Drinking Tap Water
5.2 million bottles are bought -and thrown away- in Hong Kong every day.
Back in France, we'll drink tap water without thinking twice but here in Hong Kong, we hear a lot of contradictory information.
Our first months in Hong Kong aside -when we were doing research on water quality- we always drank tap water : adults, kids, pregnancy, baby.
Is your water safe?
If you are from another region, check your local water supplies department. If you can't get this information, UNICEF USA amongst others have mapped safe and unsafe water around the world.
In Hong Kong the website of the Water Supplies Department (WSD) is very complete.
The Water Drinking Standards in Hong Kong corresponds to the World Health Organisation’s Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality published in 2011, assuring us that "the concentration of constituents in drinking water will not result in any significant health risk to a consumer weighing 60 kg over a lifetime consumption of 2 litres per day for 70 years [...]"
Where does Hong Kong water comes from?
Source: WSD Water Conservation
Statistics from the year 2018.
Local yield. Over the years Hong Kong has developed an extensive surface water collection and storage system. About one third of Hong Kong's land is used as water gathering grounds (most of them in the territory's Country Parks). Despite all these efforts the local yield could only meet about 21% of the fresh water demand in Hong Kong. It is also unreliable as it fluctuates significantly from one year to the other.
Importation. Confronted with these challenges Hong Kong has been importing Dongjiang East River water (in the Guangdong Province) since 1965 to meet local water demand.
Sea water: Since the late 50's, the WSD has been supplying seawater for flushing in government and government-aided high density development schemes, conserving 284 million cubic meter of fresh water!
Why so many doubts on the quality of our tap water?
The citizens of Hong Kong understand that the water supplied by WSD is safe to drink but they still have doubts about heir building's piping system.
It is true that drinking water quality could be affected in the internal plumbing systems due to various factors (cleanliness, contamination or inappropriate plumbing materials).
Therefore, WSD is very active:
monitoring water quality regularly though their Water Quality Monitoring Programme (that became Water Quality Enhanced Monitoring Programme in 2017): taking water samples annually from water treatment works, service reservoirs, connection points, randomly selected publicly accessible taps and randomly selected users all over the territory.
encouraging property owners and management agents to implement Water Safety Plan for Buildings to ensure the safety of drinking water, with a very complete help desk.
At last but not least, to reassure their inhabitant, each building can apply for a Quality Water Supply Scheme for Buildings – Fresh Water Certificate (that includes 4 heavy metal check). Click for the list of buildings that have this Certification.
The taste of water
Regardless of its quality, fresh water have a natural taste dependent on their natural environment and the mineral it contains. Chlorination, one of many methods used to disinfect water from harmful microorganism, also gives water a taste.
Hong Kong water nave a strong "muddy" taste that goes away with a water filter.
Click here for Green Queen's guide of the best home water purifier systems you'll find in Hong Kong. It is very important to follow the care and cleaning instructions of your filter to keep your water pure and safe for drinking.
We use Doulton counter top, that also filter lead. Filter change twice a year.
Drinking and cooking with tap water safety recommendations.
Let the water run for a few minutes in the morning to clear any stagnant water from the pipes before using it for cooking or drinking.
Always use cold water for cooking and drinking as hot water makes it much easier for chemicals to leach into the water, like the lead from the pipes.
Activated charcoal natural filter
I highly recommend having a look at the WSD website that I found very complete and transparent on the subject, at the Water Conservation website full of tips and best practices for the general public and do subscribe to the Let's save 10 litres of water campaign 2.0 to get a pair of complimentary flow controllers for water tap!