Earlier Legislative Councilors visited Dongjiang and met the Mainland bureaus and local governments responsible and saw that they have worked hard to ensure and protect water quality in the Dongjiang River. As the newest agreement will go into effect in late 2017, we propose to negotiate and implement a “pay by volume” system in order that we only pay for water we actually use. In the long term Guangdong and Hong Kong should set up an open, clear and predictable method to adjust the water fee. We should diversify our water supply, lessening our dependence on the Dongjiang.
The DAB has suggestions regarding the diversion of Dongjiang water to Hong Kong, which are as follows:
1.Even though the current “package deal lump sum” method of payment for Dongjiang water ensures that the amount of water diverted to Hong Kong remains stable, we actually use less water than the amount diverted to Hong Kong. This has led to Hong Kong society feeling that the HKSAR government has paid too much for water over the past few years. The current “package deal lump sum” arrangement ensures that Hong Kong’s water quota is met, but it is unable to allow us to pay for water actually used. The Guangdong side has expressed interest in discussing related methods and this requires the HKSAR government to provide a report. However, the price for each unit of water in a “pay by volume system” and the “package deal lump sum” will be different (cubic metres). Also, as Shenzhen and Dongguan have already used up their water quotas, their quotas will be increased accordingly. Therefore we propose that the new report on the system of water procurement in the Dongjiang River by the HKSAR government should request Guangdong to provide the price for each cubic metre of water. This will help assess the risk of neighbouring cities competing for the same water. In ensuring that Hong Kong receives its guaranteed share of water, actively research, negotiate and implement a “pay by volume” system in order that we only pay for water we actually use and therefore waste less of our precious fresh water resources.
2.Currently the prices for water in the arrangement are calculated according to the cost of currency exchange, the changes in price indices in Guangdong and Hong Kong and the operating costs of water supply. As the price indexes in Guangdong and Hong Kong are changing, the basis for tweaking the price calculation should be done according to current prices. As the RMB is becoming global, Hong Kong should consider using RMB to pay for Dongjiang water in order to cut down on the costs incurred during currency exchange, and therefore lower the price of water as a whole.
3.According to the Guangdong-Hong Kong agreement, the current adjustment of the water fee contract is renewed every three years. The newest agreement will go into effect in late 2017. Over the past three years (2014-2016), the RMB has fallen in relation to the HKD, and the rise in consumer prices has slowed. The fee increase for the new agreement should decrease, and we urge the HKSAR government to use this fact to negotiate a contract more favorable to us. Speaking in the long term, our society does not really understand the Guangdong-Hong Kong water agreement nor do they understand the guidelines and applications of the water fee adjustment. We feel that the HKSAR government should, when the time is right, increase its level of transparency on fee adjustments for Dongjiang water. Thus, in the long term Guangdong and Hong Kong should set up an open, clear and predictable method to adjust the water fee.
4.Guangdong and China as a whole are facing shortages of fresh water, so Hong Kong should not over-rely on the Dongjiang River for fresh water, and Hong Kong should increase its self-sufficiency in finding and developing sources of water. Therefore, the HKSAR government should review the Total Water Management (TWM) act of 2008, and we should strengthen the ability of our own reservoirs to provide more water, and quickly allow desalinated ocean water and reclaimed water to enter and diversify our water supply, lessening our dependence on the Dongjiang.
Also, Hong Kong should develop to become a “Sponge city” and to set up a Hong Kong-wide system that will collect rainwater. This rainwater should be harvested and stored underground in “underground sponges” that will collect, purify and store water. In times of need, this stored water from collected rain could be used and become a new source of fresh and potable water in Hong Kong.