Ng Tung River
Ng Tung River, also known as the River Indus, a name bestowed by an Indian surveyor who was sent to examine the topography in the New Territories when the city was still under the British colonial rule, is a large tributary of the Shenzhen River that defines the border between Hong Kong and Mainland China. The river catchment comprises of areas such as Lung Yeuk Tau, Fanling, and Sheung Shui. Originating its upper course from Robin’s Nest and Wong Leng, the river flows through the vicinity of Fu Tei Au and merges with its two tributaries – Shek Sheung River and Sheung Yue River, before it finally feeds into the large river system of Shenzhen River. Besides supporting villagers’ agricultural activities and poultry farming, some of the most common modes of subsistence back in the last century, its abundant natural water resources has long provided an ecological lifeline for a wide variety of species.
A look back at the severe drought in 1963 followed by city-wide water shortage problem may remind a lot of people of that same generation who experienced a tough time in collecting buckets of water from street standpipes to their homes. Due to decreased summer rainfall, reservoirs were greatly depleted, pressuring the government to enforce a year-long water rationing restriction. Funding and commencing the construction works of building a new pumping station near Fu Tei Au was one of the many measures that were taken to cope with water scarcity that year. The plan aimed to construct a rubber dam and a permanent pumping station in order to withdraw and deliver excessive water to other reservoirs during summer months. As the river water became a new source for drinking water, citizens started to raise concerns over river water quality and the its pollutions caused by nearby dyeing mills. Consequently, the Tai Po Public Enquiry Centre proposed to relocate 50 tanneries in the hope of reducing pollutants discharge into the river. Moreover, a 3-month river rehabilitation project led by the Regional Council successfully cleaned up 400 tons of trash from the river, elevated the hygiene level substantially.
Evidenced by tangible monument such as the stone stele at Sek Bei Tau, the river has proved to have witnessed an astounding history of numerous hydraulic engineering projects. Once composed of meandering streams that were extremely susceptible to destructible flooding, the river has now undergone a series of substantial changes over the past hundred of years, including the river regulation project completed in year 2002, taking pride in its successful story of water resource management and flood mitigation measures. As the river bank’s safety level and aesthetic features have improved, many find it a pleasant open-air area to exercise, fish, and play model boats.
Hong Kong Waterworks River Indus Pumping Station, built in 1967 as evidenced on the façade on, was responsible to pump water out from the Ng Tung River and transfer it to Tai Lam Chung Reservoir and Plover Cove Reservoir for storage. Several concrete light poles marked with the “GEC” (General Electric Company) logos remain standing, leaving trails of this British private corporation who once dominated the electronics, communication, and engineering market.