Government committed to flood prevention works (26/6/1998)

1 January 1997

The Government is determined to complete works of the flood prevention strategy for the northern New Territories as soon as possible to relieve the problem facing residents in low-lying areas, the Director of Drainage Services, Mr John Collier, said today (Friday).

"The main components of this strategy are river training schemes and village flooding protection schemes," Mr Collier told reporters while taking them on a tour of these projects in Yuen Long and Sheung Shui.

River training projects involve the straigthening, deepening and widening of river channels, construction of embankments and other related works to improve the flow of the rivers.

"We are making good progress on the construction of the Yuen Long Main Drainage Channel as well as the lower and middle reaches of the Kam Tim Main Drainage Channel," Mr Collier said.

"These channels are expected to be commissioned by the end of this year to bring significant relief to the flooding problem of Yuen Long Town and low-lying areas along the Kam Tin River," he added.

"Planning and design work for another 25 km of new river channels are underway, including the upper reaches of the Kam Tin River and Ngau Tau Mei Drainage Channel," he said.

Meanwhile, the Shenzhen River Regulation Project is another important flood mitigation project for the northern New Territories. The completion of Stage I works in April last year has significantly improved the situation in low-lying areas around Lo Wu, as evidenced in recent rainstorms.

Stage II works are in progress and will be completed in phases from the end of this year to 2001. Stage III, now being designed, is expected to be completed by 2004.

Training works will begin in phases within the year at the River Indus and the River Beas for completion in 2001 when similar works, now in progress, and will also be completed.

"As flood prevention works are carried out in earnest in the northern New Territories, the drainage conditions there will progressively improve," Mr Collier said.

Turning to the Village Flood Protection Schemes, he said they were aimed at low-lying villages at levels below the drainage channels."

"Under these schemes, an earth bund is constructed around vulnerable villages to protect them against flood water overflowing the river banks, while rainfall runoff with the earth bund is directed to a flood storage pond and subsequently pumped into the drainage channel," he explained.

"There are now 15 flood protection schemes in operation, and five are under construction for completion in 1998 and 1999. Another eight in the northwestern New Territories are at various stages of planning and detailed design," he said.

Mr Collier pointed out that land issues and villagers' objections for various reasons very often caused delay to these schemes.

Apart from the flood prevention strategy, there are various on-going measures to deal with the flood problems in the northern New Territories.

One of these measures is the local drainage improvement works under the Rural Planning and Improvement Strategy programme, which include 56 minor stormwater drainage projects costing $340 million.

"So far, 30 projects have been completed and six are under construction, while the remaining are being planned and designed," Mr Collier said, adding that plans were in hand to expedite the programme, including implementing some projects under a design and construction consultancy.

A second ongoing measure is the Drainage Services Department's (DSD) preventive maintenance costing $100 million a year to inspect, desilt and repair the stormwater drain system.

"This is to ensure that problematic drains are inspected on a regular basis especially before and during the rainy season, and any blockage found will be cleared and defects rectified immediately," he said.

"In addition, a special programme of inspecting flood control installations, including flood water pumping stations and local flood warning systems, is conducted each year to ensure that they will be fully operational in times of rainstorm," he said.

At the territory-wide level, Mr Collier said DSD had in early 1996 started seven studies on all flood-prone areas, including one on Yuen Long and another on the North District, to review the conditions and performance of existing stormwater systems in a comprehensive manner.

"On the basis of these studies, further local improvements to augment the river training schemes will be proposed. In addition, a computerised asset management system will be developed to facilitate future maintenance of the stormwater drainage system," he said.

The study on Yuen Long has been completed while that on the North District is well underway.

Turning to long-term management measures, Mr Collier said DSD provided drainage advice when land use plans were prepared or revised to ensure that the overall land use was compatible with the drainage requirement.

"We also require proponents of major infrastructures to carry out Drainage Impact Assessment to identify and mitigate any adverse impact to drainage in the area as part of the project," he said.

"An Advice Note setting out the required procedures is issued to private sector development proponents and Authorised Persons. A similar instruction is issued to Government departments working on public sector projects," he added.

Mr Collier finally pointed out the implementation of these projects was in no way an easy task. Its success would be the joint efforts of many Government departments including the Territory Development Department, Home Affairs Department, Lands Department, Planning Department, Agriculture and Fisheries Department, Housing Department, Environmental Protection Department and others.

End/Friday, June 26, 1998

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