The public will get a discount for conserving water starting next month, the Water Resources Agency announced yesterday.
Under the incentive program, water users who cut consumption by 15 percent from the same period last year will get a 5 percent discount on their water bill, the agency said.
Those who cut water usage by between 15 percent and 30 percent will receive a 10 percent discount, and those who cut usage by more than 30 percent will get a 15 percent discount.
It is expected that 6.03 million individuals, households and elementary and junior high schools will be eligible for the program, which will apply for the anticipated drought period from next month through June, the agency said.
The plan will be adjusted as necessary.
“If the water shortage problem gets worse, the agency could provide even bigger incentives to encourage water conservation,” an agency official said.
The Water Resources Agency had previously said that water rationing could be imposed by the end of February next year if no rain falls from now until next spring.
The nation has been affected by a continuing drought since the beginning of this year, except for August, when Typhoon Morakot hit the country, a climate change monitoring center at National Taiwan University said.
During the first 10 months of the year it rained on 52 days — 90 days less than average —the center said.
Since Typhoon Morakot, no rain has fallen in southern Taiwan, exacerbating the threat of water shortages.
Premier Wu Den-yih (吳敦義) said on Sunday that the government would use financial incentives to encourage the public to conserve water as it has done to encourage conservation or electricity.
Earlier he said the government had mapped out short, medium and long-term measures to fight a potential water shortage.
The immediate measure is to ask “every household to conserve water,” while the government has also prohibited irrigation on 1,900 hectares of farmland since Dec. 15.
In the long term, he said the Executive Yuan had decided to earmarked NT$34 billion (US$1.05 billion) to dredge the Zengwun and Nanhua reservoirs.
About NT$26 billion will be allocated to remove silt from Zengwun over the next six years, with NT$8 billion to be spent on cleaning Nanhua, he said.
The Zengwun Reservoir straddles the border between Chiayi and Tainan counties and is the nation’s largest reservoir. The Nanhua Reservoir is in Tainan County.
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