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Hong Kong's beaches are some of the finest in the region. Here you can find out about the monitoring programme on bathing beaches and what the Government is doing to ensure your health on every beach.

Beach Monitoring Programme

Because your health is vitally important, the Environmental Protection Department undertakes a comprehensive beach monitoring programme to:

  • Assess beach water compliance with the statutory Water Quality Objectives.
  • Detect changes in and provide advice on beach water quality.
  • Identify polluted beaches that need remedial action.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of pollution control programmes.
  • Decide whether beaches should be opened.

The Environmental Protection Department monitors beaches that are open for swimming at least 3 times a month. You may wish to note that most beaches are open from March to October, and a few are open all year due to their locations and popularity.

The Monitoring Process

The monitoring process includes sample taking and laboratory analysis. Samples are taken where the water is waist deep, and are delivered to the laboratory to detect the presence of E. coli bacteria, and to measure pH, salinity and turbidity. Dissolved oxygen concentration and the temperature of the water are measured at the beaches, and observations such as weather and beach conditions are recorded.

Grading of Beaches

During the bathing season, the Environmental Protection Department grades managed beaches on a scale of 1 to 4 according to the level of E. coli present. A grading of 1 indicates the highest beach water quality, and a grading of 4 indicates the lowest quality. Gradings are displayed at the beaches to inform swimmers. The grading information can also be obtained from the Environmental Protection Department's Beach Water Quality Hotline at 2511 6666, or can be viewed on the Department's website.

Annual Beach Rankings

Bathing beaches are also ranked over the year, to give you an overview of water quality across time. The 4 simple categories are:

  • Good
  • Fair
  • Poor
  • Very Poor

Only the first two of these categories meet Hong Kong's Water Quality Objectives. You should not swim at beaches ranked 'Poor' or 'Very Poor'. In general, beaches that are consistently ranked 'Very Poor' are closed. In 2012, 100% of the managed beaches have successfully complied with the Water Quality Objectives.

Rainfall and Beach Water Quality

Beach water can deteriorate soon after heavy rainfall through increased polluted surface-water runoff. Beaches in areas with inadequate sewerage or high population are more susceptible to this, but all beaches can be affected. You are advised to avoid swimming at beaches for up to 3 days after heavy rain, and to check the notices at beaches for the latest information before swimming.

Beach Pollution Response Plan

Pollution incidents other than those caused by heavy rainfall, such as the breakdown of sewage facilities or the illegal discharge of high-strength commercial or industrial waste water, could damage the environment and endanger your health. With that in mind, the Government has had a Beach Pollution Response Plan since 1997. The plan sets out required emergency responses to be taken by various Government departments in the event of an emergency.

Enquiry on the Opening of Beaches

Regarding the latest opening and closure arrangement of beaches, please call the beach offices for details. The public are also advised to consult the press release of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) about any special incidents at beaches.

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Last revision date: September 2014

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