Pan-democrat lawmaker Helena Wong Pik-wan urged the government to re-examine Hong Kong’s agreement with Guangdong province on water supply, saying the “unequal treaty” has caused the city to waste a lot of money for years, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In a radio interview on Monday, Wong cited a provision in the 2006 agreement which requires Hong Kong to pay an annual lump sum to the Guangdong government based on the upper limit of usage for a reliable and flexible supply of water from Dongjiang River to meet the city’s actual needs even under extreme drought conditions.
Wong said the city’s water usage from the river had reached the annual upper limit of 820 million cubic meters in only one year over the past 10 years, suggesting that Hong Kong has been overpaying for their water bills.
Her remarks came after a delegation of the Legislative Council Panel on Development paid a visit to the Dongjiang River Basin on Friday and Saturday to learn about the operation of the Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Supply System as well as measures taken by Guangdong provincial authorities in safeguarding the quality of water supplied to Hong Kong.
The delegation visited several places, including the Xinfengjiang Reservoir in Heyuan, the Taiyuan Pumping Station in Dongguan and the Shenzhen Reservoir.
Legislator Kenneth Lau Ip-keung, who led the delegation, the visit was very helpful for him and his colleagues in getting first-hand information about Hong Kong’s water supply.
Wong, who served as deputy leader of the delegation, said she appreciates the efforts by the Heyuan government to remove roads and factories near the source of Dongjiang River and improve the quality of the water supply.
However, she said the supply is still at risk of being contaminated as Huizhou city, where the river goes downstream, is highly populated.
Wong said she raised the water purchase agreement with Guangdong officials and suggested that it be revised to reflect actual usage rather than basing the payment on an upper limit of usage, but they seemed not to welcome the suggestion.
Lawmaker Lo Wai-kwok, another deputy leader of the delegation, told the radio program that Hong Kong’s overriding concern is an uninterrupted water supply.
He said the government may consider paying a fixed amount for a certain guaranteed volume of water and an additional amount on a flexible basis depending on the extra volume purchased.