Following is a question by the Hon Tang Ka-piu and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (October 30):
According to the information from the Water Supplies Department (WSD), tap water supply is at present available to about 99.9 per cent of the population in Hong Kong, and 6 000-odd people are not yet supplied with tap water, including the residents of Tai Long Village on Lantau Island and Po Toi Island. Some residents of Tai Long Village have complained to me that while they rely on stream water for daily consumption, the stream water dries up during dry seasons in autumn and winter. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the names of the villages in Hong Kong yet to be supplied with tap water, and the number of households and the population of each of these villages, set out by District Council district;
(b) of the numbers of requests for assistance or complaints received by WSD from residents regarding unavailability of tap water in each of the past three years, and the districts involved in such complaints;
(c) whether the authorities have conducted any technical feasibility study and cost-effectiveness assessment in the past three years in respect of laying fresh water mains for areas yet to be supplied with tap water; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(d) given that the authorities have formulated schemes of "Water Supply to Remaining Remote Villages in the New Territories" and have arranged the supply of tap water by phases to some of the remote villages (such as Wu Kau Tang Village and Tai Ho Village), whether they have formulated any timetable for supplying tap water to all the households in the remaining villages that are yet to be supplied with tap supply; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; given that the Government has stated that if the development of the adjoining areas of remote villages makes water supply schemes more economical, it will reconsider the supply of water to the villages concerned, whether the adjoining areas of the villages with no tap water supply have not undergone any development in the past decade, so that the Government has not reconsidered the water supply schemes; if so, of the details;
(e) of the details of the water supply services provided by WSD to residents of areas or villages that are yet to be supplied with tap water since 2003; of the amount of public money spent on such services in the past three years; whether it has taken any measure to ensure that residents of villages relying on stream water for daily consumption can still have supply of water meeting hygiene standards during the time when the stream water dries up; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(f) whether the Government has signed any international convention to undertake that the people of Hong Kong will be provided with stable and clean water supply for daily consumption; if it has, of the details?
At present, the coverage of the treated water supply network in Hong Kong is about 99.9%. Areas without treated water supply are mainly those remote villages with sparse population. Although these remote villages are without treated water supply, there are raw water systems supplying stream or well water for domestic consumption. These raw water supply systems have been in use for many years and are under the maintenance of the Home Affairs Department (HAD). Moreover, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) regularly monitors and tests the raw water quality to confirm whether the raw water in these villages is suitable for potable consumption.
The Tai Long Village is located at the southern coast of Lantau with population of about 28. It is using a raw water system supplying stream water for domestic consumption. In the past three years, the Government has not received any complaint or request for assistance due to the dry out of the local stream course. As for the Po Toi Island, it has population of about 20. It is also using a raw water system supplying stream water for domestic consumption. From 2010/11 to 2012/13, the Islands District Office has received eight notices from the Po Toi residents about the shortage of raw water on the Island. In response, the Islands District Office has arranged the delivery of potable water to Po Toi Island for use by the residents on these occasions. The Government is always concerned about and keeps under regular review the water supply in these remote villages.
My reply to the Hon Tang Ka-piu's question is as follows:
(a) Out of the 18 District Councils, 24 villages within seven District Councils are currently without treated water supply. These villages and their estimated population are listed in Annex 1.
(b) In the past three years, the Government has received requests for treated water supply from 11 villages in four District Councils. The villages include Tung Ping Chau in Tai Po District; Nim Shue Wan (including Cheung Sha Lan), Tai Long (South Lantau), Sham Ah Shui, Yi O (West Lantau) and Po Toi Island in Islands District; Tung Ah, Tung Ah Pui, Ngan Hang and Lan Nai Wan in Southern District, and Mui Tsz Lam in Sha Tin District.
(c) and (d) The Government is always concerned about and keeps under regular review the water supply in the remote villages. In the past 10 years, the Government has completed treated water supply systems for 18 remote villages as listed in Annex 2. Moreover, the Government has commenced the engineering design for the treated water supply system for Tung Ah, Tung Ah Pui, Ngan Hang and Lan Nai Wan villages in Southern District. The construction works are anticipated to commence in 2014 for completion in 2016. We also undertake regular review of the assessment for the provision of treated water supply to other remote villages. As these remote villages are far away from the existing government water supply system and most of them are located at high ground, the treated water supply system for these remote villages will require pump house, high level water tank, long distance water mains and the associated leak detection and monitoring facilities. Given the sparse population of these remote villages, preliminary financial assessment reveals that the per capita capital cost for extension of the water supply system to these villages will be high. Furthermore, we have to consider other factors such as the availability of other water sources, the raw water quality, cost effectiveness, etc. At the same time, we have to consider if the water consumption will be low and cause stagnant water inside the water mains resulting in deterioration of water quality. Should the Government decide to provide treated water supply to these remote villages in future, we will submit funding application in accordance with the current procedures for the implementation of treated water supply system.
(e) As mentioned in the first paragraph above, there are raw water supply systems in those remote villages without treated water supply. The FEHD regularly monitors and tests the raw water quality to confirm whether the raw water in these villages is suitable for potable consumption. In the event that there is a dry out of the local stream course, the Government will provide assistance including the provision of potable water to meet the need of the residents. The HAD will also from time to time improve the raw water supply systems in the remote villages. For instance, the Islands District Office has constructed water pipes and installed additional water storage facilities for Cheung Sha Lan, Tai Long Village and Fan Lau. In addition, it has provided three water storage tanks for Po Toi Island. Moreover, the Tai Po District Office has twice installed additional water storage facilities and improved water pipes and water storage facilities for the villages in Tung Ping Chau.
In 2010/11, 2011/12 and 2012/13, the expenditure incurred by the Government for the improvement and maintenance of the raw water supply system and the monitoring the raw water quality in the remote villages are $1.02 million, $1.76 million and $1.11 million respectively.
(f) At present, there is no international convention on commitment to ensure that the citizens are provided with stable and clean domestic water supply.
Ends/Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:30