Water supplies to Kaohsiung and Tainan during late night hours were to be cut beginning yesterday, as lower-than-usual rainfall continues to plague the nation, the Water Resources Agency (WRA) announced.
In what it called a “phase one” water rationing measure, the agency flashed a “yellow” alarm over possible water shortages as a result of continuing dry weather that has hit the entire country.
Under the measure, water pressure will be lowered so less water is pumped to reserve tanks or towers in the southern cities from 11pm to 5am, and water for irrigation will also be reduced.
Though the measure will not significantly affect industrial and household water usage, Tainan City Economic Development Bureau Director Yeh Hui-ching (葉惠青) urged people to conserve as much water as they could.
Dry weather over the past few days has lowered Nanhua reservoir’s weir flow rate — an indication of how much water is in the basin of water created by the weir — to 10.1 tonnes per second, which is approaching the “warning level” of 9.7 tonnes per second, according to the agency.
Agency Deputy Director-General Wu Yueh-hsi (吳約西) said the Ministry of Economic Affairs will hold a meeting on Monday to review the water situation across the country.
Wu said he expected the government to start “phase two” rationing measures later this month in Changhua, -Taichung, Miaoli, Hsinchu and Taoyuan cities and counties.
Under second-phase water rationing regulations, water will not be supplied to fountains or for such non-urgent uses as street cleaning, and washing building exteriors.
In addition, the supply of water for swimming pools, car washes, saunas and operations that use 1,000m3 or more per month will be cut by 20 percent. The supply to industrial users will be reduced by 5 percent.
First-phase water rationing was introduced in Hsinchu on March 18 and expanded on April 1 to include Taoyuan and Miaoli counties, the Banciao and Sinjhuang districts of New Taipei City (新北市) and Greater Taichung and Changhua County.
In western Taiwan, water supplies are normal only in Yunlin and Chiayi counties, even though the water level at the two major dams in Chiayi has fallen to 25 percent of capacity.
Since late last month, the weather bureau has recorded average rainfall of less than 1mm for Greater Kaohsiung and Greater Tainan, much lower than the 47mm for the same period in previous years, Wu said.
Weather forecasters are not expecting much relief for southern Taiwan in the coming days, he added.
Typically, the plum rain season in Taiwan begins on May 1 and lasts until the end of June, but the Central Weather Bureau has forecast that the rains will arrive later than usual this year.