Mon, Jun 21, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Artificial lakes get attention of ecology groups


Representatives of influential environmental groups will hold a meeting with the Council for Economic Planning and Development today to discuss the government's controversial plans to build four large lakes, urging the council to suspend the plans until a comprehensive evaluation of nationwide water resources has been conducted.

Sam Lin (林聖崇), head of the Ecology Conservation Alliance, told the Taipei Times yesterday that the Legislative Yuan's passage of the Special Statute for Increasing Investment in Public Construction (擴大公共建 設投資特別條例) on June 11 makes it legal for the government to allocate a special budget of up to NT$500 billion (US$15.2 billion) for the 10 Major Infrastructure Projects.

One of the 10 projects is to build four large lakes around the nation.

The Water Resources Agency is considering building four large lakes in Kaohsiung, Taoyuan, Tainan and Yunlin Counties -- not only to control flooding but also to ensure water supplies to certain areas. Environmentalists, however, question the necessity of the artificial lakes.

"Unfortunately, we haven't seen a detailed evaluation of the nation's water use situation. The government should have first analyzed water resources in northern, central and southern Taiwan and only then considered new hydraulic construction projects," Lin said.

According to Lin, the government now bases water policies on the Guiding Principles of the Development of Water Resources in Taiwan (台灣地區水資 源開發綱領計畫), whose Strategic Environmental Assessments (政策環 評) provisions were passed by the Environmental Protection Administration in 2001.

But in the environmental impact assessment report, the relationship between policy and estimated environmental carrying capacity was barely addressed, Lin said.

"The report fails to accurately evaluate water policies' impact on the environment because of a lack of national criteria for certain environmental factors, such as air pollution, river pollution, soil contamination and other things," Lin said.

Today, Lin and activists from Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, the Homemakers' Union and Foundation, the ecological education center of the National Teachers' Association and others will meet with high-ranking council officials to make their case against the advisabiliyt of constructing artificial lakes.

The council is in charge of evaluating the long-term impact of major infrastructure projects of the nation.

Lin said that water resources management is related to other policies, ranging from industrial structures to the excavation of gravel and sandstone, and plans for the lakes are not in the best interest of ordinary people.

According to Li Ken-cheng (李根政), executive-general of the Taiwan Academy of Ecology, the Kao-Ping Great Lake, which would cover 700 hectares of land, is merely an excuse to excavate 65 million m3 of gravel and sandstone.

"The last thing society needs is to consume limited resources by building unnecessary development projects like artificial lakes," Li told the Taipei Times.

Li said that the government should provide more explanation about these projects and explain how they would be beneficial to the nation.

Agency director-general Chen Shen-hsien (陳伸賢) said that building artificial lakes is necessary. "We hope to introduce innovative technologies from abroad in order to ensure quality of construction," Chen told the Taipei Times.

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