Civic Exchange’s Response to Public Consultation: Supply of Recycled Water In Hong Kong
While the Hong Kong government has a long-established policy direction to conserve water and to develop a water supply structure with six different sources, the city’s water consumption today still heavily relies on only three water “taps”: Dongjiang water, local reservoirs and seawater. Infrastructure for developing alternative water sources, such as recycled water, remains as pilot projects and small-scale test sites.
Wastewater can make tremendous contribution to Hong Kong’s future water security when it is recycled, treated and used in a “fit for purpose” manner. Civic Exchange welcomes the government’s plan to begin deploying recycled water as one of the main water sources for Hong Kong; however, we would like to urge the government to be more entrepreneurial in the application of recycled water while exercising caution on the impact to public health – such caution should not be merely based on perception, but be founded in proper research and technology. Treating recycled wastewater to a drinkable standard can be an expensive alternative when compared to the use of freshwater for now. However, flushing should be just one of the many non-potable usage recycled water can take in Hong Kong. International experiences show that recycled water can be used for cleaning roads and vehicles, irrigating parks and sport fields, firefighting, industrial productions, landscaping, public fountains, cooling towers and many more.
We would also urge the government to develop a holistic water strategy with long-term vision and aspirational goals. This water blueprint, coupled with public engagement and policy support, will galvanise our society to join hands in conserving this precious resource and ensuring the sustainable development of our city.