Thu, Nov 20, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Water woes could increase rationing

HIGH, DRY:The Water Resources Agency has already limited water supplies for agricultural consumers, agency Director-General Yang Wei-fu said yesterday

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan could next year face its most serious drought in the past decade, as this year’s precipitation has been much less than expected, Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) said yesterday.

“The nation has entered the period of low water levels more quickly than expected this year,” Duh said during a meeting of the Economics Committee at the legislature in Taipei.

The ministry has ordered the Water Resources Agency to address the possible drought conditions in several areas, including Banciao District (板橋) and Sinjhuang District (新莊) in New Taipei City, Hsinchu County, Miaoli County, Greater Taichung, Greater Tainan, Greater Kaohsiung and Penghu County, he said.

The agency has adjusted the water resources monitoring indicator for these areas from a “blue” light to a “green” light, indicating that water-storage levels are below normal.

The condition follows unexpectedly low rainfall from Tropical Storm Fung-Wong (鳳凰) in September and lower precipitation over the past few months, agency official Lai Chien-hsin (賴建信) said.

Agency Director-General Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said water supplies for household consumption would remain stable in reservoirs until the end of this year, but agricultural consumers already face rationing. The Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫) in Taoyuan County now provides just 75 percent of its storage for agricultural use, he added.

Lai said the agency has planned a meeting next month to address water-supply issues, adding that further rationing to consumers is not out of the question.

Separately, Duh told reporters on the sidelines of the committee meeting that signing free-trade agreements with other countries is not the “cure” for a nation’s economy, but the deals certainly help boost economic growth and elevate competitiveness for local industries.

Duh said that if the nation fails to sign new trade pacts, Taiwan’s large enterprises would end up leaving for other countries to seek investments, which would reduce domestic job opportunities.

“Fewer job opportunities will consequently damage Taiwan’s low-wage job environment,” Duh said, adding that if the government helps remove foreign tariff barriers for domestic companies, those firms would stay and create more job opportunities for young adults.

He said the nation must speed up negotiations on the cross-strait trade in goods agreement with China to lessen the negative impact of the new trade deal between Beijing and Seoul, once it takes effect in the near term.

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