The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) yesterday reported the results of its restoration of six urban rivers in metropolitan areas, as part of an effort to improve the living environment of about 1.62 million people.
The administration’s Department of Water Quality Protection began the second phase of its Rivers and Oceans Water Quality Improvement Plan in 2008 on Keelung’s Tianliao River (田寮河), New Taipei City’s (新北市) Chung-Kang drainage channel (中港大排), Pingtung County’s Wannian River (萬年溪), Greater Taichung’s Liouchuan (柳川), Taoyuan County’s Laojie River (老街溪) and Greater Kaohsiung’s Fengshan River (鳳山溪).
Department section chief Chiou Ren-jie (邱仁杰) said the rivers, which run through highly populated metropolitan areas, have become highly polluted by domestic sewage, necessitating many parts of the rivers to be covered with cement to prevent them giving off a foul smell.
Department of Water Quality Protection Director-General Hsu Yung-hsing (許永興) said after nearly five years, mainly using three methods of sewage interception, introducing clean water and revitalizing urban waterfronts by designing accessible waterfront spaces, the restoration work on 20.7km of sections of the six rivers had been completed this year.
Following the restoration project, about 242,800 tonnes of water are treated every day, with an estimated 19,397kg of pollutants removed from the six rivers each day, Hsu said.
Chiou said the water quality of the Wannian River and the Chung-Kang drainage channel now meet the required quality of water accessible to the public and many previously cement-covered sections of the rivers have been opened up.
However, the department cautioned that accessible water quality does not mean the water is now suitable for people to bathe in.
Starting last year, the administration set aside a budget of NT$5.9 billion (US$197.5 million) to start another water quality improvement project, aimed at improving the water quality of at least one river in every county (excluding the outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu), which is scheduled to be completed by 2017.
Hsu said that in addition to the restoration work on urban rivers, the administration is also continuing with other water quality improvement projects in 11 crucial rivers nationwide, including the Tamsui River (淡水河), the Erjen River (二仁溪) and the Agongdian River (阿公店溪).