First-stage water rationing is to begin in Greater Tainan today because of low rainfall in the southern city’s reservoir catchment areas this year, the Water Resources Agency (WRA) said on Tuesday.
The water level in Nanhua Reservoir (南化水庫) has dropped to 33 million tonnes — the lowest level since the reservoir was built — as daily rainfall figures have not exceeded 10mm in the catchment area so far this year, the agency said.
Starting today, water pressure in the city is to be reduced at night — from 11pm to 5am — in the first phase of water rationing, the agency said.
The measure is expected to have little impact on the public or industries, WRA Deputy Director-General Tien Chiao-ling (田巧玲) said.
Meanwhile, in Chiayi, the water level in Tsengwen Reservoir (曾文水庫) is below normal, but not at a level that requires water rationing, agency data showed.
The southern regions have not benefited from weather fronts this year and forecasts for the plum rain season in May are not very optimistic, Tien said.
At this point, it is not known if or when further water rationing will be required in the area, he added.
In related news, the days of low-cost water may soon be over as the Ministry of Economic Affairs plans to charge industrial businesses that are found to be wasteful.
Details are still sketchy, but the proposed “water consumption fee” aims to encourage better use of resources. It would not be targeted at factories that use the most water, but those that are inefficient.
The proposal is to set a ceiling for each plant, with the rate doubling for any usage that exceeds that volume.
Currently, the industrial water rate is NT$11 per cubic meter, the same as it has been for the past 20 years.
In addition to the regulation that would oblige industrial companies to publish their “water footprints,” all new buildings would be required to install water conservation equipment, according to the proposal.
Taiwan would not be the first nation to impose a surcharge on heavy users of water. Denmark, the Netherlands, Russia, Germany, Singapore and some cities in China have some kind of water tax or surcharge in effect.
The proposal would be incorporated into the Tap Water Act (自來水法) in the form of an entirely new section dedicated to water conservation. The revised law is expected to take effect next year or in 2016 at the earliest.
For older buildings, the government is considering offering subsidies for occupants to attach water-saving devices to their washing machines and toilets.
The water surcharge would not apply to households, although it is hoped residential conservation measures could also help cut daily usage.