Mon, May 20, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Looking to ancient wisdom

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER , WITH AGENCIES

Collecting rainwater for later use is an ideal way to treasure natural resources and save money, water resources experts said yesterday.

To promote the idea of collecting rainwater in Taiwan, water resources experts established the Taiwan Rainwater Catchment and Utilization Association (台灣雨水資源貯集利用協會) yesterday.

Hwang Jing-san (黃金山), director general of the Water Resources Agency (水利署), said using rainwater was not an innovative idea but an ancient wisdom.

Recalling the days of old when Taiwan was an agrarian nation, Hwang said people used cisterns to collect rainwater for use in cleaning floors, washing clothes and other purposes.

"The virtue of taking advantage of what nature provides, however, has been forgotten by people living in industrialized society," Hwang said at a ceremony for the establishment of the association held at Taipei Zoo yesterday.

The zoo -- a model praised by water resources experts for its use of rainwater -- once faced serious water headaches.

When the Asian Rainfall Zone opened in June 1997, the zoo's monthly water bill climbed by NT$300,000.

The following year, the zoo decided to carry out a project to collect rain by establishing a rainwater harvesting system composed of 15 cisterns and other facilities.

The Ministry of Economic Affairs financially supported the project and the Industrial Technology Research Institute's (ITRI) Energy and Resources Laboratories provided technical assistance.

Rainwater preserved at the zoo -- a recreation site for 3.5 million tourists each year -- is used for flushing toilets, washing hands, watering plants, cleaning animals' houses, filling ponds and other uses.

According to the ITRI, rainwater collected by cisterns is filtered twice to separate impurities and usable clean water.

Over the past four years, according to the zoo's administrative office, the zoo has reduced water consumption by 20 percent. That works out to 300,000 tonnes of water annually for a cost savings of NT$3 million.

The zoo is one of many places where rainwater harvesting systems have been established. Transworld Institute of Technology (環球技術學院) in Yunlin County uses 38,000 tonnes of rainwater annually.

Chung Hwa Picture Tubes Ltd (中華映管) uses 600,000 tonnes. In southern Taiwan, experiments conducted by the Tainan Hydraulics Laboratory (水工試驗所), in cooperation with the Water Resources Agency and National Cheng Kung University, rely on rainwater supplied by a reservoir where 15,000 tonnes of rainwater can be stored.

Water-resource experts of the newly formed association said that technologies pertaining to water reclamation systems were promoted by many countries, such as Germany, South Korea and others, for the sake of sustainable development.

The association aims to promote rainwater harvesting technologies in Taiwan and popularize them for household use in the near future.

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