You may drink it, it’s safe.
That’s the response of the Water Supplies Department after residents from several housing estates in Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan Districts complained on Sunday about the “weird odor” of tap water from their homes. They suspected the water coming out of their faucets was contaminated with motor oil or paint thinner.
But initial test results show water samples taken from the Tsuen Wan Fresh Water Service Reservoir, which supplies the affected housing estates, contain no harmful substances and are safe for drinking, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
A spokesman said the department has been coordinating with the management offices of the affected housing estates to provide technical support in draining the water from pumps and tanks as well as in cleaning the facilities.
He said the WSD will continue to closely monitor the quality of water supply in the affected communities.
The complaints came from Kwai Chung Estate, Tai Wo Hau Estate, Shek Wai Kok Estate, and Kwong Fai Circuit, all of which are public housing estates, and private housing development Kwai Fong Terrace.
The dirty water scare affected tens of thousands of residents, according to data from the district councils covering the affected estates.
Immediately after receiving the complaints and inquiries, the WSD deployed several water wagons to provide drinking water to residents in the affected communities while the water tanks in the residential estates were being cleaned.
Despite the department’s quick response, however, many concerned residents rushed to nearby supermarkets to buy bottled water. Many shelves of supermarkets near Kwai Chung Estate and Tai Wo Hau Estate were left empty as a result.
According to the WSD’s initial investigation, the unpleasant odor of the drinking water in the affected districts might have something to do with the maintenance work going on at the Tsuen Wan Fresh Water Service Reservoir.
Dr. Chan Hon-fai, who chairs the Advisory Committee on Water Resources and Quality of Water Supplies, said he was told by the WSD that the unpleasant odor came from the paint being used in the reservoir for maintenance purposes. He said the exhaust ventilation system failed to suck out the paint odor completely.
Drinking water supply from the reservoir has been suspended since Sunday night, and the WSD promised to conduct further investigation, Kwai Tsing District Council member Ivan Wong Yun-Tat said.
In the meantime, water supply for the affected communities was sourced from the Lai Chi Kok Fresh Water Service Reservoir.
Legislator Ben Chan Han-pan from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong questioned the effectiveness of the sampling test conducted by the WSD, saying he was aware none of the samples was taken from the water tanks of residential buildings in question but from standpipes with water coming from the Lai Chi Kok reservoir.
Chan asked the Director of Water Supplies Enoch Lam Tin-sing come to the Legislative Council to take questions and explain to the public what exactly happened.
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