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Sewage Charges

Sewage Charges
1. What is the purpose of having 2 components in the sewage charging scheme?
The sewage charging scheme contains 2 components: the sewage charges (SC) and the trade effluent surcharge (TES). The SC aims at recovering the operating cost of collecting and treating wastewater at or below domestic strength. The TES aims at recovering the additional cost of treating trade effluent with pollution level exceeding that of domestic sewage.

The two components together will result in sewage charging based on both quality and quantity or the pollution load of discharge, according to the Polluter Pays Principle.
2. Why is it necessary to introduce the sewage charges?

The sewage charging scheme, which links the sewage charges to the volume of water consumed, will make people aware of the "price" of producing wastewater. They will be encouraged to produce less wastewater and, hence, pay less sewage charges.

Some trades, which discharge effluent in excess of domestic sewage strength, are required to pay trade effluent subcharge in addition to sewage charge. More polluted the wastewater discharged, more payment is required to "clean up their act". 
 

3. What does the revenue from the sewage charges cover?
The sewage charges can only cover a portion of the operating and maintenance expenses in providing the sewage services. They include the costs associated with staff, the operating and maintenance of sewage collection and treatment facilities, and services provided by other departments, etc. The costs of providing and constructing new facilities are funded by the Government and are therefore not included in the assessment of sewage charges.
4. Since most people are subject to rates either directly or indirectly, why not make a modest adjustment to the level of rates to fund the sewage services?
We consider it more equitable to link the charges for sewage services directly to the quantity and quality of discharge than to general taxes. Otherwise, people paying heavier general taxes but producing nominal amount of wastewater will be subsidizing those discharging more pollutant.
5. What is the current composition of sewage charge payers?
Please refer to the Drainage Services Department (DSD) Sustainability Reports. The web version of the DSD Sustainability Reports have been uploaded in the web site of DSD under Publicity and Publication > Publicity. 
6. Why do householders have to pay the sewage charges if trades are the major source of pollution?
Those who pollute should pay for the cost of making good the problem - this is the Polluter Pays Principle. In fact, households contribute to half of the pollution load based on the amount of sewage generated, with industry/commerce responsible for the remaining half. Therefore, it will not be equitable to exclude households altogether. However, TES is imposed on prescribed trades to ensure that heavy polluters will pay higher unit sewage charging rates in proportion to the level of pollutant discharged.
7. Is there any exemption arrangement under the sewage charging scheme? Why an exemption scheme for households when the Polluter Pays Principle requires everyone to pay?
Exemption of SC is granted to domestic users for the first 12 cubic metres of water consumed during each of the 4-month billing period. The exemption arrangement is in line with water charges. This is fair to all domestic users as all of them enjoy this exemption.
Sewage Charging
1. Will the sewage charges increase?

To further implement the Polluter Pays Principle, the legislature has approved the gradual increase of the sewage charge over the ten years starting from 1st April 2008. It has been approved to revise the sewage charge rate from $1.20 to $1.31 per cubic metre of water supplied with effect from that date, and then to increase the rate gradually by 9.3% per annum until $2.92 per cubic metre of water supplied on 1st April 2017.

2. How are the sewage charge (SC) and trade effluent surcharge (TES) levied ?

SC is calculated based on water consumption readings provided by the Water Authority but excluding water supplied specifically for flushing purpose. It is levied only on users whose premises are connected to the public sewerage systems. The SC rates for years 1995 - 2017 are listed below. For domestic users, the first 12 cubic metres of water consumed during each 4-month billing period are exempted from SC.

Sewage Charge
Effective Period Sewage Charge Rate ($/m3)
1.4.1995 – 31.3.2008 1.20
1.4.2008 – 31.3.2009 1.31
1.4.2009 – 31.3.2010 1.43
1.4.2010 – 31.3.2011 1.57
1.4.2011 – 31.3.2012 1.71
1.4.2012 – 31.3.2013 1.87
1.4.2013 – 31.3.2014 2.05
1.4.2014 – 31.3.2015 2.24
1.4.2015 – 31.3.2016 2.44
1.4.2016 – 31.3.2017 2.67
From 1.4.2017 onwards 2.92

In addition to SC, 27 prescribed trades are required to pay TES in addition to SC to reflect the additional cost of treating their more polluting effluents. TES is calculated based on water consumption readings and the prescribed charging rates for the respective trades.

The Water Authority collects the SC and TES (if applicable) together with water charge by issuing a combined bill.

3. Do any other major cities around the world charge for sewage disposal?
Most major cities charge for sewage services. A survey carried out in 2003 for fifteen major cities in Europe, America, Australia, Asia and mainland China showed that except for mainland China, the sewage charge in Hong Kong is much lower than those in Europe, America and Tokyo.
4. What action will be taken against an unpaid sewage charge?
For the sake of convenienve to the consumers, collection of SC, TES (if applicable) and water charge is by means of a combined bill issued by the Water Authority. If a bill is not settled on or before the due date, a 5% overdue surcharge will be imposed and the Water Authority will issue a reminder to the consumer.

If the overdue amount remains unpaid upon the issuance of the reminder, the Water Authority will consider arranging for water disconnection without giving further notice. A 10% subcharge will be imposed 6 months after the due date.

Any outstanding amount will become a civil debt due to the Government. The Water Authority may invoke legal procedure, if necessary, to recover the debt.
Trade Effluent Surcharge (TES)
1. Trade Effluent Surcharge (TES)
Trade Effluent Surcharge (TES)
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