Mon, Feb 27, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Premier steamed over halted water service

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Premier Su Tseng-chang, left, yesterday visits the Shihmen Reservoir, a major water source for Northern Taiwan, and listens to a report on the recent water supply problem caused by an ongoing project to flush sediment accumulated at the dam gates.

PHOTO: CNA

Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) yesterday lashed out at officials over problems with the Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫), which have halted or affected water supply to 250,000 households in parts of Taipei County and Taoyuan County, and offered an apology.

"Related personnel should thoroughly review why they caused such inconvenience and rectify the problems immediately. This kind of problem should not happen again," Su said while inspecting the reservoir.

A suspension of water services to the areas started on Saturday afternoon without warning. Water Resources Agency Director-General Chen Shen-hsien (陳伸賢) said the halt was caused by silt deposits that had made the water too turbid to be processed by treatment plants.

Deforestation, farming and road construction in mountainous areas means that heavy rains frequently wash soil and other debris into the Shihmen Reservoir, a major water source for northern Taiwan, often resulting in the suspension of water services.

Su asked local officials why they hadn't noticed the degree of seriousness of the silt deposits ahead of the suspension, and why they hadn't taken emergency measures to deal with the problem.

"The silt deposits didn't happen within just one or two days. You should look into why there was a sudden rise in the levels of turbidity," he said.

In response, Chen said: "The level of the silt deposits was unexpected. We tentatively believe that a large amount of silt washed into the reservoir and formed around the dam gates."

Chen said silt deposits in the reservoir are monitored frequently, but that the dam gate was outside the monitoring area.

The problem marked the second time in four days that the water supply to Taoyuan County has been suspended.

On Feb. 22, some 150,000 households in the northern part of the county were affected by urgent water rationing measures, also caused by turbidity problems.

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