Wed, May 15, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Rain predicted as officials mull even tougher action

REUTERS AND CNA , TAIPEI

Taiwan weather forecasters yesterday said a low-pressure system would bring much-needed rain to Taiwan, while the government prepared to decide whether to adopt even tougher water-rationing measures.

The Central Weather Bureau forecast that seasonal "plum rains" -- named for the plum trees that blossom at this time of year -- could come as early as this afternoon. "Between [this] afternoon and [Saturday] May 18, there are chances of rains or even torrential rains in certain areas," the weather forecasting agency said.

It did not say whether there would be enough rain to bring lasting relief.

The worst drought in decades has sparked panic-buying of bottled water and water-rationing in the capital, which has seen only half the normal rainfall this year.

The prolonged drought has forced authorities to begin rationing Taipei City's three million residents on Monday, the first time in 22 years. The water supply to each of the city's five districts has been cut for 24-hour stretches since Monday.

Taipei City Government spo-kesman Wu Yu-sheng (吳育昇) said yesterday that the city might adopt the more restrictive measure of suspending water supplies once every three days if no rainfall occurs soon.

Fretting about plummeting water levels at the Feitsui Reservoir -- Taipei's main source of water -- the city government's drought-fighting task force will meet again today to discuss whether the current once-every-five-day water-rationing policy should be turned into a stiffer once-every-three-day policy, Wu noted.

In Monday's water-rationing move, nearly 420,000 households and tap water customers, involving 1.28 million residents, were affected. According to the Taipei Water Department, roughly 580,000 tons of water were saved, Wu said.

Meanwhile, the Feitsui Reservoir Authority, in cooperation with the Cabinet-level Water Resources Agency, began to seed clouds in the skies above Wulai (烏來) in Taipei's southern suburb yesterday. The rain-making efforts are expected to last for five days.

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