Fri, Mar 07, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Taipei predicts tougher water restrictions ahead

ENVIRONMENT Taipei City Government officials say they will be quicker to impose water conservation measures than they were during last year's drought


Stricter water conservation measures could be put into place in Taipei City as early as April 1, officials with the Taipei City Govern-ment said yesterday.

Since Wednesday, northern counties, including Taipei City, have seen water pressure reduced between 10pm and 6am as part of the first stage of conservation measures.

The drought-relief center under the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Tuesday that whether to implement further restrictions depends on rainfall.

Minister of Economic Affairs Lin Yi-fu (林義夫) said yesterday that residents should remain calm.

"By the end of June, water supplies to the industrial and residential sectors should be back to normal," Lin told the media.

Lin said the ministry would closely monitor water levels at reservoirs and weather conditions to determine the timing of tighter water restrictions.

Yesterday, however, Taipei City's drought-relief center said it would launch the second phase of water restrictions when levels at the Feitsui Reservoir, which is managed by the city, drop to 137m.

Officials at the Taipei Water Department predict the tighter restrictions will begin sometime between April 1 and April 10.

The level at the reservoir yesterday was 146m, 5m lower than at the same time last year.

Taipei Deputy Mayor Ou Chin-der (歐晉德), who convened the meeting on combatting the drought, said the second phase of water restrictions was launched last year when waters levels at the Feitsui Reservoir dropped to 134.7m.

"Based on our experience, it's necessary to launch stricter water restrictions earlier this year," Ou said.

According to Ou, if the second phase is imposed, water supplies to swimming pools, car washes and other heavy users would be cut by half, or as much as four-fifths.

Officials said that reducing water pressure at night helps the city save 51,000 tonnes of water a day.

Feitsui Reservoir director Kang Shih-fang (康世芳) yesterday urged residents to use water economically in order to postpone the implementation of tougher restrictions.

Taipei City officials said yesterday that they would report to the ministry on the project to get its approval.

Yesterday's drizzle did little to alleviate the drought. According to the Central Weather Bureau, temperatures in northern Taiwan today and tomorrow will be lower than they were yesterday, falling to about 14?C due to the arrival of a cold front.

Forecasters said it could rain on and off in the north over the weekend, but that this would likely fail to have a significant impact on reservoirs' water levels.

The North Water Resources Bureau under the Water Resource Agency initiated the first cloud-seeding project of the year yesterday by releasing silver-iodide particles into clouds near the Shihmen Dam.

Officials' efforts, however, resulted in only 0.3mm of rainfall at the reservoir. The dam's water level was 221m yesterday. Officials said the reservoir is at only 33.81 percent of capacity.

Water Resources Agency officials said they will expand cloud-seeding efforts near the Feitsui Reservoir.

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