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Water in Hong Kong

Every year, during the rainy season it seems we get more than enough water. Water is a vast topic, especially in Hong Kong and not only for its Feng Shui aspects. Water is vital to Human life and a primordial resource for agriculture and other industries such as power, textile and paper, chemical or plastic. Water is essential to all for all.

In Hong Kong, water is peculiar as it is fully accessible and very often taken for granted. For example, its consumption per inhabitant is enormous, 20% higher than anywhere else in the world, and this despite the habit of 60% of the population drinking water out of plastic bottles.

This overconsumption remains an aberration especially as the Territory went through water rationing in the 1960s and 1970s. At its worst, water was only available 4 hours over 4 days!

So why this excessive consumption?

The main reason is that the water charge is particularly low and does not reflect its real cost. This does not motivate saving and encourage domestic and industrial waste amongst the city’s infrastructures where leakages are very often not fixed.

Where does Hong Kong get its water from?

With few lakes, rivers and springs, the city had very little choice but to build dams and reservoirs in order to increase water storage in the natural basins Hong Kong’s hilly landscape offered.

But with the ever-growing population, especially in the 1960s, these reserves quickly became insufficient and it was apparent that more water needed to be imported. The city of Dongjiang, in South China, now supplies 80% of the local “fresh” water. The deal is based on pre-defined water usage, whatever the real consumption and cost are. The extra cost (double the real cost) is not passed onto the consumers, hence an ever-increasing wastage.

A few years ago, Hong Kong implemented the use of seawater for sewage. With little success at first, 80% of the dwellings are now equipped with this system.

If you would like to know more about the “blue gold” and water stories in Hong Kong, book one of our tours at contact@hkalacarte.com