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Victoria Harbour to continue choking on sewage

Renato Reyes

Thursday, December 21, 1995

VICTORIA Harbour's water will remain a treated sewage discharge dump until 2004, raising environmentalists' fears it might be ruined beyond repair.

The waste will be treated at Stonecutter's Island by 1997 under Stage I one of the government's sewage disposal program but the effluent will still be dumped into the "fragrant harbour", which is "Hong Kong" in Cantonese.

The oceanic outfall designed to dump treated effluent into the sea cannot be built until nine years from now.

"There is a limit to how long we can continue discharging even treated sewage into the harbour," said Lisa Hopkinson, spokeswoman for Friends of the Earth.

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"The water in the vicinity of that outfall is going to deteriorate. There is going to be a problem with nutrients and bacteria."

Environmentalists want Stage II of the Government's Strategic Sewage Disposal Program finished quickly.

"The sooner we can progress with Stage II, the better," Ms Hopkinson said.

"What are they going to do between the time that Stonecutter's Island comes on stream and the oceanic outfall is ready to prevent the destruction of Victoria Harbour?" John Hodgkiss, of Hong Kong University's ecology department, said.

Environmentalists received with a mixture of joy and frustration the news of a breakthrough in the Sino-British talks over the Strategic Sewage Disposal Scheme.

The Chinese side in the Joint Liaison Group (JLG) has given its blessings to the Sewage Disposal Scheme.

In the meantime, principal Environmental Protection officer Vic McNally said a temporary outfall was being built and would be ready by 1997. It is located at the western harbour.

"It is a first step down the road of completely cleaning up the harbour," Mr McNally said. "If we wait for seven years (from 1997 for the construction of the oceanic outfall) the harbour would be dead."

Mr McNally said Stage I of the project "would give us the breathing space to (get) us over the crisis, and buys us time to build the oceanic outfall".

Tiger's Eye: Page 12

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