Twenty years after the first residents moved in, Tung Chung households are still flushing their toilets with drinking water and will be for at least six more years.
Currently all of Tung Chung’s 80,000 population uses freshwater from the Shek Pik and Tai Lam Chung reservoirs for flushing, in contrast to the use of saltwater in most of the city.
Pipes to carry saltwater have been installed but a pumping station won’t be built until reclamation for the Tung Chung East development has been completed in approximately 2023.
At an Islands District Council meeting last month, a senior Water Supplies Dept (WSD) engineer acknowledged that the pipes have been in place for many years.
District Councillor Eric Kwok, who raised the issue, said he had been told by the Water Supplies Dept (WSD) in 2009 that the pipes were already installed and asked why a temporary pumping station had not been built.
The WSD engineer said the original plan was to build the pumping station in the land reclamation area, but this was cancelled because the scale and planning for the new development changed.
He said WSD was working with Civil Engineering and Development Dept to make sure a pumping station, salt water service reservoir and pipes would be a part of Tung Chung reclamation and expansion. This was forecast to be complete in approximately 2023.
WSD told Legco last year that 345,000 of Hong Kong’s 2.5 million households, mostly in remote New Territories or islands districts, are still using freshwater flushing.
In a new report on local water supply, think tank Civic Exchange said Hong Kong was one of the world’s highest per capita consumers of water, with steep growth in demand since 1990. It says despite abundant rainfall the city is “actually more water scarce than parts of the Middle East.”
Photo: Shek Pik Reservoir (Lantau News)