Fri, Mar 21, 2003 - Page 6 News List

Taiwan needs to recognize the real costs of water

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER , IN KYOTO

Taiwan must adopt diverse and extraordinary measures to promote water conservation, including a water price hike, Water Resources Agency Director Hwang Jing-san (黃金山) said yesterday in Kyoto.

Taiwan's delegation to the Third World Water Forum will return to Taiwan today.

Before wrapping up five days of participation in the forum, Hwang said that a shortage of water resources remains a threat to Taiwan for the near future.

"We Taiwanese have indulged in wasting water that we pay extremely low prices to obtain," Hwang said.

According to Hwang, water prices in Japan are about three to four times those of water prices in Taiwan.

"If water prices reflected the real value of the water, users would not waste it," Hwang said.

The real cost of water should include the costs of ecological conservation, reducing the rate of water loss and other maintenance, Hwang said.

After paying a visit to Lake Biwa -- the largest lake in Japan and one of its most important fresh water resources -- in Shiga prefecture, Hwang said that Taiwan has the same ability to maintain and protect its water resources as Japan does.

"If our water resource management system could be less politicized, solving water-related issues would be easier," Hwang said.

DPP lawmaker Eugene Jao (趙永清), who observed the forum in Japan, said that Taiwan's involvement in the forum lays particular stress on the technological side of conservation.

"We should also have paid attention to social issues, such as capacity building," Jao said.

Capacity building refers to the sum of efforts to enhance and utilize people's skills and capabilities as well as institutions at the local, national and global levels, in an attempt to sustain development of water resources.

Jao said that promoting the innovation of technology in order to achieve goals such as water conservation, waste water recycling, rainwater harvesting remained essential to solving water shortage related problems.

Jao said that he would urge the Sustainable Development Committee (永續會) of the Legislative Yuan to discuss water issues, including establishing reasonable water prices and improving the effectiveness of water resources management.

Although Taiwan's delegation will not be able to join the Ministerial Conference on all occasions when the forum meets, Hwang said, the WRA would still keep the nation well informed with updated views shared by forum members worldwide.

Meeting under the shadow of the war in Iraq, the forum's members called for international cooperation in maintaining the limited water resources on the planet.

Dr. Mohmoud Abu-Zeid, the President of the World Water Council (WWC) warned of the negative impact being made by the war on the region's water resources, water-distribution systems and sanitation systems.

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