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Member Spotlight

Chung-leung Wong, Director of Water Supplies – Water Supplies Department

The Water Supplies Department (WSD) has the mission of providing safe, adequate and reliable water supply to Hong Kong, a cosmopolitan city with a population of approximately 7.5 million. WSD is taking forward several major initiatives on drinking water safety in particular in enhancing monitoring and control of internal plumbing systems; water security to cope with the impact of climate change by developing new water resources of seawater desalination and recycled water; water conservation through implementation of education and publicity programmes, and water loss management; and supply system reliability through asset management.


Can you share some of the main challenges with regards to water supply in Hong Kong?

The water supply networks in Hong Kong comprise more than 8,000 kilometres (km) of water mains. However, due to Hong Kong’s hilly terrain and with many developments at high altitude, the operating pressure in the water supply networks is generally higher than those of other cities in order to maintain adequate pressure for premises at high grounds. In addition, the water supply networks in Hong Kong are mostly underground and in densely populated areas, with congested underground utilities, busy traffic and frequent roadworks causing vibration and disturbance to the water mains. These factors create a higher risk for bursting water mains and leakages in the water supply networks.

WSD has spared no effort in replacing and rehabilitating nearly 3,000 km of aged water mains from 2000 to 2015. This has improved the condition of the water supply networks significantly, evidenced by substantial reductions of water main bursts from about 2,500 to 40 bursts between 2000 and 2019, and a reduction in the leakage rate of freshwater mains from 25% to 15% over the same period.

Moving ahead, WSD is implementing the Water Intelligent Network, also referred to as WIN. This involves the establishment of over 2,000 District Metering Areas (DMAs) to cover the whole freshwater supply distribution network as well as installing an Intelligent Network Management System (INMS) to monitor the water loss in the DMAs. This will also help determine the priorities and the most effective measures to tackle water loss in individual DMAs, including active leakage detection and control; water pressure management; quality and speedy repair of water mains bursts and leaks; and reprovisioning of water mains beyond economical repair.

WSD is also adopting international best practices for water main asset management and for maintaining the healthiness of mains in the water supply networks through a risk-based approach.


What motivated Hong Kong WSD to join SWAN and get involved in the SWAN Asia-Pacific (APAC) Alliance?

In taking forward the various initiatives mentioned above, WSD endeavours to adopt the latest technologies and smart solutions which would enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of these initiatives. By joining SWAN, WSD can share and exchange experience and knowledge with water professionals from leading water utilities, solution providers, research institutes, academics and regulators from around the world to tackle the various water challenges faced by the global water industry.


How does smart water fit into Hong Kong’s “Smart City Blueprint”? And what smart water innovations is WSD most interested in and why?

The Hong Kong Smart City Blueprint covers six major areas, including the “Smart Environment” which encompasses the various smart water initiatives being pursued by WSD, such as WIN and INMS as mentioned above. WSD is also developing a smart water model for new development areas, incorporating various smart water initiatives, such as online water quality monitoring, real-time flow and pressure monitoring, smart pressure management, automatic meter reading, WIN, and more.

Moreover, WSD is interested and exploring the development of digital twins for water supply networks which we envisage will offer huge benefits in all stages of the life cycle of the water mains including their operation, water loss management, asset management, etc.


Can you share advice for young professionals hoping to start their career in the water sector?

In a time of unprecedented technological advancement, it is particularly crucial for young professionals who wish to develop their career in the water sector to keep abreast of and embrace the adoption of technologies in their work. In addition, they should have a global vision of the latest developments and challenges in the water sector worldwide by making good use of the support networks such as the Rising Smart Water Professionals established by SWAN.