Environmental Geology

, Volume 49, Issue 7, pp 946–959

Change of groundwater chemistry from 1896 to present in the Mid-Levels area, Hong Kong

Original Article

Abstract

In this study, groundwater quality information collected in 1896 (well waters), 1980/1981 (piezometric and seepage samples) and 2002/2003 (seepage samples) in the regions centered by the Mid-Levels area, Hong Kong Island, was compared to illustrate how groundwater quality has changed over a century and the processes controlling it. As shown by saline ammonia and nitrate levels in the late nineteenth century, groundwater was severely polluted by widespread and obvious leakage from poorly designed wastewater collection systems, although groundwater was still a drinking water source for local residents. The extremely high residual chlorines in groundwater demonstrated that large doses of disinfection agents were added to wells at that time. In view of the decline in saline ammonia and nitrate levels, groundwater became less organically polluted in the 1980s probably due to significant improvement of the design of underground sewers. However, more leakage from sources such as salty flushing water and fresh water pipes emerged in the past few decades which added complexity to groundwater chemical systems. Some chemicals were used to identify possible locations of leakages. The temporal variations of the distribution of these chemicals over the area may shed light on the rate of leakage. Leakage from service pipes seems to have improved from the early 1980s to 2002/2003. However, the area is still suffering from widespread and small-scale leakage from service pipes. More efforts should be paid to control small leakages in the future. The findings will be instructive to various government organizations such as the Water Supplies Department and Drainage Services Department to identify possible locations of unobvious leakages in the area.

Keywords

Groundwater quality Pollution Leakage from service pipes Hong Kong 

References

  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (2002) Managing hazardous materials incidents, vol III—medical management guidelines for acute chemical exposures: calcium hypochlorite/sodium hypochlorite. US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, AtlantaGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen PM, Stephens EA (1971) Report on the Geological Survey of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Government Press, 116 pp plus 2 mapsGoogle Scholar
  3. Apambire WB, Boyle DR, Michel FA (1997) Geochemistry, genesis, and health implications of fluoriferous groundwaters in the upper regions of Ghana. Environ Geol 33:13–24CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Chu CH, Fung DSH, Lo ECM (1999) Dental caries status of preschool children in Hong Kong. Br Dent J 187(11):616–620CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. Environmental Protection Agency (1999) Wastewater technology fact sheet: chlorine disinfection. EPA 832-F-99-062 September 1999. Office of Water, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar
  6. Environmental Protection Department (1988–1994) River water quality in Hong Kong: results from the EPD river water quality monitoring programme. Water Policy Group, Environmental Protection Department, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  7. European Community (1988) Quality of water intended for human consumption regulations, 1988 (S.I. No. 81 of 1988), 12 ppGoogle Scholar
  8. Evans RW (1989) Change in dental fluorosis following an adjustment to the fluoride concentration of Hong Kong’s water supplies. Adv Dent Res 3:154–160PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. Geotechnical Control Office (1982) Mid-Levels study: report on geology, hydrology and soil properties. Geotechnical Control Office, Hong Kong Government, 265 ppGoogle Scholar
  10. Geotechnical Engineering Office (1999) Geological map of Hong Kong, Geotechnical Engineering Office, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  11. Ho PY (2001) Water for a Barren Rock—150 years of water supply in Hong Kong. Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 256 ppGoogle Scholar
  12. Jiao JJ, Leung CM, Ding GP (2003) Confined groundwater at No. 52, Hollywood Road, Hong Kong. In: Lee CF, Tham LG (eds) International conference on slope engineering, 8–10 December 2003, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  13. Jiao JJ, Wang XS, Nandy S (2004) Preliminary assessment of the impacts of deep foundations and land reclamation on groundwater flow in a coastal area in Hong Kong, China. Hydrogeol J, DOI 10.1007/s10040-004-0393-6Google Scholar
  14. Lam KC (1983) The chemical quality and use of well water in the New Territories. Occasional paper (Chinese University of Hong Kong, Department of Geography) no. 44, The Chinese University of Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  15. Leung CM (2004) Groundwater chemistry in the urban environment: a case study of the Mid-Levels area, Hong Kong. Unpublished MPhil Thesis, The University of Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  16. Leung CM, Jiao JJ, Malpas J, Chan WT, Wang YX (2005) Factors affecting the groundwater chemistry in a highly-urbanized coastal area in Hong Kong: an example from the Mid-Levels area. Environ Geol 48(4–5):480–495 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Report on the Census of the Colony for 1897, Hong Kong GovernmentGoogle Scholar
  18. Supplement to the Hong Kong Government Gazette, no. 37 of 14th August, 1897, Report of the Secretary, Sanitary Board, for 1896Google Scholar
  19. Water Supplies Department (2001) Handbook on plumbing installation for buildings. Water Supplies Department, Hong Kong Government, 85 ppGoogle Scholar
  20. Water Supplies Department (2002) Annual Report (2001–2002), Water Supplies Department, Hong Kong SAR GovernmentGoogle Scholar
  21. World Health Organization (1993) Guidelines for drinking water quality, vol 1. Recommendations, World Health Organization, 188 ppGoogle Scholar
  22. World Health Organization (1994) Fluorides and oral health: report of a WHO expert committee on oral health status and fluoride use. WHO Technical Report Series, No. 846, 37 ppGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Earth SciencesThe University of Hong KongHong KongChina

Personalised recommendations