The title of the Sustainability Report 2017-18 takes wisdom from the Chinese saying "The highest goodness is like water", since water benefits all things but does not compete with them. Similarly, without fanfare, the Drainage Services Department (DSD) provides effective and quality drainage and sewage treatment services to the public while striving hard to minimise their impact on the environment. This saying also corresponds to the concepts of “Blue-Green Infrastructure” and “Sponge City” we actively implement in recent years. Drainage and sewerage infrastructure used to be “Not in my backyard (NIMBY)” facilities, but by conforming to the environment, we are able to integrate the facilities with the community and have them accepted and enjoyed by the citizens. We also strive to avoid creating nuisance in the construction and operation of the facilities.
Urban Green River Corridor
In this era of swift changes and in conducting river improvement works, we must enhance the drainage efficiency of the river and its ecological values and blend it as far as possible into the landscape. Apart from optimising livability, we must promote a water-friendly culture. Among the many river improvement projects we have implemented in recent years, the one conducted at Kai Tak River, which is nearing completion, is most significant and exemplary. Kai Tak Nullah of old days has been transformed into Kai Tak River, with its drainage capacity enhanced, and vast green and ecological elements introduced. The nullah, hygienic conditions of which were less than favourable, has been turned into an urban green river corridor. I am glad to witness the project’s setting an example for future endeavours of the same kind, and re-defining the meaning of urban river improvement works.
In early 2018, we eliminated the flooding blackspot at Tung Tze Road, Tai Po, reducing the number of blackspots in the territory to six and evidently demonstrating the outstanding success of our flood prevention works. While the example of Tung Tze Road was a significant accomplishment, we are still committed to doubling our efforts to eliminate every blackspot in Hong Kong.
As a result of climate change, Hong Kong was repeatedly buffeted by typhoons in 2017. Seven tropical cyclones struck Hong Kong in the year, and on five of these occasions typhoon signal No. 8 or above were hoisted, which equalled the number of most tropical cyclones battering Hong Kong in a year recorded in 1964 and 1999 respectively. On 23 August, super typhoon “Hato” struck Hong Kong with tremendous force, requiring the hoisting of typhoon signal No. 10. It wreaked extensive damage. The storm surge it caused combined with astronomical high tide, resulted in floods in many low-lying areas of Hong Kong. Prior to the typhoon, DSD and other departments had carried out drainage improvement works in low-lying coastal areas vulnerable to storm surge, and precautionary and emergency measures were also taken. However, lessons of “Hato” led us to believe that further review of the effects of extreme storm surges and over-topping waves on coastal areas have to be conducted. Yet, solo endeavours of DSD alone might not be adequate to withstand the forces of nature. Other departments and the community as a whole must join hands to cope with the new challenges posed by extreme weather.
Relocation of Sha Tin Sewage Treatment Works to Caverns
To promote sustainable development in Hong Kong, the Government is actively expanding land resources to meet the needs of housing and social developments. The use of caverns is one of the innovative measures. The “Relocation of Sha Tin Sewage Treatments Works (STSTW) to Caverns” project aims at relocating the existing plant into artificial caverns in Nui Po Shan of A Kung Kok. Upon completion of the project, the cavern-STSTW will be the largest of its kind in Asia. The project has been many years in the making and many public engagement activities were organised to listen to the views of the public. We are now ready and raring to go on with the first phase of construction, which is anticipated to commence in early 2019. After the relocation of the STSTW, about 28 hectares of land will be released for other beneficial uses.
Taking the Extra Mile in Promoting Drainage Works
This is the fourth statement I have written for the Sustainability Report. During these four years, I witnessed the commencement and completion of projects large and small. In the process, I was deeply impressed by the drive of wholly dedicated colleagues, standing shoulder to shoulder to overcome all sorts of challenges and hardship. I am a firm believer that to boost the public’s confidence in our Department, we must keep them abreast of our achievements. To this end, we daringly ventured into new frontiers and co-organised the new media art exhibition “After the Deluge” with the Hong Kong Art Development Council at the Tai Hang Tung Stormwater Storage Tank, Mongkok in January 2018. It was a publicity campaign of “hard” flood prevention work in the “soft” form of art. Over 10 000 people attended and it was widely acclaimed. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our colleagues for not only providing excellent services, but also for going the extra mile to promote them to the public.
To improve its service, the Department is committed to keeping pace with the times. In implementation of projects and operation of facilities, we continuously endeavour to introduce new technologies into our work. One such example in recent years has been the application of sensors to collect data in order to enhance the efficiency and quality of maintenance works. Moreover, to support the policy of the Development Bureau to promote Building Information Modelling (BIM) technology, resources are deployed to train our colleagues to make good use of the system, so as to upgrade the accuracy of project design and shorten works period.
The following year will be DSD’s Thirtieth Anniversary. I would like to wish the Department smooth sailing in taking forward various drainage and sewerage projects. "The highest goodness is like water" is an excerpt from Dao De Jing, which often echoes with “Only the virtuous can bear the utmost” from The Book of Change. In this environment that ever poses new challenges, I encourage our colleagues to follow the spirit of “Do it from the Heart”, be open-minded to embrace new technologies and thinking, and strive for the best in order to provide world class sewage treatment and drainage services for Hong Kong.
Edwin TONG Ka-hung
Director of Drainage Services Department