LCQ16: Supply of fresh water for ships

     Following is a question by the Hon Steven Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, in the Legislative Council today (July 6):
     Some marine workers (including fishermen) from various districts have persistently relayed to me for many years that fresh water supply facilities for ships are gravely insufficient. They only rely on the seven Water Selling Kiosks of the Water Supplies Department (WSD) which supply water for ships, and "water boats" which sell fresh water, for barely maintaining the fresh water supply needed for their work and living. Moreover, quite a number of them are compelled to waste much time in going to a public standpipe located far away from the typhoon shelter to get water. It is learnt that some water boats may cease operation, thus aggravating the problem of fresh water supply for ships. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) apart from the aforesaid seven Water Selling Kiosks, whether the Government has currently provided other fresh water supply facilities for ships; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether it has formulated planning standards for typhoon shelters' fresh water supply facilities for ships (e.g. adopting the area of a typhoon shelter as a planning parameter); if so, of the details, and whether it has regularly reviewed or revised such planning standards; if it has not formulated such planning standards, the reasons for that;
(3) whether it will apply new thinking as well as high and new technologies to enhance the services of the existing Water Selling Kiosks and the sale of water tickets, so as to meet the need of marine workers for fresh water; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(4) as it is learnt that the water supply facilities at A Kung Ngam Water Selling Kiosk have leaked water for more than a year and have not yet been repaired, which has led to not only a waste of fresh water but also an increase in the time spent by marine workers in getting water, of the regular repair and maintenance mechanism put in place by WSD for the water supply facilities of the seven Water Selling Kiosks; and
(5) of the following information in each of the past five years in respect of the seven Water Selling Kiosks: the public expenditure, staffing establishment, number of complaints received, frequency of active service, and the average time required for repairing damaged water supply facilities (set out in a table)?
     The Water Supplies Department (WSD) strives to provide reliable and adequate wholesome potable water and to satisfy customers' needs for provision of quality water services. In fulfilling the demand for water supply for local craft and ocean going vessels, the WSD sets up water selling kiosks (Kiosks) and provides water supply for private accounts for shipping purpose. We regularly review the operation condition of the supply facilities of the Kiosks and arrange necessary maintenance and repair work to maintain stable water supply service.
     Our responses to the various parts of the question are as follows:
(1) and (2) A total of seven Kiosks locating at A Kung Ngam, Causeway Bay, Sai Wan Ho, Hong Kong Island Western District, Yau Ma Tei, Lai Chi Kok and Tuen Mun have been set up by the WSD. In planning the location of Kiosks, the WSD has taken into account factors including the water demand for shipping purpose, coverage of the water supply network and fairway restriction. The WSD will regularly review the operation condition of the Kiosks and increase the water supply facilities when necessary. From an overall perspective, the amount of water supplied by the Kiosks in the past years was largely steady and the operation of the Kiosks could meet the demand of water for shipping purpose. In addition, the WSD accepts applications for water supply to piers or berths for shipping purpose. At present, there are over 90 related water accounts distributed in typhoon shelters, piers and other locations for mooring.
(3) Customers buying water can buy water tickets in advance at the Tai Kok Tsui Customer Enquiry Centre of the WSD or at the Shau Kei Wan Marine Office of the Marine Department. Alternatively, they can directly pay by Octopus at the Kiosks. The WSD will continuously review the current arrangements in respect of the distribution of Kiosks and electronic payment options available to enhance the arrangement of selling water for shipping purpose for the convenience of marine workers.
(4) The WSD regularly reviews the operation condition of water supply facilities at the Kiosks and provides necessary maintenance and repair work to the facilities to ensure stable water supply service.
     For the cases related to the A Kung Ngam Kiosk, the WSD received reports of damage of water supply pipe in November 2020, May 2021 and June 2022 and has swiftly conducted repair works with each case completed within 10 to 15 days. Since there are other water supply facilities in the Kiosk, the operation of the Kiosk remained normal during the period of repair works. To solve the problem in the long term, the WSD is planning to carry out comprehensive replacement works to the water supply pipes of the Kiosk.
(5) Currently, the WSD operates the Kiosks by means of outsourcing with each Kiosk manned by one to two outsourced service staff on duty. The total annual cost for the outsourced service and the repair and maintenance expenses related to the WSD are about $1.5 million and $0.25 million respectively.
     Over the past five years, the WSD received 15 complaints related to Kiosks. Amongst these, 11 of them involved cases other than water supply facilities (such as staff manner, wear and tear of rubber fender and damaged railing), while the remaining four cases involved damage of water supply facilities, which have been properly handled. Details are tabulated below:
Date of complaint Water selling kiosk Damage condition of water supply facilities Time required for repairing (days)
July 2018 Western District of Hong Kong Island One set of water supply pipe damaged 4
November 2020 A Kung Ngam One set of water supply pipe damaged 14
May 2021 A Kung Ngam One set of water supply pipe damaged 10
June 2022 A Kung Ngam One set of water supply pipe damaged 15

Ends/Wednesday, July 6, 2022
Issued at HKT 14:55