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Home > FAQs on Beach Water Quality
 

FAQs on Beach Water Quality

Q : What are the differences between gazetted and non-gazetted beaches ?
A : Gazetted beaches are beaches which have been announced in the Government Gazette as bathing beaches and are managed by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). Non-gazetted beaches are those which have not been announced as bathing beaches. At present, the LCSD provides services and beach facilities only at gazetted beaches (except closed gazetted beaches). These include lifeguard and first-aid services, the collection of refuse within the beach area, the provision and maintenance of barbecue sites, toilets, showers and changing rooms, etc. Such services and facilities are not provided at any non-gazetted beaches by government departments
Q : Which department decides on the opening and closing of beaches? What role does EPD play in making such decision?
A : TheLeisure and Cultural Services Department is responsible for determining the opening and closing of gazetted beaches. The decision is made with reference to the advice provided by EPD on the suitability of beach water quality for bathing purposes and the consideration of all other factors. Generally, a beach will be closed if it is ranked "Very Poor" repeatedly.
Q : What is the difference between the rank and grade of a beach ?
A : The beach rank is determined by calculating the geometric mean of the E. coli counts of all the samples collected during the bathing season of the year. It indicates the annual beach water quality status and provides the information on the long term water quality trend of a beach. In contrast, the beach grade is determined on the basis of the geometric mean of the E. coli counts in the five most recent sampling occasions. It indicates the updated beach water quality status and provides information on the recent water quality trend of a beach.
Q : How did we establish the Water Quality Objective for bathing water in Hong Kong ?
A : The current Water Quality Objective (WQO) for bathing water in Hong Kong was established on the basis of the results of several epidemiology studies carried out in collaboration with the local academics in the late 1980s. These epidemiology studies had been designed and conducted according to the guidelines and recommendations of the World Health Organisation. The WQO of Hong Kong was set at a geometric mean E. coli level of 180 per 100mL. This level was the threshold found in the local studies above which a significantly higher rate of swimming-associated illness symptom was observed.
Q : What are faecal indicators ?
A : Faecal indicators are groups of microorganisms used to indicate the extent of faecal pollution. The presence of a large quantity of faecal indicators usually suggests the possible presence of some disease-causing microorganisms.
The commonly used and internationally accepted indicator bacterium in water pollution monitoring is Escherichia coli (E. coli). E. coli is present in large number inside the gastrointestinal tracts of all warm-blooded animals including humans, and in their excreta. Thus, the level of E. coli can reflect to what extent a body of water is polluted by faecal matter.



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