Getting to Know Tung Chung River

Tung Chung River is to the southwest of Tung Chung New Town in Lantau and is a remaining natural river in Hong Kong. The whole river course is pristine from its sources to its estuary and bay, with the exception of the channelized sections from Shek Lau Po to Wong Ka Wai and where it crosses Tung Chung Road for flood prevention purposes.

Tung Chung River has catchments around its east and west branches, with a basin area of 11 square kilometres. The west branch is known as Tso Stream, which begins between Lantau Peak and Sunset Peak. North Fung Tai Stream, the east branch, originates from the west of Sunset Peak. The two branches flow through the villages of Shek Mun Kap, Mok Ka, Fong Yuen, Shek Lau Po etc., then merge at the end of the valley between Ngau Au and Wai Ka Wai, finally flowing into the 80 hectares Tung Chung Bay.

Tung Chung River is one of the few rivers in Hong Kong with good water quality. It is one of the major rivers supplying Shek Pik Reservoir. According to the results of an analysis in 2019, the Environmental Protection Department reported an E. coli level of 760/100ml in Tung Chung River, grading it as “excellent” in water quality. Moreover, Tung Chung River has very high ecological values with many species of native freshwater fish recorded, including the Beijing Thick-lipped Barb. The large areas of mangrove and mudflats at the estuary are also habitats for many valuable species. Horseshoe crabs, seahorses, sea dragons, and a number of fish species of commercial value reproduce and nurse their young at Tung Chung Bay.

Under the Tung Chung New Town Extension project, reclamation in Tung Chung East is being carried out to provide about 130 hectares of land. The project also includes development of Tung Chung West which coincides with the lower course of Tung Chung River. Although there will be no reclamation in Tung Chung West, its development still creates some concern over the effect of the work on river water quality and the ecosystems.

On the other hand, the government will carry out flood prevention work of Tung Chung River by constructing polders on both sides of the river. This will reduce flooding risks as well as minimize man-made disruptions to the river. Furthermore, there will be no construction work on the river bed of the natural section of Tung Chung River so that the natural landscapes of the river can be preserved.

In the future, Hong Kong’s first River Park will be established at the extended part of Tung Chung New Town. Channelized sections of the Tung Chung River will be revitalised and become part of the Park, together with some of the natural sections. The Park will serve several purposes including recreation, ecological conservation and flood prevention. It will also promote a water-friendly culture.