Wa­ter leaks cost HK$530m a year

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - TOP NEWS - By ASKA CHEONG in Hong Kong askacheong@chi­nadai­lyhk.com

Hong Kong’s om­buds­man urged the Wa­ter Sup­plies Depart­ment to step up wa­ter­pipe main­te­nance as leak­age from gov­ern­ment mains last year cost the city HK$530 mil­lion.

The vol­ume of fresh wa­ter leak­ing from in­fras­truc­ture could fill more than 38,000 stan­dard-size swim­ming pools and would have met de­mand from about 2 mil­lion peo­ple in Hong Kong an­nu­ally, ac­cord­ing to the re­port by the pub­lic ad­min­is­tra­tion watch­dog.

The vol­ume of salt wa­ter leak­age could fill as many as 10,000 stan­dard-size swim­ming pools, the re­port added.

“The an­nual amount of wa­ter lost in Hong Kong is quite as­ton­ish­ing,” Om­buds­man Con­nie Lau Yin-hing told a press con­fer­ence.

The om­buds­man said the WSD needs to up­grade its wa­ter-pipe sys­tems to re­duce leaks.

The leak­age rate of wa­ter mains in Hong Kong is cur­rently 15.2 per­cent — worse than the rate in a num­ber of other world cities.

Sin­ga­pore has a 5 per­cent leak­age rate while Lis­bon, in Por­tu­gal, has an 8 per­cent rate, ac­cord­ing to the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment.

“Al­though the in­ci­dents of gov­ern­ment wa­ter mains burst­ing have de­clined in re­cent years, the 88 cases of wa­ter mains burst­ing in 2017 mean that such in­ci­dents hap­pen once ev­ery four days, on av­er­age,” she said.

In 2000, the num­ber of burst wa­ter main in­ci­dents was 2,500, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. The im­prove­ment came af­ter the WSD re­newed more than 3,000 kilo­me­ters of mains since 2000 under its Re­place­ment and Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Pro­gram of Wa­ter Mains.

The re­port iden­ti­fied a num­ber of in­ad­e­qua­cies in WSD’s han­dling of gov­ern­ment wa­ter main bursts. This in­cluded in­suf­fi­cient fol­low-up mea­sures on wa­ter leak­age “hot spots” and not enough mea­sures to re­duce the leak­age rate.

Some wa­ter leak­age “hot spots” burst re­peat­edly within a month or even a week of be­ing fixed. This caused in­con­ve­nience to the pub­lic and was harm­ful to the en­vi­ron­ment, the re­port noted.

Re­spond­ing to the re­port, a WSD spokesper­son ex­plained that in Hong Kong fre­quent con­struc­tion work and heavy traf­fic caused vi­bra­tions and dis­tur­bances to un­der­ground wa­ter pipes. Moun­tains in Hong Kong also in­creased pres­sure on the wa­ter grid.

All these fac­tors in­creased the like­li­hood of wa­ter pipes burst­ing or leak­ing, the spokesper­son said.

The depart­ment wants to de­crease the wa­ter mains leak­age rate to 10 per­cent. It will study how other cities man­age their wa­ter pipes, the spokesper­son said.

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