Tung Ping Chau faces drought as wells dry up

May 13, 2015 15:01
A villager (inset) has to get water from a well, as Tung Ping Chau has no water supply system. Photo: HK govt, Apple Daily

Tung Ping Chau, the outermost of Hong Kong's Outer Islands, is facing an increasing risk of a drought after significant drops in rainfall over the last six months, Apple Daily reported Wednesday.

Wells on the island are fast drying up, and the water in large tanks sent over by the Home Affairs Bureau earlier this month is almost used up.

Villagers said they will have no option but to evacuate the island if its water supply does not increase, meaning the stores and diving centers on the island will be forced to shut down.

More than 100 visitors take the ferry to the island on weekends for leisure activities. Tung Ping Chau is part of the Hong Kong Global Geopark.

There are five villages, but only about 10 households live on the island on a regular basis. 

The islanders have been urging the government to set up a water supply system, but the government has said it is not cost-effective to do so.

Yuen Chiu-cheung, a village representative, said the water bank, which was able to store up to three to four months’ worth of water for the island, was no longer in use, after it suffered from poor maintenance and cracks were found on its surface.

The government has failed to repair the water reserve facility.

Reporters found that public toilets on the island have no water supply for flushing and hand washing and are smelly and unhygienic.

A 70-year-old villager surnamed Wong said he moved back to the island in September looking to spend an extended vacation.

He never expected to have to go to a well to get water every day, and he has 10 plastic buckets lined up in the living room.

If the situation deteriorates, Wong said he may go back to the Netherlands, where he emigrated years ago.

The Water Services Department said it will meet residents to explore ways to tackle the water crisis.

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