Pollution in our waters

What a fantastic weekend ! The visability was so good the Chinese islands to the East near Daya Bay seamed like a stones throw away. 45km + It is a shame we cannot say the same about the sea condition. I was guiding a group of tourist. We kayaked and explored the islands and waters south of High island reservoir. They thought the day was just great but I was umbarrassed due to the floating debris which was noticable every 5 meters. At one point my support boat was brought to a stand still by yet another rice bag. Floating oil drums, fridges, Watsons, Park'n' shop and wellcome bags everywhere ! We were very fortunate to kayak in th clearest water in the area, friend who hiked to Tai Long Wan were very disappointed as the Red tide was so bad they could not go for a swim to cool off. I don't think the government can blame China anymore, alot of this rubbish is coming from the extreme amout of HK local tour boats ! I spend 3 to 4 days a week out on the water and the situation is getting serious. Most people enjoy the water one a week or even once a month so they do not see the impact. How can we solve this problem and make our public aware? Paul

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Hi kayakandhike, welcome to the forums. Yes, some top weather over the weekend.

But even on Cheung Chau (where red tide not noted in media reports), I swam on Friday and came out with fair amount of algae on me - didn't notice it was red, but maybe related. There weren't plastic bags etc - but it just needs an easterly wind, and sure enough these and other floating lap sap blow inshore. :x

Martin Williams's picture

red tide froth lantau

Well, this thread has been very quiet for a long time! But that doesn't mean that Hong Kong's water pollution woes have miraculously gone away in past four years or so.

Here's a shot from a couple of days ago; kind of scene that's too typical in summers lately (common last year) - ruddy brown water, froth in wakes of passing ferries; just south of Lantau, north of Cheung Chau. I believe as red tide occurring.

I recently spent a day diving at Long Ke Tsai - the seabed is absolutely littered with plastic bags - I think the place has more bags than my local Park N Shop. I spent the best part of four dives shoving as much stuff as I could into my BC pockets and I hardly made a dent on the amount of rubbish down there.

It is a real shame that a place which is so beautiful above water is so messy underneath. I've dived all over HK and this is the worst I have seen - I have no idea if this is just detritus blown into the bay before sinking (or hitting the beach which was pretty messy too) or whether, as I suspect, it is down to the multitude of pleasure boats and junks that visit the place on any given weekend. Either way, not nice and a real shame.

I have seen the waters so disgusting here that I will not even go in... but the beaches are still open and the lifeguards claim the water is clean... Maybe the water is but the beach is not, littered with debris/ broken glass/ bottles full of ? who knows? is there any suggestions on how to address this issue in HONG KONG>

Martin Williams's picture

I think the lifeguards may be right, if re bacteira - like E. coli - concentrations being low. I've seen lots of plastic bags etc etc etc in relatively clear water; seen murkier water with little refuse: the murkier stuff may be more of a health issue.

I haven't seen so much glass on beaches; this will depend on location, as likely local origin, such as idiots who drink and then dump n smaks their bottles: polystyrene and so on can come from some distance away.

Very, very hard to get more done about this: I've been in HK over 20 years, and throughout there has been some info on reducing rubbish etc, yet pollution issue remains. Some beaches better now: like southern HK Island, thanks to sewage scheme. But others, esp north of west Kowloon, remain grim - inc for bacteria.

I invariably swim w head out of water; try n swiftly spit out any sea water that does get in my mouth.

Also, though beaches and water unsightly and can indeed be filthy, the main health issue is all around us: in the dangerously dirty air.

Martin Williams's picture

From S China Morning Post, on 13 May 2012:

Shenzhen seas seriously polluted
Only 38pc of coastal waters off the city found to be clean, 2011 study by urban planning body shows
Sally Wang
 
Nearly half of Shenzhen's coastal waters were found to be seriously contaminated last year, and nine sewage drainage lines were found to be discharging excessive pollutants, according to a maritime study.
A professor of marine chemistry says the problem could worsen this year, as some temporary efforts to improve water quality last year for the World University Games are no longer in effect.
The 2011 study, issued on Wednesday by Shenzhen's Urban Planning and Land Resources Commission, found a total of 565 square kilometres of seriously contaminated seawater. Of the remaining waters, 145 square kilometres were lightly or moderately polluted, and 435 square kilometres were clean.
The contaminated waters were concentrated in Deep Bay and at the mouth of the Pearl River. Inorganic nitrogen and phosphates were the major pollutants.
Though the report covered only waters off Shenzhen, Professor Xu Hong , who has taught marine chemistry at Shenzhen University, said that the contaminated water could make its way to other areas, including Hong Kong.
He blamed illicit discharging of pollutants, along with a lack of oversight, for the heavy pollution. "The government has been addressing excessive discharge through campaigns rather than regular monitoring and checks," he said.
Xu said rapidly increasing pollution caused the high contamination levels in waters of western Shenzhen.
In comparison, seawater quality in the city's east was found to be much better. In Dapeng and Daya bays, both in east Shenzhen, the contamination level was in the first and second categories of the national seawater standards, indicating relatively clean water. But the water in Deep Bay - also known as Shenzhen Bay - and the mouth of the Pearl River was in the fourth category, the worst.
Excessively polluting sewage drains were found responsible for seriously contaminated water near the Kuichong River in the east, and near a sewage-treatment plant in the western Shekou Industrial Zone.
Nitrogen and phosphorus discharged from domestic sewage lines near Deep Bay and the mouth of the Pearl River, coupled with excessive heavy metals from industrial waste in the city's western region, are adversely affecting the marine ecosystem, the study found. There has also been oil pollution from the city's busy ports.
The water quality was better last year than in 2010, according to the report, which pointed to the efforts made ahead of the World University Games the city hosted in August.
Most areas off Shenzhen where seafood and other marine products are farmed met safety standards, as they are mostly in the east.
The two major beaches in the city, at the Dameisha and Xiaomeisha seaside resorts, also recorded good water quality last year, with the waters of Dameisha good for swimming for about 82 per cent of the 190 monitored days from April to October, while in Xiaomeisha the waters were good more than 93 per cent of the time.

- so western Hong Kong, including waters around Lantau and nearby, affected by this severe pollution in west Shenzhen waters. I believe it's contributing factor for the red tides that now often affect areas such as north of Cheung Chau, as in above photo.