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29 November, 2001

Government efforts to improve the water quality in Victoria Harbour took an important step forward today (November 29) with the signing of an agreement for a two-year intensive study that will point the way toward combating Hong Kong's marine pollution.

The study will investigate the environmental and engineering feasibility of four different options, put forward by an international panel of experts in November last year, for collecting and treating sewage generated in the harbour area.

At the conclusion of the study period, a consolidated report will be produced on the pros and cons of each option and its feasibility. The Government will then conduct a public consultation before selecting the most suitable method to adopt.

Speaking after the contract signing, between the Environmental Protection Department and consultant Camp Dresser & McKee International Inc., the Acting Director of Environmental Protection, Mr Mike Stokoe, said the study would be completed within 24 months and form a significant part of the Government's overall strategy to protect and restore Hong Kong's marine environment, "particularly for the harbour, which is a unique natural asset."

Mr Stokoe said that in view of the huge investment that the Government was making to improve water quality in the harbour, it was vital that a programme of comprehensive testing was carried out now to determine the preferred way forward.

"As the public will be consulted on the way forward, the Government is committed to ensuring there is greater awareness of what is being done and the progress being made.

"Issues such as the location of sewage treatment facilities, the effects of sewage pollution on marine waters, new technologies now available and the levels of treatment being considered are important matters for the community," Mr Stokoe said.

He added that as information on these subjects was often very technical in nature, progress would be reported in a user-friendly way under the title "Harbour Water Watch". The "Harbour Water Watch" will carry a distinctive logo making it easy to identify.

Progress on the study will be observed by the Harbour Area Treatment Scheme Monitoring Group chaired by the Secretary for the Environment and Food, Mrs Lily Yam.

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