The Environmental Protection Department uses drone, robot and submarine to investigate water pollution issues

The Environmental Protection Department uses drone, robot and submarine to investigate water pollution issues

In combating illegal wastewater discharge into rivers, the enforcement work of the Environmental Protection Department (EPD) is facing the challenge that the enforcement officers need to visit the areas quickly where these activities are taking place, identify the source of pollution and collect evidence.


Making use of the next-generation smart technologies and integrating the existing enforcement skills with innovative technology, EPD has tried to overcome some physical barricades which cannot be coped with by conventional means.


  • Drones with in-house designed water sampler
    • Collecting water samples by drone enables EPD investigators to obtain water samples efficiently at inaccessible or unsafe locations. In-house designed water samplers have performed excellently. They have been applied in getting samples from rivers and sea for incidents such as sewer damage, oil spill, white water in the river, etc.
  • Smart multi-terrain robot
    • By modifying its accessories, the Smart Multi-Terrain Robot can conduct remote underground and natural stream pollution monitoring, especially in old districts with complicated underground drainage systems. With the use of the robot, a successful prosecution case about illegal discharge of polluted water has been conducted at Yuen Long town.
  • Unmanned submarine
    • EPD uses an unmanned submarine to step up efforts in combating illegal discharge into rivers. It manages to identify potential pollution source at complicated drainage channels, and collect water as well as solid samples under the water up to 80m deep. It has also been used to monitor the ecology of coral under the sea near the “Three-Runway System Project”.


The use of smart equipment greatly enhanced the efficiency of investigation, further boosting the department's operational deployment capacity for enforcement to detect and combat the misbehaviour of polluters.


Management support and change management are important for the use of innovative technologies. Colleagues are encouraged to adopt and further enhance the technologies. Some useful accessories of the water sampler have been designed and made by the frontline colleagues themselves through the department's encouragement.