Taiwan and China have agreed to provide fresh water from the southeastern Chinese city of Jinjiang to Kinmen, to solve a looming water shortage that is expected to damage the county’s economy.
The set of islands that make up Kinmen County is closer to China than Taiwan proper.
A delegation of water and county officials, led by Kinmen County Deputy Commissioner Wu You-qin (吳友欽), held talks with their Chinese counterparts in China late last month.
They agreed to channel water from a reservoir in Jinjiang to Kinmen via an undersea pipe.
A water crisis is looming in Kinmen, which is currently drawing an excess of 8,000 tonnes of ground water every day.
Water from local reservoirs is barely enough to meet demand during the dry season.
Kinmen County Waterworks says that the county is expected to be plagued by a shortfall of 20,000 tonnes of water every day by 2016.
The shortage is expected to deal a blow to the county’s economic lifeline — Kinmen Kaoliang Liquor Inc, Wu said on Monday.
The county has studied various possible solutions to the impending water shortage, Wu said.
Since seawater desalination is too costly, the county decided that buying water from China is the most feasible solution, he said.
Taiwan and China agreed to cooperate in solving Kinmen’s water shortage at bilateral high-level talks in June, during which negotiators from both sides also signed a service trade pact.
Under the plan, a 16.7km undersea pipe will be built that will carry water from Shanmei Reservoir in Jinjiang to Kinmen’s coastal area.
However, the two sides have yet to decide when work on the pipe will begin.
After the pipe is completed, Taiwan proposed importing 15,000 tonnes of water from China daily in the initial stage. The amount will be increased to 20,000 tonnes a day and later to a maximum of 30,000 tonnes, Wu said.
A 300m pipe will be constructed to transport water inland to a water treatment plant on the island.
Wu dismissed concerns that Kinmen would become dependent on China for all of its water needs, saying that Taiwan has a policy that requires Kinmen to supply 60 percent of its own water needs and that the county will continue to explore other sources of water supply.
Taiwan and China will discuss matters related to construction in the next meetings, Wu said without giving details on when and where the meetings will take place.