Representatives from several environmental organizations yesterday morning protested in front of the New Taipei City (新北市) Government building, calling for an end to the construction of the Xiulang Reservoir (秀朗攔河堰) on the Sindian River (新店溪) because it would cause irreversible damage to the area’s ecosystem.
The Sindian River Basin Protection Alliance said the city government would spend about NT$350 million (US$11.47 million) constructing the 2.5m high reservoir 100m downstream from Xiulang Bridge, which would damage the river’s natural ecology with artificial concrete.
Organizer of the protest, alliance convener Chen Chien-Chih (陳建志), said the groups had attempted to discuss the risks of the reservoir with city officials several times, but the government never provided them with the results of an evaluation of the reservoir’s possible recreational and environmental benefits.
Jenner Lin (林金保), secretary-general of the Society of Wilderness, said other countries were promoting the idea of removing reservoirs to revive the natural ecosystem along rivers.
However, construction of the Xiulang Reservoir would cost about NT$350 million in taxpayers’ money, with additional millions for annual maintenance, when it harms the natural environment and there is not a desperate need for water acquisition, Lin said.
Taiwan Water Watch Alliance committee member Liang Yin-min (梁蔭民) said he was worried that the reservoir would lead to dead water in some parts of the river, causing non-native fish species, such as tilapia or the snakehead murrel (channa striata) to reproduce rapidly in such areas.
Taiwan Birdwatchers Group chairperson Ho Yi-shen (何一先) said in a written statement to the alliance that if the current in the river became too slow, the amount of dissolved oxygen would be reduced, leading to poor water quality and a breeding ground for bacteria.
For example, he said in the past there were instances at the Hwa-Jiang Wild Duck Nature Park when water the quality deteriorated and caused the deaths of hundreds of migratory ducks because they became infected with clostridium botulinum bacteria.
The protesters urged the city government to re-evaluate the recreational and ecological benefits of the reservior, to allow the public to participate in the decision-making process and to forbid the construction before a thorough evaluation of the environmental impact was completed.
The city’s Water Resources Department chief secretary, Chen Shi-hui (諶錫輝), received a petition from the protesters and said that the city government would continue to negotiate with civic groups and specialists about the issue.
Chen added the city would not begin construction of the reservoir before reaching a further consensus.
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