Kai Tak: Toilet bowl or water sports paradise
The best water for marine recreation, leisure and sports in Victoria Harbour for all aegis the 90 hectares of inland water known as the Kai Tak Approach Channel and the Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter. The water is calm in almost all-weather conditions and is protected by land on all sides except for small gaps between the Kai Tak runway and Kwun Tong.
Two things are required to make this water available to the 2.2 million residents of Kowloon for recreation: clean water and purpose built marine supporting facilities along the shore (think: the water sports centre at Stanley main beach).
Despite intense planning for the former airport site, both are left wanting. Drastic action is needed to achieve both. The Government should reconsider treating Kai Tak’s inland water as a toilet bowl for the benefit of land revenue and cost savings.
The first ‘no-reclamation’ outline zoning plan for Kai Tak in 2007 had roads along each section of the waterfront. With lobbying, these were moved except for a short section.
As of 2014, water sports and recreation are now always permitted in public open spaces, but we have a saying: ‘always permitted means it never gets done’.
Instead of permanent sites we can expect two containers on the lower embankment of the runway, use of an old fire station surrounded by temporary structures near the runway tip and a small site under the highway without landing steps or a ramp to access the water.
What’s worse is the water quality. Many remember the smell upon landing at Kai Tak. To solve this, a 600 metre gap under the runway would allow tidal changes to flush the enclosed waters.
In 2018, it was proudly determined that the land could be used for development and infrastructure as the gap was no longer needed. As factories moved to the Mainland, the ‘expedient’ discharge of pollutants into storm drains had ‘improved’ a lot.
Unfortunately, the Government advised the Town Planning Board in November 2020 that although the smell had gone, runoff from Kowloon City and Kwun Tong and effluent from the Tai Po and Shatin Sewage Treatment Works will continue to flow into this semi-enclosed waterbody. This makes it doubtful the E.coli standards for secondary contact recreational uses will (ever) be met. The solution is simple – to invest into redirecting these pollutants to the open water.
It is not too late to fix Kai Tak.
(Based on ‘Kai Tak: Toilet bowl or water sports paradise’ by Paul Zimmerman published in Southside Magazine, 1 December 2020)
要將這水域開放給 220 萬九龍區市民進行水上活動有兩個先決條件：一、潔淨水質；二、沿岸的水上活動配套（如赤柱正灘的水上活動中心）。儘管啟德的發展如火如荼，以上兩項卻了無寸進，要達成條件仍須下更多苦功。
啟德首個排除填海的規劃大綱（S/K22/2, 2007）中有馬路貫穿不同海濱路段，多次遊說後成功爭取只在一小段保留馬路，水上活動及娛樂亦隨之獲准在公共空間進行。（S/K22/4, 2014）然而，政府卻為了土地收入及節省成本，將啟德水域視為名乎其實的公廁。
比設施更大的問題是水質。啟德明渠的臭味仍記憶猶新，政府曾提出了在跑道打開一個 600 米的缺口，讓水流協助排走污水。2018 年，當局卻因為水質問題的改善提出沒有興建該缺口的必要，並建議把原有土地用作發展及基建用途。隨着工廠北移，把工業污水排到明渠的不負責行為日漸減少，水質才稍為有些改善。
令人嘩然的是政府竟在 2020 年 11 月（Y/K22/4）建議城規會繼續把九龍城、觀塘的排水，及大埔和沙田污水處理廠的已處理污水排放到臭味問題已經改善的啟德明渠，令人質疑在啟德水域進行康樂活動的安全，擔心大腸桿菌能否在可見將來，符合次級接觸的標準。其實解決方法非常簡單，只須把這些污水直接引流到開放水域。解決啟德問題，為時未晚。