Jump to the beginning of content

Milestones and Waterworks Monuments

1851(Image)
1851 - First Wells Dug for Public Water Supply

In 1851, the Government set aside in its budget for sinking wells to provide water to the public for free. In the period before 1860, the Government also constructed small ponds at the upper parts of main streams to store water for public use.

1863(Image)
1863 – First Impounding Reservoir in Hong Kong

In 1863, Hong Kong’s first impounding reservoir - Pok Fu Lam Reservoir with a capacity of 2 million gallons (about 9 100 m3) was commissioned and started to supply water. The extension of reservoir completed in 1877 boosted the overall capacity to 68 million gallons (about 310 000 m3). The Pok Fu Lam Reservoir is still making contribution to Hong Kong’s water supply.

1883(Image)
1883 - Launch of Tai Tam Valley Scheme

The Pok Fu Lam Reservoir was too small in capacity to cater for the needs of Hong Kong’s increasing population. The Government embarked upon the construction of the Tai Tam Reservoir under the Tai Tam Valley Scheme. Tai Tam Group of Reservoirs took some 35 years to complete – from commencement of construction of the Tai Tam Upper Reservoir in 1883 until the opening of Tai Tam Tuk Reservoir in 1918.

Today, the entire Tai Tam scheme of reservoirs and dams remain an important link in the city’s supply of fresh water. They also stand as testaments to the innovative engineering that underpinned much of Hong Kong’s urban, social and economic development throughout the 20th century.

1890(Image)
1890 - First Water Treatment Works in Hong Kong

The Tai Tam Valley Scheme included the building of the first water treatment works in Hong Kong at Albany Valley (today’s upper reach of Cotton Tree Drive). The treatment works made use of the slow sand filter beds to treat the raw water conveyed from Tai Tam reservoir with an output of 5.7 million gallons (about 26 000 m3) per day.

1906(Image)
1906 - First Impounding Reservoir in Kowloon

The construction of the Kowloon Reservoir changed the way in which water was supplied to the Kowloon Peninsula. Rainwater stored in the reservoir replaced well water and subterranean water pumped out by the Yau Ma Tei Pumping Station. The reservoir system was expanded several times. The final system now known as the Kowloon group of reservoirs consists of four reservoirs with a total capacity of 2 873 000 m3.

1930(Image)
1930 - First Cross-Harbour Pipeline

The first cross-harbour submarine pipeline was completed in 1930 to relieve water shortages on Hong Kong Island. In those days, laying of nearly 6 000 ft (1 830 m) length of pipeline with a diameter of 12 inches (300 mm) along the seabed was an engineering challenge but the work was completed within an amazing 57 days.

1957(Image)
1957 - Salt Water Flushing System Introduced in Kowloon

In 1957, in order to save fresh water, the Water Authority suggested to install sea water flushing systems in the newly developed areas of Kowloon, such as Shek Kip Mei and Li Cheng Uk (resettlement areas which had a high population density). This scheme was proved to be successful and was extended to other parts of Hong Kong.

Seawater is a sustainable water resource and continues to play an important role in Hong Kong’s water management. Nowadays, the seawater supply coverage has been expanded to 85% of Hong Kong’s population.

1960(Image)
1960 - Transfer of Water from Guangdong

As early as in 1960, the Hong Kong Government was well aware that the increasing fresh water demand in Hong Kong could no longer be satisfied by rainfall solely, and the procurement of fresh water from Guangdong Province was the most efficient way for fulfilling the unmet water needs. In November 1960, the Governments of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong reached an agreement on importing 22.7 million cubic metres per year of raw water from the Shenzhen Reservoir to Hong Kong every year.

In 1963, the Governments of Guangdong Province and Hong Kong held several rounds of discussions and reached a consensus on the implementation of the Dongjiang-Shenzhen Water Supply Scheme. The Scheme was approved by Prime Minister Zhou Enlai and granted a special fund by the Central People’s Government for its construction works at the end of the year. In 1965, the Dongshen water supply infrastructure was completed and Hong Kong began to receive water from Dongjiang.

1968(Image)
1968 - Hong Kong’s first reservoir in the sea

Owing to the lack of land available for building further sizeable reservoirs, in 1959 the Government began searching for a site to form a reservoir as a lake reclaimed from the sea. The authorities chose Plover Cove, near Tai Po, in Tolo Harbour, to construct a man-made lake – Plover Cove Reservoir. The sea water would be pumped out before the lake could be used to store fresh water.

Construction work started in 1961 and was completed in 1968 at a cost of $407,000,000. Fresh water coming from the Tai Mei Tuk Pumping Station of the Plover Cove Reservoir was transferred to the Sha Tin Water Treatment Works, where it was treated and then delivered through pipelines in the Lion Rock Tunnel to Kowloon and then also to Hong Kong Island.

1975(Image)
1975 - Lok On Pai Desalter

In 1973 the Government officially embarked on constructing the world’s largest desalination plant at the time – the Lok On Pai Desalter. In October 1975, the first unit of the Desalter was commissioned. Due to the oil crisis in the early 1980s, the price of producing 1 000 gallons of fresh water was expected to be $38 in 1981, which was some 8 times higher than that of 1974. Against such an escalated cost for desalination, the Government finally closed down the Desalter in 1982.

2000(Image)
2000 – Launch of Replacement and Rehabilitation Programme of Water Mains

Starting from 2000, the Water Supplies Department had implemented the Replacement and Rehabilitation Programme of Water Mains (the Programme) to replace or rehabilitate in stages some 3 000 kilometres of aged water mains in the territory, so as to rejuvenate the water supply network in a comprehensive and cost-effective manner. The Programme has been substantially completed at the end of 2015.

2008(Image)
2008 - Total Water Management

The Total Water Management Strategy (the Strategy) promulgated by the WSD in 2008 has mapped out the strategy for a balanced supply and demand of water to ensure water security and support sustainable development in Hong Kong. The Strategy puts an emphasis on containing the growth of water demand through promoting water conservation and strengthening water supply management.

2009(Image)
2009 - Declaration of Waterworks Structures as Monuments

41 waterworks structures in Hong Kong were declared historic monuments. They have been integral to the development of Hong Kong over the past 160 years.

2011(Image)
2011 - Expansion of Tai Po Water Treatment Works - Part I works completed

The expansion of Tai Po Water Treatment Works (WTW) project represents WSD’s vision to enhance the reliability and flexibility of the water supply and distribution system. The Phase One expansion works was completed in 2011 and has boosted the output capacity of the Tai Po Water Treatment Works to 400,000 cubic metres of water per day. The Phase Two expansion works has commenced in 2013 and will increase its capacity to 800,000 cubic metres per day by 2018.

2013(Image)
2013 – Tuen Mun Hydropower System

The hydropower plant at Tuen Mun Water Treatment Works is an important RE project for the Water Supplies Department and it is the first of its kind in Hong Kong. Designed and implemented by the Water Supplies Department, this innovative and environmental-friendly renewable energy project is a pioneer in the world to construct 500kW hydropower facilities at a water treatment works.

The hydropower project in Tuen Mun is carried out in two phases. The first phase of the works has been completed successfully in May 2013 with the first generator being put into operation, while the second phase of work has also been completed in early 2017. We estimated that the hydropower plant will help the WTW save about 3 million kWh of electricity annually in addition to reduce about 2000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year from burning fossil fuels by the power company. It also enhances the stability and reliability of the operational facilities of the water treatment works.

2015(Image)
2015 – 50th Anniversary of Dongjiang Water Supply to Hong Kong

In 1965, the Dongshen water supply infrastructure was completed and Hong Kong began to receive water from Dongjiang to resolve the problem of Hong Kong's inadequate water resources. Since then, Dongjiang water has supplied 70 to 80 per cent of Hong Kong's total fresh water requirements annually. Year 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the Dongjiang water supply to Hong Kong. The Governments of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and Guangdong Province launched a commemoration ceremony .

2017(Image)
2017 – Pilot Floating Photovoltaic (PV) Systems

At present, there are 17 impounding reservoirs in Hong Kong, but not all of them would be feasible to install FPV over their water surface. Apart from technical requirements, we have to take into account the ecological and environmental as well as landscape impacts since most of these reservoirs are located in the protected scenic areas of the country parks. In order to explore the potential of installing FPV systems on reservoirs, we started off by implementing two small-scale pilot projects at Shek Pik Reservoir and Plover Cove Reservoir, each of which will be designed for a generation capacity of 100kW. The first pilot system has been successfully installed at Shek Pik Reservoir in February 2017. The system can generate as much as 120,000 units (kilowatt-hours) of electricity annually, supplying electricity to the nearby pumping station of the reservoir. The amount of electricity generated is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of 36 average households with a reduction of 84 tonnes of CO2 emission.

The second pilot at Plover Cove Reservoir is scheduled to be completed by end-2017. These two pilot projects will lay a solid foundation with some useful reference data for the future implementation of large-scale FPV farms on reservoirs in Hong Kong.

Year Events
1851 Five wells sunk for City water supply.
1860 Tanks constructed at Bonham Road.
1863 Pok Fu Lam reservoir with a capacity of 9,000 cubic metres and aqueduct completed.
1871 Second Pok Fu Lam reservoir with a capacity of 26l,000 cubic metres completed.
1874 Mint dam and Blue Pool dam re-constructed.
1877 Conduit constructed to convey water from Pok Fu Lam reservoir to City.
1889 Original Tai Tam scheme for City waterworks completed.
1890 First filter-beds constructed at Albany.
1891 The Peak supplied by City waterworks by pumping.
1892 City waterworks distribution completed.
1895 - Total capacity of storage reservoirs increased to 1.74 million cubic metres.
- Kowloon waterworks to supply 1,136 cubic metres per day opened.
1897 Tai Tam dam raised to bring the total storage capacity to 2.17 million cubic metres.
1899 Wong Nai Chung reservoir completed. Total storage capacity increased to 2.32 million cubic metres.
1902 Water shortage in the spring. Water brought in by lighters from Tsuen Wan to the Hong Kong Island. Kowloon Waterworks started.
1904 Tai Tam Byewash reservoir increased City storage capacity to 2.44 million cubic metres.
1906 Kowloon reservoir brought into use.
1925 Shek Lei Pui reservoir completed.
1930 Water first delivered from Kowloon to the Hong Kong Island by a 300-millimetre diameter submarine pipeline under the harbour.
1931 Kowloon Byewash reservoir completed.
1936 Shing Mun Valley (Jubilee) reservoir completed.
1939 With the exception of the Shouson Hill area all water on the Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon urban area filtered.
1946 Water supply re-established almost to the pre-war standard.
1957 Tai Lam Chung reservoir completed.
1960 - Work started on Plover Cove reservoir, the first fresh water reservoir in the world to be carved out of the sea.
- First Agreement reached with Guangdong authorities for supplies from Guangdong.
1963 Shek Pik reservoir on Lantau Island completed.
1964 Sha Tin water treatment works Stage I with a capacity of 364,000 cubic metres per day commissioned.
1965 Second Agreement reached with Guangdong authorities for incremental supplies from Guangdong.
1968 Plover Cove reservoir with a capacity of 170 million cubic metres completed.
1971 The government decided to embark on the High Island Scheme.
1973 Dam raising for Plover Cove reservoir completed, bringing the capacity to 230 million cubic metres. Hong Kong's storage capacity trebled.
1975 The first of the six 30,300 cubic metre-a-day units of the Lok On Pai Desalter came into operation.
1978 - High Island reservoir, with a storage capacity of 281 million cubic metres, completed.
- Third Agreement reached with Guangdong authorities for further incremental supplies from Guangdong.
1980 Amendment to Third Agreement reached with Guangdong authorities for further incremental supplies from Guangdong up to 620 million cubic metres per annum by 1994/95.
1982 Shut down and moth-balling of Lok On Pai Desalting Plant.
1983 - First glass reinforced plastic water main completed, having a diameter of 2.2 metres and a length of 3.5 kilometres for conveyance oF water from Guangdong.
- Sha Tin water treatment works last stage completed, bringing the total capacity to 1.23 million cubic metres per day, the largest water treatment works in Hong Kong.
1985 Yau Kom Tau water treatment works stage I completed, the first water treatment works using modern direct filtration technology with a daily throughout of 160,000 cubic metres.
1986 Sheung Shui water treatment works stage I with a capacity of 100,000 cubic metres per day commissioned.
1987 - Fourth Agreement reached with Guangdong authorities for further incremental supplies from Guangdong up to 660 million cubic metres per annum.
- Implementation of Regionalization for the Supply, Distribution and Consumer Services activities.
1989 - Fifth Agreement reached with Guangdong authorities for further incremental supplies from Guangdong up to a maximum quantity of 1,100 million cubic metres per annum.
- Pak Kong water treatment works stage I with a capacity of 273,000 cubic metres per day commissioned.
1990 All mechanical and electrical workshop facilities were centralized in the Mechanical and Electrical Workshop at Lung Cheung Road and Bullock Lane Depot was handed to Urban Council for recreational development.
1991 Lok On Pai Desalting plant demolished.
1992 - Pak Kong water treatment works stage II completed, bringing the total capacity to 800,000 cubic metres per day, the second largest water treatment works in Hong Kong.
- Au Tau water treatment works stage I with a capacity of 110,000 cubic metres commissioned.
1994 Muk Wu 'C' pumping station commissioned, the largest pumping station in Hong Kong.
1995 - Yau Kom Tau water treatment works stage II completed, increasing the capacity to 250,000 cubic metres per day.
- Sham Tseng water treatment works stage I completed, the first water treatment works using Dissolved Air Flotation method for water clarification.
- Tai Po Tau 'D' pumping station commissioned.
- Au Tau water treatment works stage II completed, bringing the total capacity to 330,000 cubic metres per day.
1996 - Sheung Shui water treatment works stage II completed, bring the total capacity to 200,000 cubic metres per day.
- Siu Ho Wan water treatment works stage I with a daily capacity of 150,000 cubic metres completed.
1997 Ma On Shan water treatment works with a daily capacity of 227,000 cubic metres completed.
2000 - Customer Telephone Enquiry Centre put in operation.
- Sham Tseng water treatment works stage II completed, increasing the daily capacity from 23,000 cubic metres to 36,500 cubic metres.
- Ngau Tam Mei water treatment works stage I completed, the first water treatment works using ozone and biological filters with a daily capacity of 230,000 cubic metres.
2003 - Tai Po water treatment works stage I with a daily capacity of 250,000 cubic metres completed.
- The dedicated aqueduct system under the "Dongshen Water Supply Improvement Works" projects completed.
2004 Pilot desalination plant at Tuen Mun Salt Water Pumping Station with a Reverse Osmosis (RO) production of water at 240 cubic metres per day commissioned for trial run.
2006 - A new agreement reached with Guangdong authorities for the first-time implementation of a flexible arrangement for Dongjiang water supply based on the actual needs of Hong Kong.
- The pilot desalination plant was relocated from Tuen Mun to Ap Lei Chau for further trial test under different sea water environment.
2008 A new agreement for the supply of Dongjiang water to Hong Kong was signed. The agreement guaranteed a stable yet flexible supply of Dongjiang water for the period from 2009 to 2011 based on the actual needs of Hong Kong.
2009 - 41 Historic waterworks installations at Pok Fu Lam, Tai Tam, Wong Nai Chung, Kowloon, Shing Mun and Aberdeen were declared monuments.
- The first two service reservoirs built in a cavern - Western Salt Water Service Reservoir and Western No.2 Salt Water Service Reservoir were commissioned.
2011 - A new agreement for the supply of Dongjiang water to Hong Kong was signed. The agreement guaranteed a stable yet flexible supply of Dongjiang water upto 2014 based on Hong Kong’s actual needs.
- Expansion of Tai Po Water Treatments Works - Part I works completed, bringing the daily capacity of the plant increased from 250 Mld to 400 Mld.
2013 The first generator of Tuen Mun Hydropower Plant was put into operation.
2015 A new agreement for the supply of Dongjiang water to Hong Kong was signed. The agreement guaranteed a stable yet flexible supply of Dongjiang water upto 2017 based on Hong Kong's actual needs.
2017 Pilot Floating Photovoltaic (PV) Systems are being installed on reservoirs.

Commemorative Album: Stream of Memories

Commemorative Album: Stream of Memories

Introductory Video

Introductory Video
Download the List of 41 Waterworks Monuments

Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail (Information Pamphlet)

Tai Tam Waterworks Heritage Trail (Information Pamphlet)