“As an engineer, one of the biggest challenges that we face in Hong Kong is the scarcity of land. Hong Kong is surrounded by sea on three sides and has a land border with Shenzhen to the north, not to mention how Hong Kong’s landscape is dominated by mountains. So to squeeze more space out of the limited land that we have, we have to think out of the box,” said Alan Man, Vice President, Black & Veatch Hong Kong Ltd, which specialises in building water supply and drainage systems in Hong Kong.
Man believes multi-use of land can ease land shortage problems in Hong Kong. One example is the innovative construction project of installing saltwater service reservoirs in a cavern built into the hill overlooking the University of Hong Kong’s Centennial Campus. The novel approach had never
been attempted in Hong Kong before. The design, which won an award in the Design Category of the 2010 International Water Association’s Project Innovation Awards for the East Asia region, saved a significant number of trees and an area of 6,000 square metres from destruction. Three graded historical buildings were also preserved, he added.
Aside from the cavern saltwater reservoirs, what is also unique is that new fresh water reservoirs are built under the campus, Man emphasised. “With the campus and the fresh water reservoirs being built on the same piece of land, we can basically double the use of our precious land,” he said.
He believes the concept of co-using land could be widely adopted in Hong Kong. “An underground shopping mall is a good example,” he continued. “New facilities can also be added on top of low-rise public utilities – or even rebuilt – to fully utilise the land.”
Reservoir in the sea
Black & Veatch Hong Kong Ltd, which was established 80 years ago, is best known for building the Plover Cove Reservoir, – the first “reservoir in the sea” in the world.
“In the 1960s, there was basically no land to build a reservoir for drinking water. We dammed the inlet, pumped out the sea water and filled it with fresh water. This massive construction project had never been attempted anywhere in the world before,” Man said.
The High Island Reservoir, located in the Sai Kung Country Park, is another reservoir that Black & Veatch built in the sea. As the largest reservoir in Hong Kong, the High Island Reservoir has a capacity of 280 million cubic metres.
The company has also designed other reservoirs in Hong Kong. “In 1930, our first engineering project in Hong Kong was to help the Government to build the Shing Mun Reservoir.After 1930, all the reservoirs in Hong Kong were designed by our company,” he said.
Drainage and other projects
About a decade ago, Black & Veatch designed and helpedthe Drainage Services Department deliver Hong Kong’s first major underground flood storage scheme – the Tai Hang Tung Stormwater Storage Scheme. In 2011, it commenced anotherstorm water drainage project underneath Happy Valley racecourse.“With our urban densities, we have to rethink how we can manage intense rainfall in crowded areas,” he said.
Meanwhile, Black & Veatch has helped replace and rehabilitate more than 1,000 kilometres of aging water mains since 2000. It has also been working with the Water Supplies Department (WSD) on continuous monitoring and pressure management assignments for 15 of the 17 major supply zones.
“The WSD, which distributes water to 7 million people through a network of 8,000 kilometres of water mains, is implementing various measures to cut water loss from 25% in 2001 to 15% by 2015. Replacing water mains and monitoring pressure can cut water leakages and lessen stress on pipes and fittings,” he said.
Among all its water infrastructure projects, Man is most proud of the Tai Po Water Treatment Works project, the expansion of which more than triples the capacity of the water treatment works. “The scheme won the Global Grand Prize in the Design Project category of International Water Association Project Innovation Awards 2006, which recognizes excellence and innovation in water engineering projects throughout the world,” he said.
Headquartered in the United States, Black & Veatch has more than 100 offices all over the world. “The Hong Kong branch is one of the offices with the longest history. In 2015, the head office will mark the 100th-year anniversary, while the Hong Kong office will celebrate the 85th anniversary in the same year. We hope to grow bigger in the next decade,” he said.
Company: Black & Veatch Hong Kong Ltd
HKGCC Membership No. HKB0162
Member since: 1993
Established: 1930 (HK branch);
1915 (US head office)
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