Safe food, clean water and clean air are basic needs that are fundamental to our health. However, in Hong Kong these fundamental necessities have been taken for granted for too long, while the threats to them have multiplied. Do we know how safe they are?

In most cases the quality of the water supplied by the Hong Kong government’s Water Supply Department is safe to drink even if it tastes terrible. But once the water reaches residential buildings the water is pumped to the roof and stored in water tanks maintained by the building management committee. Staffed by the building owners, many of whom are absentee landlords, the committees are often reluctant to spend any money on maintenance – preferring to react to circumstances or to be compelled by government notice.

This leads to poor water supply pipes, rusty water, low pressure and in some cases appalling and unsafe water quality.

No matter how new your building is it is important that regular checks are made of the tanks and supply pipes to every home. But the only way to secure your personal water supply is to control it yourself.

Many people do this by buying bottled water from the supermarket, or boiling tap water and cooling it in the fridge. But how safe is this really, and how environmentally friendly?