Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Taking Water for Granted

A scenic view of the Dongjiang dam in Guangdong province
Why is Hong Kong so dependent on China for our water supply?

The Hong Kong government seems to think it has a good deal, getting 80 percent of our water from Dongjiang in Guangdong since 1965 for a lump sum each year.

But now the cost is going up 20 percent to HK$13.4 billion for three years, as the current agreement expires later this year.

Hong Kong lawmakers visited Dongjiang last week
On a recent trip to the river, pan-democratic lawmakers determined this is too expensive and too much water. We annually get 820 million cubic metres, but Democratic Party lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan says Hong Kong only used 75 percent of the water last year, 80 percent most years.

"No matter how much you use, you are paying for this fixed amount. But in reality, do we really need that much water? In the past 10 years, there was only one year when we used up some 90 percent of the guaranteed water supply."

She added it was unfair that Shenzhen was paying less than HK$1 per cubic metre of Dongjiang water, while Hong Kong was paying about five times the amount.

Wong felt the current agreement needs to be changed. But will the Guangdong authorities adjust the rate and volume?

In reality we are paying too little for the water. The only way we can get people to conserve water is to make the commodity more expensive. For example, restaurants pay the same water rate as residents which is ridiculously cheap for them.

Massive pipes transporting water to Hong Kong
We also need to find our own sources of water -- why are we so dependent on China for our water? The country itself doesn't have enough clean water, meanwhile we are frittering the resource away and paying too much for it.

It makes no sense.

Singapore used to be dependent on Malaysia for water, with an 80-20 ratio much like Hong Kong and Guangdong. But it's since been reversed, with the Lion City capturing more rain water in reservoirs and having water treatment plants to recycle waste water.

Why aren't we doing the same?

Or is this a political kowtow to the motherland?

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