Fri, May 24, 2002 - Page 1 News List

Rain brings relief to part of Taiwan, though not Taipei

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Water-rationing measures for central and southern Taiwan will be lifted today -- thanks to recent heavy rainfalls -- but restrictions will remain in place in the northern part of the county, the Cabinet's drought disaster-relief center said yesterday.

Water levels at major reservoirs in central and southern Taiwan have risen significantly, helped by heavy downpours since Wednesday.

In addition, groundwater levels have recovered as well, government officials said yesterday after a meeting of the center.

Kuo Yao-chi (郭瑤琪), executive-general of the center, announced the lifting of the restrictions yesterday. The measures have been in place in certain counties since May 3.

From today, Taichung, Nantou, Changhua, Yunlin, Chiayi, Tainan, Kaohsiung, Pingtung, Penghu, Ilan, Hualien and Taitung counties will be free from water controls.

That means residents can use tap water to wash their cars, fill up swimming pools, turn on fountains or for other recreational purposes.

But recent rainfall hasn't done much to help northern Taiwan.

The Cabinet yesterday said weekend water shut-offs for Taoyuan County and parts of Taipei County will continue.

Water to Taoyuan County and 10 townships in Taipei County will be cut off from midnight Friday until noon on Sunday again this weekend.

Relief doesn't appear imminent in Taipei City, either. At the Feitsui Reservoir -- a main supplier to the city -- accumulated rainfall for this month has been just 95mm, compared to roughly 260mm normally.

Still, it may now be unnecessary to enact a plan that would shut off taps twice a week.

"Taipei will not impose stricter water-rationing measures as long as total rainfall reaches 100mm for May and average rainfall between June and August exceeds at least 30 percent of average levels," Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said yesterday.

Water-resource officials yesterday said that water levels at the Shihmen Dam, a major supplier to northern Taiwan, was just 3.1 percent of its "effective capacity," or the total capacity above the "dead storage" level.

But officials estimated the water level could hit "dead storage" level by the middle of next month, in which case water would have to be pumped out of the reservoir.

Chen Shen-hsien (陳伸賢), deputy director at the Water Resources Agency, told the Taipei Times yesterday that officials plan to unify water resources in northern Taiwan to ensure a stable supply.

According to Chen, supplies in Hsinchu and Keelung might be transferred to areas in Taipei County after pumping systems are established. The pumps are expected to be in place by the middle of next month.

For example, 30,000 tonnes of water can be transferred daily from the Hsinshan Reservoir in Keelung to Hsichih in Taipei County after a pumping station in Keelung is completed.

Where pumping systems are not established, Chen said water would be transferred by water trucks.

In addition, officials said 52,000 tonnes of groundwater daily could become available for emergency use. Seven new wells are expected to be completed by June 15.

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