Wed, May 03, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Minister defends large investment in aquatic environment

OPTIMIZING RESOURCES:The ministry plans to utilize technologies such as Internet-of-Things devices to manage the operations of the nation’s reservoirs

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Economic Affairs Lee Chih-kung (李世光) yesterday defended the government’s planned NT$250 billion (US$8.32 billion) investment in the aquatic environment under the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program, saying that the investments are to preserve water resources, and address climate change and homeland security needs.

“If the government does not invest in building a better aquatic environment now, future generations will live with the threats of either droughts or floods,” Lee told a news conference in Taipei.

Lee’s comments came a day before the Legislative Yuan’s Economics Committee is to re-examine a draft bill on the NT$880 billion infrastructure program.

About NT$250 billion, or 28.4 percent of the total budget, is earmarked for the aquatic environment.

Among the aquatic environment investments, NT$72 billion is to improve water discharge and water pollution treatment throughout the nation, the ministry said, adding that NT$43.13 billion is to be spent on the restoration of rivers and coastal areas.

Lee said the government also plans to build reprocessed water plants and develop subsurface water resources to increase the supply, with an estimated of additional annual supply of 1 million tonnes of water and 2 million tonnes of backup supply to be available by 2024.

“With the investments, we do not need to implement the toughest phase-three water rationing measures anymore if Taiwan ever faces a shortage again like it did in 2015,” Lee said.

In addition to hardware infrastructure, the investments are to utilize information and communication technologies, such as Internet-of-Things devices to manage the operations of reservoirs, Water Resources Agency Director-General Lai Chien-hsin (賴建信) said.

“The technologies optimize the use of water resources, such as allowing us to instantly measure the increase in water supply when it rains,” Lai said.

Domestic experts and academics have repeatedly suggested that the government increase water charges as the rates are too cheap, Lai said.

Taiwan Water Corp (台灣自來水公司) chairman Kuo Chun-ming (郭俊銘) on April 19 said the company plans to raise prices for customers using more than 51,000 liters of water per month before the end of this year, in an effort to encourage water conservation.

The ministry is to examine the company’s plan to raise prices and make a decision within three months of it receiving the state-run firm’s proposal, Lai said.

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