Change of groundwater chemistry from 1896 to present in the Mid-Levels area, Hong Kong
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- Leung, C. & Jiao, J.J. Environ Geol (2006) 49: 946. doi:10.1007/s00254-005-0133-9
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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.