus dechlorination. This method is preferred over the other main option, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, because it can be implemented more quickly and is more flexible. Once Stage 2B is commissioned, the need for disinfection will be reduced. With chlorination plus dechlorination, we simply have to reduce the dosing in the tanks. UV radiation would have required substantial investment in hardware that would become redundant.

An example of how the visual appearance of Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works could be improved under HATS Stage 2A.

An example of how the visual appearance of Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works could be improved under HATS Stage 2A.

An environmental impact assessment of the Advanced Disinfection Facilities was approved in 2007. LegCo's Panel on Environmental Affairs and its Public Works Sub-committee also supported the project, paving the way for formal funding approval in 2008 and the start of construction works. By the last quarter of 2009, we will be disinfecting treated effluent from Stonecutters and reducing pollution in the western harbour.


Other progress in sewage services

The increases in sewage charges and the green light for the HATS' projects have been complemented by progress in other related areas. Restaurants and other trades pay a Trade Effluent Surcharge for treating their wastewater. This will be adjusted in 2008 after surveys found many of them had reduced pollution levels in their effluents.

The closed Lido Beach will benefit from the non-HATS sewerage projects.

The closed Lido Beach will benefit from the non-HATS sewerage projects.
Sewage services besides HATS are also pressing ahead. In 2007 the Government allocated $2.2 billion for the provision of public sewers in villages. From 2008-09 to 2016-17, about $12 billion will be earmarked for non-HATS sewerage projects across Hong Kong. HATS may be our largest programme, financially, but we are equally committed to improving water quality in the rivers, streams and marine waters in all areas of Hong Kong, and ensuring present and future generations can enjoy these precious natural resources.


Looking Ahead
Looking Ahead
 
  • A study on co-use of land for the proposed HATS Stage 2B site will commence.
  • Approval will be sought for the HATS Stage 2A environmental impact assessment.
  • Construction will start on disinfection facilities for the Stonecutters Island Sewage Treatment Works.
  • A two-year demonstration scheme for reclaimed water will be completed.

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