Water supply in Hong Kong is provided by the Water Supplies Department (WSD). WSD is fully aware that the consumers consider it as a public utility and has therefore attached great importance to its customer services. Whilst WSD is committed to providing quality services, a wholesome quality supply also requires that the inside service is properly maintained.
A poorly maintained inside service system would result in deterioration of the water quality and may cause leakage leading to loss of precious water. In this respect, the consumer should be aware that he/she has a duty of care in respect of the inside service system serving his/her own flat. Likewise, the management office or the registered agent of a development has a statutory duty to provide proper maintenance to the communal part of the water supply system within the development. The division of maintenance responsibilities among the Water Authority, the consumer and his/ her agent under the Waterworks Ordinance is illustrated below:
The common problems in the internal plumbing system are unsatisfactory water quality, weak supply pressure and seepage or leakage of water. These three problems are usually due to corroded pipes, unclean storage tanks, choked pipes or unauthorised alterations of inside service respectively. In this respect, the consumer or his/her agent should conduct regular maintenance that not only helps ensure that the plumbing system performs as it is intended but also minimises the cost of repair works required to rectify the defects of the plumbing system.
Notwithstanding that the water supplied by WSD is safe to drink, the water quality could be affected in the internal plumbing systems due to various factors. Therefore, WSD has been encouraging the property owners and management agents to implement water safety plan for buildings (WSPB) in their buildings to ensure the safety of drinking water. For details, please visit Water Safety – Water Safety Plan for Buildings.
1. Turn off all the water taps in the premises tightly
2. Find out the serial number of the water meter on the water bill, go to the water meter room or meter position and record the digit at the far right of the display window of the meter. Check again after ten minutes and record the digit once more. Compare the two records to see if the digit of the meter rotates
3. If the digit does rotate, employ a licensed plumber to check and repair.
A consumer is required to pay water bills based on the quantities of water consumed and metered under his/her own account. Apart from bill payment, the consumer should take note of the water consumed during each 4-month billing cycle. Any noticeable changes in water consumption and charge should tally with the pattern of water usage under the account concerned. For instance, if the consumer and all his/her family members have taken an overseas trip for a long period, there should be a reduction in the water consumption accordingly. If the billed amount remains the same during the billing period concerned, there is a chance for water leakage. It will be in the intent of the consumer to arrange expeditious checking of his/her inside service.
|Common causes for increase in water charges||Corresponding solutions|
|Leaking pipes or taps||Carry out proper maintenance work|
|Being forgotten to turn off the water tap||Ensure closure of the tap or use self-closing water taps|
|Consumption falls into a higher charging tier of the progressive tariff structure||Adopt effective ways to save water|
|Illegal water connections||Disconnect the illegal pipes|
|Unlawful taking of potable water to use for flushing||Apply for flushing supply|
A consumer can submit his/her application for new water supply or replumbing work through writing or electronic services in WSD’s website. In the case of a new application for water supply, the consumer should provide the supply requirements with exact location indicated on a block plan to the Water Authority. When the Water Authority confirms that adequate water supply is available, the consumer should engage a Licensed Plumber (LP) and submit a plumbing proposal with details of pipes and fittings to be installed and obtain the Water Authority’s approval before starting the plumbing work.
In case the consumer is to move out of his/her premises, he/she should ensure timely closure of his/her own account or arrange a change of consumership to the newcomer. Many consumers did not apply for closure of accounts when they moved out of their premises. Without closing their water accounts, they remain to be the lawful consumers of the accounts concerned and therefore, by law, remain liable for payment of water charges in respect of their former premises although they have physically moved out and do not use the water concerned.
The water bill contains a lot of information regarding your water consumption. Please inspect your water bill. How does water consumption in your household?
It is the customer’s responsibility to facilitate effective and regular reading of meters by WSD’s meter reading staff. Some of the water meters are installed at locations that may not be easily accessible to WSD’s meter reading staff. There are standing procedures for following up unsuccessful reading of meter due to inaccessibility. WSD will inform the occupier that the coming water bill will be estimated based on past consumption records. The consumer should be alerted that high consumption caused by underground/concealed leakage might not be highlighted when actual readings are not taken. Therefore, to avoid high water charges in subsequent bills, the consumer should arrange available access for reading of meter as soon as possible.
The Water Authority ensures that water meters for measuring consumption register correctly as specified in the Waterworks Regulations. A meter will be replaced when it is damaged or its accuracy exceeds 3%. After a meter is replaced, the consumers usually experience slightly higher consumptions than the past because the old meter had already been used for a long time to give a reading smaller than actual or the filter of the old meter might be clogged up to weaken the water pressure. From the water conservation perspective, meter readings must be accurate enough to reflect the consumers’ actual water consumption so that their awareness on how to control the use of water could be enhanced to avoid high water charges.
The consumer can apply for a meter test by paying in advance a fee stipulated in the Waterworks Regulations if he/she has doubt about the accuracy of the water meter. If the inaccuracy of the meter is confirmed to exceed 3% above or below the correct amount, the test fee will be refunded and the water charges will be adjusted appropriately in accordance with the Waterworks Regulations. Otherwise, there will be no refund of test fee as well as no adjustment of water charges.
A Licensed Plumber (LP) is a person licensed under the Waterworks Ordinance to undertake various types of plumbing works connected with the supply of water to domestic, commercial and industrial buildings and other premises and apply permission from the Water Authority prior to the commencement of the works.
It is an offence for any person other than a designated person (see #Note) to carry out any plumbing works personally in a building or other premises. However, alterations or repairs to a fire service or inside service which are of a minor nature e.g. replacement of pipes or fittings within a domestic flat, shop or an office, may be personally carried out by a person other than a designated person.
If you require to carry out any plumbing works such as:
You must always employ a LP to avoid unsatisfactory plumbing works and delay, and to abide by the law. You may verify the name of a LP from the Licensed Plumber Directory on WSD’s website.
#Note: Designated person includes LP, registered plumbing worker and a person under the supervision of a LP or registered plumbing worker.