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Mar Pollut Bull. 2011 Nov;62(11):2275-87. doi: 10.1016/j.marpolbul.2011.07.020. Epub 2011 Aug 25.

Environmental response to sewage treatment strategies: Hong Kong's experience in long term water quality monitoring.

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  • 1Division of Environment, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, Hong Kong, China.


In many coastal cities around the world, marine outfalls are used for disposal of partially treated wastewater effluent. The combined use of land-based treatment and marine discharge can be a cost-effective and environmentally acceptable sewage strategy. Before 2001, screened sewage was discharged into Victoria Harbour through many small outfalls. After 2001, the Hong Kong Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS) was implemented to improve the water quality in Victoria Harbour and surrounding waters. Stage I of HATS involved the construction of a 24 km long deep tunnel sewerage system to collect sewage from the densely populated urban areas of Hong Kong to a centralized sewage treatment plant at Stonecutters Island. A sewage flow of 1.4 million m3 d(-1) receives Chemically Enhanced Primary Treatment (CEPT) followed by discharge via a 1.2 km long outfall 2 km west of the harbor. The ecosystem recovery in Victoria Harbour and the environmental response to sewage abatement after the implementation of HATS was studied using a 21-year data set from long term monthly water quality monitoring. Overall, the pollution control scheme has achieved the intended objectives. The sewage abatement has resulted in improved water quality in terms of a significant reduction in nutrients and an increase in bottom DO levels. Furthermore, due to the efficient tidal mixing and flushing, the impact of the HATS discharge on water quality in the vicinity of the outfall location is relatively limited. However, Chl a concentrations have not been reduced in Victoria Harbour where algal growth is limited by hydrodynamic mixing and water clarity rather than nutrient concentrations. Phosphorus removal in the summer is suggested to reduce the risk of algal blooms in the more weakly-flushed and stratified southern waters, while nutrient removal is less important in other seasons due to the pronounced role played by hydrodynamic mixing. The need for disinfection of the effluent to reduce bacterial (E. coli) concentrations to acceptable levels is also confirmed and has recently been implemented.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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