Shing Mun River Channel



Shing Mun River Channel has become a landmark of Sha Tin. The public appreciates the open channel, with leisure and recreational facilities on the riverbanks, at the centre of Sha Tin town, and has certain expectations regarding the environment and uses of Shing Mun River Channel.

Due to the public concerns regarding water quality and landuse of Shing Mun River, the Working Group on Environment Protection under the Health and Environment Committee of Shatin District Council commissioned The Kadoorie Institute, the University of Hong Kong, to conduct research in 2008-09, to review planning for the riversides and the need for improving water quality of Shing Mun River. The researchers concluded that the public hope that Shing Mun River could become a place for leisure, recreational and tourist hotspots, which meant improving water quality improvement would be a priority. A clean river and riverbanks will allow the public to fully enjoy the beautiful environment.

Although the government and the public are mainly concerned about water quality and riverbank development, ecological aspects should not be neglected. Ecological restoration can contribute to the above proposals. Water quality is important for the ecosystem. Domestic and industrial wastewater that enters the river channel should be collected and handled by sewage treatment works. To reduce pollutants flowing into the waterway as surface runoff, vegetation cover should be planted on the riverbanks. This will act like a filter. Roads and garages that generate considerable pollution should be moved away from the channel. There should be abundant buffer zones between residential areas and the river; these buffer zones can be turned into leisure places for the public. These concepts are applied in the present planning for Shing Mun River.

The riverbanks of Shing Mun River are now inclined stone walls, built from bricks. If flood control capacity can be met, the gradients of the walls can be reduced, to create more gentle riverbanks. Natural rocks of various sizes can also be added, to increase the complexity of the environment, making it suitable for more aquatic species. In addition, pollutants and rubbish must be removed from the riverbed, to restore its natural condition and enable a revival of riverbed organisms.




Shing Mun River Channel


Rowing on Shing Mun River Channel


Buffer zone between the residential area and the river can be turned into a leisure place for the public.

Restoring Water Service Facilities


A healthy ecosystem is important to the water quality of a natural river. Therefore, creating a healthy reservoir ecosystem can help improve the water quality, and further safeguard our drinking water. The ecological function is complementary to the reservoir's water supply function. The number and health of aquatic organisms can also act as biological indicators in monitoring water quality.

Although a reservoir is built in a natural valley and is surrounded by woodland and natural streams, its ecological value is not high, because we lack the pioneer species that can adapt to deep freshwater habitat for succession in Hong Kong. Officials can investigate ways to improve hydrological conditions at specific locations, and introduce suitable aquatic plant species to enrich a reservoir's overall aquatic plant community.

Currently, the reservoir banks are mostly steep and smooth mud surfaces, without complicated micro-habitats for different species. If some locations, such as where streams enter the reservoir, can be modified into gentler banks and natural rocks of various sizes introduced, more complex micro-habitats are created. In addition, terrace-stepped banks can also be created, to provide micro-habitats of another type to attract more species (for example, frogs).

Catchwaters fragment the natural river habitats and disconnect the upper and lower courses. Catchwaters have gentle gradients, slow flows, and simpler structures than natural streams, making them unsuitable for survival of stream creatures. In fact, slight modification to a catchwater can make it closer to the structure of a natural stream. Allowing part of the stream to follow its natural path and maintain a base flow, while diverting the remaining flow and extra flow during rainstorms to the catchwater, can minimise damage to the river ecology.

 


Shing Mun Reservoir.

 


Kowloon Reservoir Catchwater

 
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