With heavy rainfall in the past three days, the Ministry of Economic Affairs announced yesterday that a scheduled second-stage water restriction plan in nine cities and counties would not be imposed before May 31.
Following a meeting of the ministry’s drought emergency response panel yesterday, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Hwang Jung-chiou (黃重球) said that with 95 million tonnes of rainwater accumulated in reservoirs nationwide in the past few days, the ministry had decided to postpone the second stage of water restrictions.
The second stage was originally scheduled to be launched tomorrow in Linkou (林口) in New Taipei City (新北市), Taoyuan and Hsinchu counties and Hsinchu City, and on May 23 in Greater Taichung, northern Changhua County, Greater Tainan and Greater Kaohsiung.
For its part, the Feicuei Reservoir in Sindian (新店), New Taipei City, which mainly supplies water to the greater Taipei area, was also substantially replenished, authorities said.
The water level in the reservoir rose to the 158.54m mark yesterday, from 154.8m on Thursday last week when the rains began, the reservoir administration said.
The reservoir collected 24.61 million cubic meters of water over the five-day period, which brought its volume to 236.62 million cubic meters, up from 208.01 million cubic meters on Thursday last week.
“It is estimated that the added volume will provide an extra 15 days of water supply to the greater Taipei area,” an official said.
Hwang said that although the second stage was postponed, the first stage imposed in eight counties and cities earlier this month would continue. The first stage of restrictions included reduced water pressure from 11pm to 5am and restricted water for irrigation.
“According to weather forecasts, the rain will continue until May 20 and will drop afterward,” Hwang said. “So we are still conservative in our estimates of how much of the water supplies will be replenished.”
“If there is sufficient rain by then, the ministry will evaluate whether to postpone the measure to June,” he said.
The Water Resources Agency said accumulation in the Shihmen Reservoir during the past few days was still insufficient to meet demand as the first rice harvest approaches.
The agency estimates water demand will rise rapidly as the second season of rice crops in the nation’s south begins early next month. As a result, it has decided to postpone irrigation by two weeks.
Asked about water wasted because of leakage in household water pipelines, agency Director-General Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said: “Indeed, it is a problem in many older apartments.”
Yang said the law only gave Taiwan Water Corp the authority to fix water leakages in the outer pipelines and that it cannot fix the inner pipelines without permission from a building’s occupants.
Yang said meetings would be held in coming months to discuss a possible solution to the problem.
Statistics from the agency showed 20.5 percent of tap water pipes around the country had a leakage problem last year that meant as much as 800 million tonnes of water were likely wasted, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday.
The leakage translated to two-and-a-half months of tap water consumption for Taiwanese, it said.
The ministry said it was mulling amendments to the Tap Water Act (自來水法) to boost water conservation by allowing Taiwan Water Corp to oblige residents to pay for pipe maintenance.