Integrating rivers into communities
In recent years, the Drainage Services Department (DSD) has been carrying out improvement works to enhance the drainage capability of rivers. In parallel, efforts are being made to integrate rivers into their surroundings by introducing green elements and beautifying the scenery so as to foster a water-friendly culture. In this year’s Policy Address, the Chief Executive has proposed to develop and take forward the concept of “Rivers in the City”. This time, I have invited two engineers of the DSD to talk to us about upcoming river revitalisation projects, and explain how to enhance connectivity between rivers and communities through the introduction of water bodies revitalisation facilities.
River improvement works with satisfactory outcomes
Over the past few years, the Government has completed a number of river improvement projects covering Ho Chung River in Sai Kung, Upper Lam Tsuen River in Tai Po and Kai Tak Nullah (Kai Tak River). These projects have not only achieved environmental beautification, but also enhanced river biodiversity with satisfactory outcomes. The Kai Tak River is now the first urban green river corridor. Apart from the revitalisation of King Yip Street Nullah in Kwun Tong into Tsui Ping River to enhance its drainage capacity, the DSD will, in line with the concept of “Walkable Kowloon East”, construct riverside pedestrian walkways, as well as walkways and landscaped decks spanning across the river to enhance connectivity along the river and with the surrounding areas (including Tsui Ping River Garden). Subject to the progress in obtaining funding approval, construction works will commence in early 2020 at the earliest.
Concept of “Rivers in the City”
According to Engineer of the DSD, Ms YIP Pui-kei, Maggie, the concept of “Rivers in the City” is to revitalise rivers and to introduce water bodies revitalisation facilities, such as artificial flood attenuation lakes and river parks in planning new development areas. The aim is to provide high-quality public space for the community and strengthen connectivity along riverside channels. Creative elements such as co-use concept will also be injected to foster interactions among people, so that they will enjoy river facilities together and experience the multiple values of water bodies. After an evaluation of the revitalisation potential of major rivers and nullahs in Hong Kong, the DSD has first identified three nullahs with high revitalisation potential - Tai Wai Nullah, Jordan Valley Nullah and Fo Tan Nullah. Revitalisation proposals of the three nullahs have been put forward to transform them into beautiful rivers with multiple functions.
Drainage channels revitalised into a large green space
Local nullahs built in early years were mainly made of concrete and designed for flood prevention with limited beautification features. Engineer of the DSD, Mr LEUNG Kin-kei, Keith, says that in formulating the revitalisation plan of Tai Wai Nullah, as its upstream section is close to the Lower Shing Mun Reservoir, it is considered desirable to retain the natural surroundings, with the main consideration being how to introduce neighbouring plants and organisms to the channel to promote biodiversity. As the midstream and downstream of the nullah are near residential areas, the 2-kilometre-long concrete drainage channel will be revitalised into a large green space. One of the project highlights is to study the feasibility to allow public access to the channel for water-friendly activities.
According to Mr Keith LEUNG, it is undoubtedly challenging to promote water-friendly activities inside a channel. As the channel is designed for flood drainage, there is a risk of flooding during rainstorms. Therefore, when designing the revitalisation works, the DSD has to come up with a comprehensive flood warning system so that people can evacuate the channel safely before flooding occurs. Another challenge is water quality. If the study finds that water quality needs to be improved, the department will explore improvement measures accordingly. The investigation and design of the revitalisation of Tai Wai Nullah is expected to commence next year, and the works are expected to start in 2024.
Revitalisation into beautiful water bodies with high ecological value
Regarding the revitalisation project of Jordan Valley Nullah, Mr Keith LEUNG says that landscaping works will be conducted at downstream and at both sides of the nullah (i.e. near Jordan Valley Park) to transform it into a beautiful water body. For example, viewing platforms will be built over the channel to provide open space for the public to view and conduct water-friendly activities. As part of the upstream of the nullah is rather secluded, plants and organisms may be introduced to the channel, with the provision of habitats such as ponds and fish ladders to enhance its ecological value. The works are expected to commence in the first quarter of 2020.
Promoting arts and culture
Regarding the revitalisation of Fo Tan Nullah, the project will not only transform the channel into a green corridor, but will also review its connectivity with the neighbourhood. Walkability between the residential area near Kwei Tei Sun Chuen and the Fo Tan Station riverbank will be enhanced for the public to enjoy the surrounding scenery. Another feature of the project is to explore any suitable space to accommodate works of community arts for the appreciation of the public along the riverbank, provided that the drainage capacity and river management will not be affected. The works are scheduled for commencement in 2024.
Unswerving determination to improve people’s livelihood
Despite recent social tensions, the Government has an unswerving determination to improve people’s livelihood. Our work in this area has not stopped. I appreciate the hard work of our departmental colleagues to bring revitalised rivers to every community and provide high-quality public space for all. Through public education and promotion of water-friendly activities, I hope we can enable the public to connect with rivers and learn more about their ecological significance. Through one project after another, we will do our best to create a good living environment for the public. Let us join hands and work together to conserve our river ecology, environment and water resources.
17 November, 2019