Last week I, along with other members of the Legco panel on development, paid a visit to Guangdong province to learn about the current condition of the Dongjiang River water supply system and the measures taken by mainland authorities to ensure the quality of the fresh water supplied to Hong Kong.
As far as water quality is concerned, I was delighted to learn that the Guangdong provincial government had taken painstaking efforts over the years to make sure the fresh water supplied to our city always lives up to internationally recognized standards.
The Guangdong authorities have also devised substantial measures to protect the environment surrounding the major reservoirs along the Dongjiang River basin that collect and store water from the river in order to prevent the water from being contaminated.
In the meantime, in order to address public concerns about industrial pollution along the Dongjiang River, particularly along one of its tributaries known as the Shima River near the city of Dongguan, authorities have tightened regulation on industrial emissions throughout the Dongjiang basin, and also moved the major intake points of fresh water away from the highly polluted Shima River.
Meanwhile, a bio-nitrification plant near the Shenzhen reservoir, which came into operation back in 1998, has been purifying tens of billions of gallons of water collected from the Dongjiang River everyday by killing harmful bacteria, dissolving the ammonia and nitrides, as well as increasing the amount of dissolved oxygen in the water to make sure it is safe to drink.
Moreover, since June 2003, Guangdong authorities have been constructing a designated water pipe system stretching over 59 kilometers between Dongguan and Shenzhen to guarantee that the fresh water supplied to Hong Kong won’t be contaminated during its conveyance.
The Guangdong government is also closely monitoring all the major reservoirs, purification facilities and water pipes on a 24-hour basis to make sure nothing would go wrong.
In conclusion, I have become quite confident about the safety of the Dongjiang River water supplied to Hong Kong after having learned, during the trip, what the Guangdong authorities have been doing to ensure the water quality.
However, while I was glad to know that fresh water supplied to Hong Kong is held to the most rigorous safety standards by the mainland authorities, I believe there is still no room for complacency for the Water Supplies Department in our city.
In order to safeguard the health of our citizens, the department must continue to keep a close watch on the quality of the water supplied to Hong Kong and stay in touch with the Guangdong authorities so as to keep abreast of the latest state of pollution of the Dongjiang River.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 19
Translation by Alan Lee
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