Housing Authority response to media report on water quality in Sheung Chui Court


Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The following is issued on behalf of the Hong Kong Housing Authority:

     Regarding a media report which alleged that excess lead was found in drinking water in a new Home Ownership Scheme court - Sheung Chui Court, a spokesman for the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) replied today (July 14) as follows:
      
     Copper pipes in Sheung Chui Court were joined by soldering using lead-free solder wire. According to the Waterworks Ordinance, inside service materials and fittings of all newly completed buildings, including Sheung Chui Court, must be submitted to the Water Authority for approval prior to the commencement of works. Contractors of the HA are required to comply with the relevant statutory and administrative requirements when installing new inside service.

The materials and fittings used for the installation of inside service of Sheung Chui Court had been approved by the Water Authority. During the construction stage, staff of the Housing Department (HD) also carried out regular monitoring and control on the quality of works and the materials used. In fact, after the  "excess-lead-in-drinking-water" incident, the HA has implemented a series of enhancement measures on contract specifications, checking of delivery and verification of materials, monitoring of works and testings upon completion, in order to step up the control on the main contractors and sub-contractors, as well as the checking and testings of construction materials (including soldering material).
      
     Upon completion of installation of Sheung Chui Court's inside service, the contractor had conducted water sampling test as required by the Water Services Department (WSD), including test on lead content, to safeguard the quality of drinking water.

Water samples for testing were collected in accordance with the procedures and guidelines set out in the WSD Circular Letter No. 5/2015. The test results showed that the water samples met the acceptance criteria.

During inspection of the inside service, representatives of the Water Authority also carried out lead content inspection for the solder joints. The results also showed that the acceptance criteria were met. A compliance certificate for the completed works was issued by WSD in March 2017 to approve water supply.
      
     After we received the enquiry from the media, we consulted the WSD.

The WSD advised that during fabrication of new metal pipes and fittings, there would be minute amount of metal residue on their surface, which would be leached into water easily. If water in the system has not been used for a long time, such leached metals would accumulate in the stagnant water. Hence the WSD has always encouraged consumers to run the water taps for two or more minutes if the water supply system has not been used for a long period of time.

This will wash away the accumulated metals or other substances before water consumption. The flushed water can be stored and used for other non-drinking or non-cooking purposes. Under normal circumstances, these minute amount of residual metals will be washed away very quickly, and the leaching rate of the metal in the water pipes will be reduced to a very low level.
      
     In view of the concerned flat owner's doubt on whether there is excess lead in the drinking water, the HA, upon seeking the owner's consent, and with the WSD's technical support, will flush the water pipes thoroughly to reduce the amount of residual metals in the drinking water.

After the flushing, we will conduct water sampling test. Results will be announced when available.  



Published on: 2017-07-14

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