Does Hong Kong Have a water pollution problem?


1. Solution
2. Organic Pollution
3. Agricultural Pollution
4. Toxic Wastes
5. Thermal Pollution
6. Conclusions


"Water pollution is a global problem, and is particularly serious in crowded cities such as Hong Kong." (

"…Scientists warned pollution could worsen during and after heavy rain and advised swimmers to stay away from beaches for up to three days after a storm." (Sept 18 South China Morning Post)

"Red tides are expected to be a serious and sustained problem for Hong Kong" (South China Morning Post)

Water pollution problem has already become a serious problem in Hong Kong. There are many different sources of water pollution. They include organic pollution, agricultural pollution, toxic waste, and thermal pollution. All of these will lead to the same result – the deteriorating of water condition. In the following, I will discuss each of them in detail.

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Organic pollution

Hong Kong is a dense populated city. Therefore, there is much sewage to be discharged into the environment every day. The sewage is the food of some microscopic algae. When there is much sewage in the sea or rivers, the algae can grow in large number that will eat up much of the oxygen in water. The water will become oxygen depleted. Then the fish will be lacking in oxygen and may die. This is what people called "red tides". This severely affects the fishing industry of Hong Kong.

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Agricultural pollution

Another source of sewage problem is from the agriculture. In the farm, there are lots of animals’ sewage such as pigs and chickens. The sewage, if discharged into the river, will cause problems similar to that of the "red tides". The fish in the river will be die of lacking in oxygen.

Moreover, there are some farmers that use toxic materials in removing the harmful worms in growing their plants. If these toxic materials is washed into the river, the water condition will turn bad. This not only affects the fish in the river, human beings are also affected because the water may flow into the river and we may also eat those fish living in the polluted water.

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Toxic waste

The Hong Kong electroplating industry discharges about 800kg of nickel sulphate into the water. The nickel sulphate is toxic in two ways – "in posing hazards to the neural system (neuro-toxic) and also in possibly causing gene mutations (mutagenic)." (

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Thermal pollution

We throw lots of rubbishes and dirty water into the sea and it makes the water temperature being higher and higher. This will make less oxygen in the water and the natural resistance of marine organisms to infections will be lower.

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The Major source of Hong Kong’s water pollution is people living in Hong Kong. People and their pets produce all the wastes, sewage and dirty things into the sea. The Government should be strict to people who are littering. If we don’t stop this immediately, Hong Kong will become a really polluted city!

What steps is/has Hong Kong taking/taken to deal with the problem?

Hong Kong is one of the pioneers in environmental protection. Though Hong Kong has started the work early, the results have not been very successful. This may be due to various factors. One obvious reason is that the increase in the number of people in Hong Kong is so fast that the environmental protection work cannot keep up with. Another reason is that education work on environmental protection has not been implemented. Hong Kong citizens therefore in general do not have the sense of protecting the environment. In below, the work that has been done and is still carrying on will be listed.

Clean Hong Kong Campaign

In the 70s, the Hong Kong government set up a "Clean Hong Kong Campaign" to educate people the importance of keeping the environment clean. The representative figure was the "litter monster", which is negative. People who throw rubbish onto the floor were termed as "litter monster". This campaign has been yet ended. In recent years, the Hong Kong government introduces a positive figure, "clean dragon", to honor people who keep Hong Kong clean. This indicates that the government has realized the importance of using positive reinforcement in educating people about the importance of environmental protection.

Water treatment plants

The dirty water produced by people in residential and non-residential areas cannot be discharged into the sea or river directly because this will lead to water pollution. The government therefore started many years ago to construct water treatment plants to reduce the effect of the dirty water before discharging it into the sea. The cost of running the water treatment plant was obtained directly from the government tax and rates. Hong Kong citizens did not need to pay extra fees on this. As the number of people in Hong Kong increases so fast, the Government introduced a sewage charge on those who uses water in Hong Kong. This sewage charge is directly used for treating dirty water before discharging into the sea. Therefore the water quality can be improved.

Environmental protection department

Besides water treatment plants, Hong Kong government has also set up the Environmental protection department. The department is to help the government in working on all the matters concerned with environmental protection. This includes the setting up of ordinance, indices in measuring different types of pollution, educating the Hong Kong citizens the importance of protecting the environment, and working with other government departments to enforce the environmental protection policies.

Environmental protection laws

Many laws and ordinance have been set up in helping the government to enforce the environmental policies. These include the Noise Control Ordinance, Air Pollution Control Ordinance and Pollution Control Ordinance. These ordinances give the government the necessary power to enforce environmental protection and to punish the people who pollute the environment.


Different ways to educate people about the importance of protecting the environment are used. This includes talks given to students, radio and television programmers in promoting the importance of protecting the environment. Many TV stars are invited to involve in these programmers so that the young people can be attracted to watch TV programs. Moreover, there are materials prepared for teachers to teach environmental protection in school. Though this is not part of the formal curriculum, its importance is no less than that of others.

Introduction of Sewage charge

Money is never enough in protecting the environment. This is because the environment cannot be recovered in short period of time. Therefore, the government determined to introduce a new charge on people discharging dirty water so as to reduce the financial burden of the government and give people a sense on the cost of it. Sewage charge was therefore introduced. As it is difficult to find out how much dirty water has been discharged, the Water works department therefore calculates the charge based on the amount of water used. There was once a debate on this but has now stopped. Besides, different rates in calculating sewage charge is levied on residential, commercial and industrial use. For some special type of industry which discharge trade effluent, another charge from the Drainage Authority will be levied.

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