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LCQ7: Total Water Management Strategy

Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Sophie Leung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (February 16):

Question:

It has been more than two years since the Water Supplies Department formulated the Total Water Management (TWM) strategy in 2008.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the amount of water saved at present is in line with the objectives laid down in TWM strategy; whether the Government will, on a regular basis, announce its water conservation targets in the coming five years; apart from the total amount of water to be saved, whether "average daily water consumption per person" will be used as a conservation indicator;

(b) of the models of showers for bathing and water taps of different water efficient grading registered under the Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) at present; how the authorities will assess the effectiveness of WELS; what is the timetable of including other water saving devices in WELS; whether the authorities will consider adopting other measures (e.g. providing subsidies) to encourage all households in Hong Kong to switch to using devices of higher water efficient grading;

(c) whether the authorities have assessed the actual effectiveness of public education on water conservation; if they have, of the assessment criteria and specific effectiveness; apart from publicity, what other plans they have to reduce water consumption by the public; when water consumption by members of the public remains high, how the authorities will make better use of water resources; and

(d) given that with the appreciation of Renminbi and increase in wages on the Mainland, the price of Dongjiang water will continue to rise, what corresponding measures will be adopted by the Government; in discussing the new agreement of the supply of Dongjiang water with the Guangdong provincial authorities, whether the Government has taken into consideration that the actual total water consumption in Hong Kong may be lower than the anticipated level after members of the public have reduced their water consumption; of the amount of Dongjiang water that the authorities expect Hong Kong to purchase each year under the new water supply agreement?

Reply:

President,

Since the formulation of the Total Water Management (TWM) Strategy in 2008, the Government has launched a raft of water conservations measures to enhance public education on water conservation, promote use of water saving devices, step up leakage control and extend use of seawater for toilet flushing.  We have also taken into active consideration the use of reclaimed water and kept a close watch on technological developments in seawater desalination overseas.

The Water Supplies Department (WSD) will continue to monitor the effectiveness of these measures and, where necessary, make adjustments to achieve the objective of saving 236 million cubic metres (mcm) in annual total water consumption by 2030.  To evaluate the effectiveness of these water conservation measures, we plan to conduct a random sampling survey on domestic water consumption this year to gather information on the water consumption patterns of the general public, their use of water saving devices and their knowledge in water conservation. Other information will also be collected for reference of the department in drawing up further measures to implement the water conservation strategy.

My reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(a) The TWM Strategy projects that a saving of 236 mcm in total water consumption can be achieved by 2030.  After completing the domestic water consumption survey this year, the WSD will consider the feasibility of establishing water conservation targets for the medium term and other water saving targets in addition to the above total water saving target.

(b) The Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme (WELS) for showerheads for bathing and water taps were launched in September of 2009 and 2010 respectively.  As at January 31, 2011, the numbers of showerheads and water tap models registered under the Scheme are as follows:

Water Saving
Devices        Grade 1  Grade 2  Grade 3  Total
------------  -------  -------  -------  -----
Showerheads
for bathing      97       17        18     132

Water taps        9       10         6      25

The WSD will implement the WELS for other water-consuming appliances in phases.  The WELS for washing machines and urinals will be launched in March 2011 and early 2012 respectively.

The domestic water consumption survey to be conducted shortly by the WSD will help assess the effectiveness of WELS.  In the meantime, we consider that encouraging the public to change their water consumption habits to save water through education is more important than providing subsidy.  To this end, the WSD has strived to inculcate water saving habits in the public through various initiatives and activities, including regular talks and seminars on saving drinking water, school publicity campaigns, and media promotions on water conservation.

(c) The WSD's random sampling survey on domestic water consumption in this year will provide data for the department to assess the effectiveness of public education on water conservation.

In addition to various publicity initiatives, the Government plans to set up a public water conservation education centre to enhance public education.  The centre will disseminate information to help the general public understand the importance of water conservation and encourage them to cultivate water conservation habits.  With increasing public awareness, there will be room for further water saving.

(d) The current water supply agreement with Guangdong authorities for purchasing Dongjiang water covers a 3-year period from 2009 to 2011, with the annual lump sum payment fixed within the agreement period.  Therefore, the recent appreciation of Renminbi and wage increases in the Mainland will not affect the payment for Dongjiang water supply for the current year.  We will take into account the actual total water consumption in Hong Kong when negotiating with the Guangdong provincial authorities for a new agreement on Dongjiang water supply.  According to our current estimate, an annual supply of 820 mcm will be sufficient to guarantee continuous water supply in Hong Kong even under extreme drought conditions with a return period of 1 in 100 years.

Ends/Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:55

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