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Wednesday, November 23, 2016, 16:50

Slow progress on lead-tainted pipe replacement

Slow progress on lead-tainted pipe replacement
This photo, published on Aug 8, 2015, shows residents collect water from a temporary public tap in Kai Ching Estate, which was installed after tap water there was found contaminated with lead. (Roy Liu / China Daily)

HONG KONG – Remedy works to replace the lead-tainted water pipes inside 11 public housing estates are in slow progress, an audit report revealed Wednesday.

The Audit Commission reported that work to replace water pipes which proved the source of lead-contamination in the water supply at the estates is not half completed. In some cases the work is only just getting started.

Work progress ranges from only 18.5 percent to 45.6 percent, according to the Audit Report

Work progress ranges from only 18.5 percent to 45.6 percent, the Audit Report added.

Residents living in the 11 public housing estates still need to have filters installed in their taps or to buy bottled water for drinking.

The work to rectify problems inside affected residential units will not begin until the work in the public areas of the estates is complete.

The audit report also revealed that 2,138, or 7.8 percent of households, are still living in housing without water filtration, exposing occupants to the dangers of lead in the water supply.

The report, also revealed discrepancies between the numbers of water samples reported taken by the Housing Authority (HA) from the 11 public housing estates and the numbers reported by the authority to the Legislative Council.

The HA, in reply to a query from the Audit Commission, confirmed that it has missed two water samples with excessive lead taken from Kai Ching Estate, the first public housing estate where lead-contaminated water was discovered.

The authority said the number of water samples found to have excessive lead from the 11 housing estates was 93, not 91 percent, as reported to LegCo.

The Housing Authority, excluded water testing for tenants at Tenants Purchase Scheme (TPS) estates when the lead-water issue surfaced.

The Audit Commission found that there were 54,493 public rental housing flats in the 39 purchase scheme (TPS) estates under the authority’s management and ownership.

READ MORE: Lead-tainted water detected in more housing estates

The authority, countered, in its defense, there were “practical and technical difficulties” for water sampling tests at those estates owing to the mixed ownership on those estates.

"While the mixed ownership in TPS estates might complicate the conducting of water sampling tests for pipe connections in common areas, there was no evidence that the Housing Department had made any effort to liaise with the Owners’ Corporations concerned to sort out the issue,” the report revealed.

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