Sun, Mar 24, 2013 - Page 3 News List

Jiang criticized for typhoon comments as shortages bite

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) drew fire at a legislative session on Friday for saying he hoped typhoons would bring rains to drought-hit Taiwan.

During the question-and-answer session at the legislature on Friday, Jiang said he hoped the typhoon season would begin early when he was questioned by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lu Shiow-yen (盧秀燕) about the increasing scarcity of water.

Lu asked Jiang to describe the severity of the water shortages on a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the most serious, and the premier said that the current severity is between seven and eight.

The water levels in 10 of the nation’s main reservoirs are about one-tenth of the levels seen in the past few years.

The rainfall in the catchment areas of Shihmen Reservoir and Tsengwen Reservoir in the first three months of the year hit their second-lowest and lowest marks respectively, Jiang said.

Jiang said that regrettably, he hoped for early typhoons.

When Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ting-fei (陳亭妃) took the podium to ask her questions, she accused the government of failing to come up with solutions to deal with the growing threat of water shortages and instead resorting to wishing for typhoons.

“It is ridiculous,” Chen said.

In his defense, Jiang said that typhoons are a principal source of the nation’s water supply and also suggested other measures to combat water shortages, such as water conservation.

In response to media inquiries, Jiang yesterday said the government has prepared contingent measures to help the nation deal with water shortages.

They include encouraging people to reduce daily water consumption, introducing water rationing measures for irrigation, and controlling the amount of water used by car washes and swimming pools, Jiang said.

National Cheng Kung University principal Hwung Hwung-hweng(黃煌輝) yesterday dismissed what Jiang had said as a joke.

With sea levels rising by an average of 0.6cm to 0.8cm, Taiwan would only see more water-related disasters in the future, he said, adding that a responsible government should start planning in advance and should prepare for both floods and droughts so that the public can live in a safe environment.

Jiang’s response was laughable because a typhoon would not come simply because one willed it, he said, saying the government should instead focus more on the management of water resources.

A responsible government should function in a way that there would still be water for use and drinking during a drought, and also deal with any problems that might have to do with flooding before a flood has hit, Hwung added.

Additional reporting by Meng Ching-tzu

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