Sun, Oct 01, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Last of Taipei’s lead pipes removed as project ends months ahead of schedule

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je, center, holds the last section of Taipei’s lead water pipes after the replacement project was completed yesterday.

Photo: Chang Chia-ming, Taipei Times

The last section of Taipei’s lead water pipes was replaced yesterday, marking the completion of the replacement project about 15 months ahead of schedule, the Taipei Water Department said.

Following a tainted water scare in Hong Kong in 2015, when tap water was found to contain lead levels above WHO safety limits, a similar concern emerged in Taiwan after local media reported that lead pipes carried water to about 36,000 households in seven Taiwanese cities and counties.

The department at the time said that no lead pipes were installed after 1979 and that a total of 424km of lead pipes longer than 20m had been replaced between 2009 and 2013, adding that the remaining lead pipes in the city would be gradually replaced by 2025.

However, Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) asked the department to reschedule the replacement project and allocate more funds to expedite it, promising to replace all lead pipes in the city with stainless steel pipes in three years.

Speaking at Dunqing Park (敦親公園) in Taipei’s Daan District (大安) yesterday, department Commissioner Chen Chin-hsiang (陳錦祥) said that with an additional budget of NT$420 million (US$13.86 million), the department was able to replace lead pipes serving 17,714 households in 21 months — 15 months sooner than scheduled.

At a media gathering in an alley next to the park, Ko held up the city’s last lead water pipe and gave a new stainless steel pipe to a worker to install it, marking the completion of the project.

“Taipei, being an old city, has a development history of more than a decade ... and the remaining ones [lead pipes] have been replaced in the past two years,” he said. “This marks the end of lead water pipes in Taipei.”

The new pipes are made using corrugated stainless steel tubing, which is also used in Japan, and has better resistance against earthquakes and mild excavator damage, Chen said, adding that the new pipes can ensure better water quality for the next 40 to 50 years.

Ko said the city government aims to install drinking fountains in all the parks in the city, hoping they will reduce the use of bottled water and disposable containers, which are a heavy burden on the environment.

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