Fri, Jul 12, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Scientists unveil plan to manage water resources

EFFICIENCY Researchers say governments should scrap the concept of borders when looking at ways to minimize the nation's susceptibility to drought

By Chiu Yu-tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Viewing several counties as a whole would be a more efficient way manage precious water resources, officials with the Na-tional Science Council (NSC) said yesterday.

Along with the growth of human activity in Taiwan, water demands have increased dramatically in recent decades, the scientists said, adding that Taiwan should do a better job of managing water resources in order to reduce vulnerability to drought.

Based on the Water Resources Agency's data regarding water use in southern Taiwan and projects being carried out to transfer water, scientists created a model to improve the management of water resources by viewing southern Taiwan as a whole.

The model recommends transferring abundant river water during the wet season to reservoirs in other counties. When the dry season comes, scientists said, the stored water could be retrieved.

In the south, 90 percent of annual rainfall comes during the wet season, from May to October.

To implement the idea, scientists said, construction of the infrastructure needed to transfer water must be completed. These projects in southern Taiwan are scheduled to be completed in about 2021.

Currently, water resources in southern Taiwan are divided into two jurisdictions -- one covers Chiayi and Tainan counties, while the other covers Kaohsiung City as well as Kaohsiung and Pingtung counties.

If the model were implemented, an additional 260.24 million tonnes of water would be available each year, scientists said.

If the model were used in years of drought, an additional 322.03 million tonnes of water could be made available, scientists said.

"The result suggests that aggregating regional water supplies would dramatically increase the efficiency of the use of this precious resource," said Chen Chia-you (陳家榮), a resources engineering professor at National Cheng Kung University.

Chen said two major rivers in southern Taiwan are not used efficiently. According to Chen, only 45 percent of the water of the Tsengwen River (曾文溪) and 10.5 percent of water of the Kaoping River (高屏溪) was supplied to families and industry in the south.

"When managing water re-sources, governments at different levels should abandon the concept of county/city borders," said Yen Jung-hsiang (顏榮祥), a professor with the Department of Management and Information at the Southern Taiwan University of Technology.

However Yen predicts that water demand in Taiwan will exceed supply by 8.52 percent in 2021, even if the new management system is adopted. But he added that the crisis would be made worse if the nation adheres to the current, more rigid system of management.

Yen added that water conservation would be an ideal way to slow ever-increasing demand.

"Meanwhile, we still need to seek more sources of water by building desalination plants and reusing waste water," Yen said.

According to Chen and Yen, the model for managing water resources in southern Taiwan could be applied to the rest of the nation.

"Taiwan just experienced a drought. The Water Resources Agency should take scientists' suggestions into account," said NSC vice chairman Huang Wen-hsiung (黃文雄).

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