Sat, Oct 24, 2015 - Page 8 News List

City’s murky waters need clearing

By Chan Shun-kuei 詹順貴

However, by adjusting part of the project’s route, the length of the pipeline has been shortened from 4.1km to 2.5km. It is therefore difficult to understand why it would take four years to complete the planning and environmental impact assessment (EIA) phase, and a further three years to build the pipeline.

Why not abandon the most difficult part of the project — constructing a tunnel, which would have the greatest impact on the environment — and instead run an underground pipeline along the edge of the river bank — or even a surface pipeline — and extend the water intake to the reservoir’s dam. This would reduce costs and vastly reduce the time required to conduct the EIA. The project would take no more than four years and the quality of the water would be better preserved.

Third, everyone is aware that these are difficult times for the nation’s economy. Taipei receives the largest proportion of central government budget allocations, while the Taipei Water Department turns a profit of between NT$500 million and NT$700 million annually. Since the department is able to cover its costs, why should the central government pick up the tab? If the central government were unwilling to pay, what would Ko do?

Fourth, in the past, the Beishih River has been found to be insufficient as a permanent water supply for Taipei. Even if water was drawn directly from the Feitsui Reservoir, it would only be able to function as a secondary water supply. The problem with the water quality of Nanshih River still needs to be addressed.

As for the landslides upstream, the government should not try to force the repairs through, or it would risk further disturbance to the slopes.

Officials can consider airborne seeding as a way to speed up natural recovery in the affected areas. Also, either Taipei City Government or the Forestry Bureau should crack down on illegal farming and construction that has encroached upon protected areas.

Finally, there is the uncontrolled discharge of wastewater in the Wulai (烏來) hot springs area, which has affected the water quality in the Nanshih River. Wulai Township (烏來) has only a single, rudimentary wastewater processing facility, which handles only part of the wastewater created by households and law-abiding hot spring businesses.

However, two-thirds of local businesses have long been violating the law and have been illegally discharging their wastewater — which includes dirty bath water, sewage and used cooking water — directly into the Nanshih River. This has led to an increase in the amount of chemicals used at water purification plants, which, in turn, has had an indirect impact on the health of Taipei residents.

Local government officials have failed to crack down on the chaotic and illegal situation in Wulai. The law should be applied without fear so that the problem can be resolved once and for all.

New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) has been in his post for five years. Before embarking upon a career change, he should first resolve the chaotic situation in Wulai, which has caused the residents of both Taipei and New Taipei City to be concerned over the safety of their drinking water. Instead of trying to pull the wool over people’s eyes, Ko should consider the health of Taipei residents and monitor the amount of chemicals used in the water supply. He should also implement the plan to draw water directly from the Feitsui Reservoir dam, allocate a budget, carry out the EIA and start construction. It would benefit Taipei residents considerably.

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