Taiwan is experiencing a spring that is drier and warmer than usual, driving down water levels at local reservoirs, and with no prospects for rain in sight, officials are struggling to deal with looming water shortages.
Drought has been most evident in parts of Taoyuan and Miaoli counties in northern Taiwan and Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung in the south — areas where “phase one” water rationing measures have been in place since last month.
Under the mechanism, water pressure is reduced from 11pm to 5am and water for irrigation is restricted.
Vice Premier Sean Chen yesterday said water levels at the country’s major reservoirs have fallen to alarming levels, forcing the Water Resources Agency (WRA) to implement further water-rationing measures.
Chen was referring to Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Hwang Jung-chiou’s (黃重球) comment a day earlier that the government might implement “phase two” water-rationing measures on Wednesday next week, earlier than previously planned, if Taiwan does not receive significant rainfall in the next 10 days.
Under the second-phase water rationing plan, water supplies for fountains and other non-essential uses, such as cleaning streets, ditches and building exteriors, would be cut off.
In addition, supplies to swimming pools, car washes, saunas and other operations that use 1,000m3 or more of water per month would be cut by 20 percent, while water supplies for industrial use would be reduced by 5 percent.
According to Presidential Office spokesman Fang Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基), President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) will today preside over a meeting with related departments to seek solutions to the growing crisis.
Ma will meet with officials from the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the WRA and other departments to discuss water-use restriction measures and the possible impact on the economy and society.
Ma will inspect the Shihmen Reservoir later this week to gain a better understanding of the water supply, Fang Chiang added.
Separately yesterday, Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said the water level in the Feicuei Reservoir was at about 155m, which should offer enough water for Taipei and part of New Taipei City (新北市) until July.
Wu Yang-lung (吳陽龍), director of the Taipei Water Department, said rainfall in the reservoir last month dropped 160mm compared with the rainfall during the same period last year, but the water level was only a little lower than last year.
Hau said the Taipei City Government started a campaign last year to encourage water conservation and offered monetary rewards to households or communities that were able to cut monthly water use by 10 percent or more, encouraging the residents to join the campaign, which will begin by the end of this month.