LCQ18: Management of water resources
Following is a question by the Hon Kwok Wai-keung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, in the Legislative Council today (June 15):
In the past decade, Hong Kong's fresh water consumption increased substantially by more than 10 per cent (increasing from 935 million cubic metres in 2012 to 1 055 million cubic metres in 2021). The Government implemented the Total Water Management Strategy in 2008 with a view to achieving a balance between the supply of and demand for water. Regarding the management of water resources, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the annual expenditures of the Government on (i) the purchase of fresh water and (ii) the operation and maintenance of waterworks, as well as the annual water charge revenue received, in the past five years;
(2) of the annual actual amounts of Dongjiang water supplied and the changes in such amounts, in the past five years;
(3) of the respective numbers of (i) flow controllers for water taps distributed free of charge and (ii) times of free onsite installation of flow controllers at water taps and showers for domestic households by the Water Supplies Department, in each of the past three years; the respective numbers and percentages of households from public and private housing which participated in installing such flow controllers; whether it has compiled statistics on the water consumption levels of those households which have received/installed such flow controllers, so as to review the effectiveness of this measure;
(4) given that in 2017, the Government set a goal of reducing per capita fresh water consumption by 10 per cent by 2030 at the earliest, of the progress of the relevant work, and whether measures are in place to achieve that target ahead of the schedule;
(5) whether it will expedite the development of reclaimed water and seawater desalination, as well as formulate long-term water supply targets for these two areas, so as to develop alternative water sources; and
(6) whether it will review water charges and encourage households to save water by way of offering water charge rebates?
The Water Supplies Department (WSD) has implemented the Total Water Management Strategy (the Strategy) since 2008 to ensure water security and support the sustainable development of Hong Kong. The WSD completed a review of the Strategy in 2019. The review confirmed that major initiatives in both water demand and water supply management under the Strategy had achieved their respective milestones. The Strategy was also updated to adopt a two-pronged approach with emphasis on containing fresh water demand growth and building resilience in fresh water supply to cater for extreme effects of climate change with diversified water resources.
The Government will continuously monitor the water demand and supply situation, and the changes in various relevant factors such as the technological development in relation to water resources, changes in water demand, etc, for timely review and updating of the Strategy to ensure water security and support the sustainable development of Hong Kong.
The responses to the various parts of the question are as follows:
(1) In the past five financial years, the Government's expenditures on purchasing Dongjiang (DJ) water, operation and maintenance of the water supply system, and the revenue from water charges are shown below:
||Expenditure on purchasing DJ water
|Expenditure on operation and maintenance of water supply system
|Revenue from water charges
* The water charge concession from December 1, 2019 to November 30, 2022 for non-domestic users has been taken into account.
(2) Under the "package deal deductible sum" principle of the prevailing DJ water supply agreement, the annual DJ water supply to Hong Kong is guaranteed by a supply ceiling quantity of 820 million cubic metres (mcm). Besides, the Government can flexibly import the required amount of DJ water according to the local yield and water demand. The actual amount of DJ water intake over the past five years is tabulated below:
||Actual amount of DJ water intake
|Changes from previous year
(3) The number of households received flow controllers from the WSD and the number of households enjoyed the free installation service of flow controllers provided by the WSD in the past three years are as follows:
|Number of households received flow controllers from the WSD for self-installation
|Number of households received flow controllers with installation service provided by the WSD in public housing estates
|Number of households received flow controllers with installation service provided by the WSD in private residential premises
(Remarks: Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the WSD has suspended the installation service of flow controllers a number of times upon the request of the housing estates. This resulted in the fluctuation of the above figures in relation to the numbers of households received flow controllers and those enjoyed the free installation service of flow controllers.)
To review the effectiveness of the installation of flow controllers, the WSD conducts data analysis regularly to compare the water consumption of households before and after the installation of flow controllers. The analysis revealed that the water consumption of a household could be reduced by about 14 litres per day on average after the installation of flow controllers, which accounts for about three per cent of the average water consumption of a household.
(4) To achieve the goal of reducing the per capita fresh water consumption by 10 per cent by 2030 at the earliest (with 2016 being the base year), the Government has implemented a series of measures, including promotion of water conservation, water loss management and expansion on the adoption of lower grade water (including seawater and recycled water) for non-potable purposes. With the implementation of relevant measures, a decreasing trend on the per capita fresh water consumption was once demonstrated in 2019. However, there has been continuous growth in fresh water consumption arising from the pandemic in recent years. Nevertheless, the Government will continue to strive to achieve the above target of reducing the per capita fresh water consumption.
(5) Apart from expanding the use of seawater for toilet flushing to more areas under the aforesaid plan for the expansion on the adoption of lower grade water (including seawater and recycled water), the Government has been actively promoting the use of recycled water (i.e. reclaimed water, treated grey water and harvested rainwater) for toilet flushing and other non-potable purposes so as to develop new water sources. The Government will supply reclaimed water to the Northeast New Territories (including Sheung Shui and Fanling) for toilet flushing and other non-potable purposes in phases starting from 2024 onwards, and the construction of relevant infrastructure is in progress. Moreover, the Government is constructing a district-based grey water recycling supply system at the Anderson Road Quarry development area with the target of commissioning in 2024 to supply treated grey water for toilet flushing and other non-potable purposes within the development area. To further control the demand growth of fresh water supply, the Government will continue to expand the use of reclaimed water to other new development areas and those areas still being supplied with fresh water for toilet flushing so long as it is technically feasible and cost effective. In the long run, the Government anticipates that the lower grade water for non-potable purposes could account for about 25 per cent of the total water consumption in Hong Kong.
Moreover, to cope with the impact of climate change, the Government is constructing the first stage of the Tseung Kwan O Desalination Plant with the target of commissioning in 2023. Such desalination plant has a capacity of producing desalinated water of 50 mcm per year, which accounts for around five per cent of the total annual fresh water demand in Hong Kong. In view of the future water demand situation, the Government will consider in due course the implementation of the second stage of the Tseung Kwan O Desalination Plant to increase the proportion of desalinated water in the total fresh water supply in Hong Kong.
(6) There are a number of factors that need to be considered in adjusting water charges, including the financial situation of water supply operation, affordability of the public, economic situation of the society and overall water consumption situation in Hong Kong. At present, the Government has no plan to adjust water charges or offer concessionary rebates in order to encourage more public participation in water conservation.
As compared to adjusting water charges or offering concessionary rebates, the Government is of the view that enhancing the public's understanding of water scarcity, raising their awareness of cherishing precious water resources as well as cultivating them to develop water-saving habits on their own initiatives are more effective in reducing water consumption. The Government will continue to take forward relevant publicity and education.
Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:02