Environmental activists yesterday urged the government to halt the approval of the Jiyang Lake (吉洋湖) Development Project because of unresolved controversies over the project’s potential impact on the environment.
The Jiyang Lake Development Project secured approval from the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Committee at the Environmental Protection Administration in 2002. The estimated construction cost is NT$16.1 billion.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ (MOEA) Water Resources Agency is in charge of the project.
According to Lee Cho-han (李卓翰), secretary-general of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union, the project would excavate 350 hectares of fine soil and build a 12m deep lake.
The project would help the ministry excavate approximately 30 million tonnes of high-quality river sand, the value of which would exceed NT$10 billion (US$323 million), he said, adding that the government might be more interested in excavating the river sand than developing the water resources.
Hung Hui-hsiang (洪輝祥), chairman of the Pintung Environmental Protection Union, said the original design was to divert water from the Laonung River (荖濃溪) into Jiyang Lake during the rainy season. The lake water would then be used by residents in the Kaohsiung area during the dry season.
“The new project plan still keeps the plan to divert water from the Laonung River, but it will expand the scale of the plan so it now also involves developing the ground water as well,” Hung said.
He said that developing the ground water would affect the residents of Meinong (美濃) and Cishan (旗山) and cause subsidence, adding that the plan absolutely needs to be reviewed again by the EIA committee.
In response, the Water Resources Agency said the project was not designed to excavate high-quality sand. The lake will mainly be used to store water, it added.