Agricultural irrigation using water from Miaoli County’s Mingte Reservoir (明德水庫) and the Daan River (大安溪) in northern Greater Taichung is to cease at the end of the year to conserve supplies for household use, the Water Resources Agency said yesterday.
“The Ministry of Economic Affairs will make an official announcement with immediate effect on Dec. 30. The measure will affect about 5,800 hectares of agricultural fields,” agency Director-General Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) told a news conference after an emergency meeting on water supplies.
Despite recent precipitation in northern Taiwan, the drought down south has not eased, Yang said, adding that the irrigation shutoff is inevitable.
Water will no longer be supplied to 1,175 hectares of land near the Mingte Reservoir and 4,625 hectares of land along the northern shore of the Daan River, Yang said.
“The water supply suspension for agricultural use in Miaoli and Taichung will save a total of 65 million tonnes of water for household use,” Yang said.
The government will compensate farmers whose land must lie fallow because of the water restrictions at NT$85,000 (US$2,700) per hectare, which is estimated to cost the government a total of NT$430 million.
Yang said the ministry will decide when to cease agricultural irrigation elsewhere in the nation by next week.
“We might further suspend water provision for northern Taoyuan, Hsinchu and Chiayi [counties] based on the latest weather forecast to be provided in another emergency meeting on Thursday next week,” Yang said.
The Central Weather Bureau forecast is for chances of precipitation today and at the end of this month, which might slightly relieve the drought, Yang said.
Yang said that if the areas covered by the Chianan Irrigation Association in Chiayi and Greater Tainan are included in the water suspension areas during the next meeting, it would be the largest irrigation cessation since 2004, as the current drought appears to be the worst in a decade.
“The measure could affect about 43,500 hectares of farmland in Taiwan and cost NT$3.69 billion in compensation,” he said.
The Council of Agriculture is assessing any potential influence on the nation’s grain reserves, but the measure will not affect the nation’s food supply at the moment, Yang said.
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