Portfolio of Kimberly Johans

A collection of articles created during my stint as a journalist at The Macau Daily Times

Task force to address Macau’s salinity problem

Posted by Kimberly on September 13, 2007

By Kimberly Johans
Published in The Macau Daily Times
September 13, 2007, page 4 (523 words)

Macau’s salinity task force resumed operation yesterday to address potential problems that may occur this winter, said Ms Susana Wong, Director of the Maritime Administration.
Speaking at the meeting she added that with Macau heading into its “shallow season” between October this year and March next year, the group had rejoined for a preparatory session.
“The river has a full and shallow season so we took a break during the full season because there’s no salinity problem between March and September,” she said.
“The reason [for the task force] is that we have been contacting the continental governmental body, the Pearl River Water Resources Commission,” she said, the organisation that has been observing and co-ordinating all water issues in the Pearl River Delta.
“They are organising some kind of transfer of fresh water from upriver to downstream by central coordination,” she added.
The transfer in question is the Penggang Project which was constructed last year, significantly helping to improve the salinity problem, one that Macau suffered severely from in the winter of 2005/2006.
According to information provided within Macao Water’s annual report, the winter of 2006/2007 was the first in the past few years where Macau did not experience salinity, largely due to the project.
As part of its construction, a new raw water intake was moved 20 kilometres upstream to access better quality raw water.
It is expected the same procedures will be followed this year, said Ms Wong, who added that a governmental working group will be formed, made up of several governmental bodies including Macao Water.
“We are working on a contingency plan,” she said, so that if the salinity does become an issue, options will be available to be exercised.
An added point of discussion during the task force meeting was creating a means of promoting water saving techniques to all residents, something that is “a long term activity that can save water and can release a little stress on our water supply,” said Ms Wong.
While there already exists a working group to deal with this aspect, the salinity task force will cooperate with the group to “stress to the public the importance of saving water, and make them aware that it’s not so easy [to obtain water] as they think,” she said.
“We haven’t decided yet which methods we will use but I think a large campaign will be organised during these next months,” she added.
With the government having initiated such a project last year, Ms Wong stressed that it was something that needed to be continued this year, “in order to make it work.”
Macao had experienced increased salinity levels in its water supply during its dry winters.
The salinity levels within the World Health Organisation’s standard are at 200mg per litre but during 2006, Macau suffered its worst case of this where levels rose at one stage to 600mg per litre.
Salinity can occur when there is a decrease in volume and water level of rivers and sea levels may be higher, causing seawater to flow backwards into the rivers. As a result of the mix, the salt concentration of river water drastically increases.

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