Fri, Mar 01, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Hsinchu fallow project begins today

TRADE-OFF The battle to keep the water flowing to Hsinchu has begun, with water usually supplied to farmers now destined for the area's high-tech factories


Emergency measures involving a project covering 18,000 hectares to be left fallow will be implemented today to make up for the shortage of water at the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park (新竹科學園區).

Officials said the project, coupled with other water-supply initiatives, will be sufficient to solve water shortages in Taoyuan (桃園) and Hsinchu (新竹) counties.

Officials of the economic affairs ministry's Water Resources Department (水利處) said yesterday that 600,000 to 650,000 tonnes of water that were originally used for irrigation will be channeled not only to the Hsinchu Science-based Industrial Park, but also to communities short of water.

Agricultural officials said that water supply to irrigation channels would be cut today. Agricultural officials also said that the government would offer compensation to farmers who had already planted rice seedlings in their fields. The estimated amount of the compensation will reportedly exceed NT$1 billion.

Reporting to Minister of Economics Christine Tsung (宗才怡) and National Science Council Chairman Wei Che-ho (魏哲和), who visited the park yesterday, officials of the Taiwan Water Supply Corporation (TWSC, 自來水公司) said emergency measures can meet the Hsinchu area's daily water demand of 370,000 tonnes of water.

Kuo Yueh-fu (郭悅富), manager of TWSC's Third District Management Department (第三區管理處), said that the extra water could support the area until the end of May, when the rainy season arrives.

The two-month-long drought has caused water shortages in the Hsinchu area. The problem worsened as farmers began irrigating their crops.

"In January and February, the rainfall was only 30 percent of the average level in the past," Kuo said.

Currently, the science-based industrial park needs 16,000 tonnes of water a day more that it gets, while an industrial zone nearby is short by 3,000 tonnes of water each day.

In a nearby residential area, more than 402,000 residents are short of water and require another 32,000 tonnes of water per day. A water-supply alteration plan was enacted in the area on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Hsinchu Mayor Lin Junq-Tzer (林政則) held a traditional ritual to pray to the gods for rain.

In addition to diverting the irrigation water, the area will be also be supplied with water from the Feitsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫), Taipei County. Part of the water is expected to be transferred into a water treatment plant in Hsinchu today.

Meanwhile, a big problem encountered by water-resource officials is the construction of a 300m long channel in Taoyuan County that has been held up by opposition from local officials. If the pipeline is completed, 200,000 tonnes of water from Taipei would be sent to Hsinchu.

Economics Minister Tsung said yesterday that she would communicate with the local government chief to see if the land requisition could be carried out soon.

"We hope to finish construction on the channel within two months," Tsung said.

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