Thu, Dec 04, 2014 - Page 13 News List

Drought could call for stricter water rationing

STAGE TWO?Officials said tighter control of water supplies, amid a deepening drought, could be put in place before the Lunar New Year in February

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Taiwan could face second-phase water rationing before next year’s Lunar New Year holidays, with third-phase rationing possibly looming by May amid the worst drought in the past decade, Minister of Economic Affairs Woody Duh (杜紫軍) said yesterday.

“This is a serious drought we are facing now. The water-storage levels of the reservoirs across the nation are only 20 to 30 percent of the annual average,” Duh told reporters before the ministry’s emergency meeting on water supplies.

Duh said the ministry is working to maintain normal water supplies for household use and to avoid rationing before the February holidays.

The Water Resources Agency said that second-stage measures end the supply of water for certain public uses, such as swimming pools or public fountains.

The following stage means the government supplies water only between specific scheduled hours, it added.

Agency Director-General Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said the cessation of irrigation for certain agricultural fields to save water for household use is an inevitable measure needed to brace against the drought next year, adding that the measure would affect about 30,000 hectares of farmland in western Taiwan.

Yang said farmers have harvested all the crop fields for this year, but as the Central Weather Bureau forecasts that the lack of precipitation is set to extend into next year, it is likely that there would not be sufficient water for unlimited agricultural use.

“We will hold another emergency meeting and announce which areas must cease irrigation at the end of this year, so farmers can prepare,” Yang said.

Greater Kaohsiung’s water supply is the most unstable, compared with other cities and municipalities, because it lacks a nearby reservoir, Yang said.

The Gaoping River (高屏溪) — Greater Kaohsiung’s primary water source — has been found to have its lowest year-on-year water level in the past 15 years, he added.

“The [water-supply] situation in Greater Kaohsiung is difficult,” Yang said.

Yang said the agency has implemented first-stage water rationing for the municipality’s industrial users, in which it lowers water pressure between 11pm and 5am, adding that he is to soon meet with Kaohsiung Mayor Chen Chu (陳菊) to further discuss water supplies.

Meanwhile, first-stage rationing has not affected water use for science and industrial parks or export-processing zones nationwide, Yang said.

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