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Current Progress of Follow-up Work on Various Recommendations of Commission of Inquiry into Excess L

The current progress of follow-up work on various recommendations of the Commission of Inquiry into Excess Lead Found in Drinking Water (CoI) by the Development Bureau (DEVB) and the Water Supplies Department (WSD) is as follows:

Establishment of International Expert Panel on Drinking Water Safety

With the support of the CoI, DEVB established an International Expert Panel on Drinking Water Safety (IEP) on 1 June 2016, comprising members from Australia, Canada, United Kingdom and local experts, to provide expert advice on matters relating to drinking water safety.

Review of existing Legislative Framework and Regulatory Regime and Setting up of an Independent Body to overlook the performance of WSD and water quality in Hong Kong generally

In response to the recommendations of the CoI that the Government should, at the policy level, review the adequacy of the existing legislative framework and regulatory regime in safeguarding the safety and quality of drinking water in Hong Kong, and set up an independent body to overlook the performance of WSD and water quality in Hong Kong generally, DEVB established an inter-bureau and inter-departmental working group in March 2016 and engaged a consultant to study the water safety regimes of leading jurisdictions. So far, we have gathered preliminary information regarding the water safety regimes of leading overseas jurisdictions and we will actively explore the formulation of the water safety regulatory regime, including in-depth study on the necessity of legislation for drinking water safety and the development of a regulatory framework.

Formulation of Drinking Water Standards and Sampling Protocols for Water Quality Monitoring for Hong Kong

In regard to the recommendations on the formulation of drinking water standards and sampling protocols for water quality monitoring for Hong Kong, WSD has engaged an expert consultant from the United Kingdom to conduct a holistic review and study, and has consulted the IEP in this regard, including the study in stages of the drinking water quality parameters recommended by the World Health Organization, and the reviews on the purposes and limitations of the various sampling protocols and their applicability to Hong Kong’s situation. Having regard to the study findings and proposals, DEVB and WSD are deliberating with relevant bureaux/departments and the trades, including relevant professional bodies, plumbing trade associations and licensed plumbers, on the implementation details with a view to finalizing the proposals as soon as possible.

Establishment and Implementation of Water Safety Plan for Hong Kong in general and Water Safety Plans specifically for other developments

The CoI recommends that WSD should establish and implement a Water Safety Plan (WSP) for Hong Kong in general, and WSPs specifically for other developments in Hong Kong. In response to the recommendations and with reference to the advice of an Australian expert consultant, WSD has initiated a holistic review of the existing WSP for WSD. With assistance of the Australian expert consultant, WSD has completed the review and integrated the enhanced WSP into the Drinking Water Quality Management System established in July 2017. WSD has also planned to promulgate in stages the guidelines and templates for developing WSP for general buildings as well as specific buildings, and will provide support to property owners and management agents in facilitating the development and implementation of the respective WSP for buildings. Pilot schemes are being carried out in several development projects.

Setting out Latest Approved Pipes and Fittings and their Standards

The CoI recommends that WSD should set out clearly, in the legislation or appropriate medium, the latest approved pipes and fittings as well as the latest standards for all plumbing materials and components to be used in the construction of inside service. As a matter of fact, WSD has uploaded to WSD’s website the approved pipes and fittings and the latest applicable standards for plumbing materials and components for the construction of inside service in October 2015. The industry has also been informed via WSD circular letters. Besides, WSD has updated the standards of the plumbing materials in the Waterworks Regulations (Cap. 102A) and the proposed amendments have been submitted to Legislative Council for negative vetting. The legislative process has been completed and the relevant amendments have been effective from 14 July 2017.

Defining the Roles, Involvements and Responsibilities of Relevant Parties Involved in the Design, Construction and Maintenance of Inside Service via Legislative Review

The CoI recommends that WSD should define the duties of licensed plumbers under the Waterworks Ordinance (Cap. 102), taking into account relevant provisions of the Construction Workers Registration Ordinance (Cap. 583) which allow skilled workers to perform plumbing installations. In this regard, WSD has completed the relevant amendment bill, including setting out clearly the persons designated for carrying out plumbing works (including skilled workers) and their responsibilities. The amendment bill was submitted in April 2017 and is now being considered by the Legislative Council.

The CoI also recommends that WSD should define the roles, involvements and responsibilities of other parties, who are in practice involved in the design, construction and maintenance of inside service; review the existing arrangement where an individual licensed plumber can be responsible for plumbing installations of any scale at any given time; and consider the need and feasibility to include other professionals and specialised contractors in the design and construction of inside service. For this, WSD has set forth on a holistic review of the Waterworks Ordinance and Waterworks Regulations in regard to, inter alia, the roles, involvements and responsibilities of relevant parties responsible for the design and construction of the fire services and inside services (plumbing systems), and the licensing/registration regime for parties (including contractors and waterworks professionals) responsible for the construction, etc. of plumbing systems. WSD is consulting relevant stakeholders in regard to the above matters. Prior to the completion of legislative review and amendment, WSD and Construction Industry Council jointly issued the “Good Practice Guide on Plumbing Works” in March 2017, clarifying the roles and responsibilities of relevant stakeholders in plumbing works. In regard to the surveillance and inspection of inside services, WSD has launched a pilot scheme of risk-based random inspection of plumbing works during construction stage of new plumbing installations with effect from 1 April 2017. The risk factors to be considered include the scale and nature of the projects, as well as the workload, past performance, experience and Continuing Professional Development credits of the licensed plumbers engaged, etc.. For details, please visit Enhancement of Control of Inside Services’ Construction and Installation in this website.

Strengthening the Management and Training of Licensed Plumbers

In regard to the recommendations of the CoI on strengthening the management and training of licensed plumbers, the training courses provided by the Vocational Training Council and the Construction Industry Council for licensed plumbers and plumbing workers have covered the potential causes and hazards of drinking water contaminations and the associated precautionary measures since September 2016, so as to enhance their awareness on drinking water safety. WSD also launched the Voluntary Continuing Professional Development Scheme for licensed plumbers in October 2016 jointly with the plumbing industry stakeholders.