Tue, Mar 22, 2005 - Page 2 News List

Water conservation urged during World Water Day

By Chiu Yu-Tzu  /  STAFF REPORTER

As today is World Water Day, people should do more to conserve water in order to ensure its sustainability, officials with the Water Resources Agency said yesterday.

In 1992, the UN General Assembly declared March 22 would be World Water Day. Beginning 1993, countries used the day to raise public awareness about water conservation. This year's World Water Day will be guided by the theme "Water for Life."

It will be the beginning of the Decade for Action, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly. The days is typically given different themes, such as "Water and Disasters" last year, "Water for the Future" in 2003, "Water for Development" in 2002, "Water for Health" in 2001 and "Water for the 21st Century" in 2000.

The agency's Director-General Chen Shen-hsien (陳伸賢) said yesterday that Taiwan, even as a UN outsider, should keep abreast of global trends.

"No water, no future," Chen said. "Most people in Taiwan don't value water because of its low cost. But in the 21st century, we will definitely face challenges in finding new sources of water."

For the past decade, the government has considered introducing controls on water prices during rainy and dry seasons in a bid to not only to promote the efficient use of water, but also encourage water conservation.

Currently, the price of 1,000 liters of water set in Taipei City is NT$7.50. In the rest of the country, the price is NT$10. Chen said that prices in Taiwan are much lower than that in other countries.

Last year, the agency estimated that it would be reasonable to increase the price by at least 30 percent. Therefore, a household which uses 30 liters a day will pay NT$90 more.

Chen said that unusual weather and increasing pressure from ecological conservationists make it difficult for the government to explore new sources of water by building new reservoirs.

However, environmentalists said that what Taiwan needs is better water resource management. Taking the Hushan Reservoir (湖山水庫) project in Yunlin County as an example, activists said the project would not be necessary if industry demand on water resources was discouraged by the government.

The project was approved in 2002 by the Executive Yuan and aims to supply 694,000 tonnes of water per day to Yunlin County area for both industrial and residential use. Environmentalists have project against the project because it threatens rare species of plants and animals in the area.

"Better management is needed," said Li Ken-cheng (李根政), director of the ecological education center of the Kaohsiung Teachers' Association.

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