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The Hong Kong Water Environment

Environmental sustainability is critical to the social and economic development of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in the coming decade. All indications suggest that our "World City" will become a Mega City of some eight million population, a tourist attraction for the hinterland, the region and beyond, and an increasingly knowledge-based service economy. The water management, social well-being and international image of our city can benefit greatly from an innovative internet and GIS-based environmental knowledge base.

The HKSAR has a total land area of around 1,100 square kilometers (km2) and a total coastal water area of around 1,800 km2. The coastal marine waters of Hong Kong are heavily used for a number of activities that support the economy and well-being of Hong Kong: navigation, recreation, fisheries, waste disposal, industrial water supply, dredging for fill material, and environmental conservation and scientific work. At present, the management of the precious and intensively utilized coastal waters is based on past data derived from a comprehensive water quality-monitoring network (of 56 stations) that was established some 20 years ago. The water quality is sampled once monthly/bimonthly at these stations to detect trends in water quality and provide management data.


We propose to develop an innovative environmental knowledge base, named WATERMAN, for all of Hong Kong's waters. There are four major components: (1) Beach water quality forecast system; (2) Fisheries management system; (3) 3D Environmental Impact Assessment system; and (4) Educational platform. The system aims at providing: (i) daily beach water quality forecasts and advisories; (ii) on-line water quality and flow information for key coastal sites; (iii) data on carrying capacity and flushing rate of fish culture zones; (iv) short-term prognosis for red tide outbreaks and water pollution disasters; (v) virtual reality water quality assessment for environmental impact assessment, monitoring and audit of infrastructure projects such as wastewater treatment and desalination plants.



The environmental management of Hong Kong can benefit greatly from our new internet and GIS-based water quality forecast, management and 3D visualization system. The proposed system will be developed with an integrated IT platform that allows relevant water quality data to be communicated to the public over the internet: e.g. daily beach water quality forecasts, information for fisheries management, pollution disaster response. It will also enable 3D water quality assessment for public engagement in a number of commonly encountered settings. The overall objective is to provide the general public with the means to better understand the quality of water around them and to allow them to engage in a meaningful discussion of events that may impact the water environment (natural or man-made e.g. rainstorms). The system will enhance public awareness of water-environment; it will also facilitate the sustainable development of Hong Kong. The beneficiaries are expected to include government decision makers (EPD, DSD, AFCD, LCSD), engineers and consultants who are involved in infrastructure projects, fishermen, and the general public who has a right to be informed about our marine environment for enjoyment and conservation.

This project is a joint venture of the Croucher Laboratory of Environmental Hydraulics and the Department of Computer Science of the University of Hong Kong. WATERMAN is an offspring of two decades of competitive externally-funded cutting-edge research (RGC/Croucher/ITF/UGC) carried out by the Principal Investigators on environmental hydraulics and visualization technology.

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