Sat, Mar 21, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Public calls for measures to tackle severe water shortage

SHORTSIGHTED:Instead of just water rationing, the government should consider other measures, such as tapping into subsurface water resources, groups said

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

A sculpture of a pile of nine frogs on a mud bank in Nantou County’s Sun Moon Lake, used to observe how full or empty the lake is, is pictured yesterday with no water in sight, as the nation continues to suffer from its severest drought in 67 years.

Photo: Liu Pin-chuan, Taipei Times

As the nation continues to slide into a severe water shortage, environmental protection groups and legislators yesterday called for measures to improve reservoirs’ water utilization efficiency and to tap subsurface flow, which they said is an abundant resource in Taiwan.

Presenting data published by the Central Weather Bureau, Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union director Jennifer Nien (粘麗玉) told a news conference in Taipei that local precipitation has been steadily decreasing since 2012.

However, instead of addressing the fundamental issues about utilizing the nation’s water resources, the government only resorts to water rationing, with phase-three restrictions scheduled to be implemented in New Taipei City’s Linkou (林口), Banciao (板橋) and Sinjhuang (新莊) districts, as well as Taoyuan.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said that the nation’s subsurface water amounts to about 4 billion tonnes annually, which is enough to fill a reservoir two times over, but the government has not done enough to develop the resource.

Using as an example the Erfeng Ditch (二峰圳) in Pingtung County, built in 1912 during the Japanese colonial era, Tien said the ditch, which pumps subsurface water, is still operational and provides an average of 82,000 tonnes of water for agricultural use. She urged local governments to develop plans to utilize subsurface water.

Taiwan Environmental Protection Union secretary-general Chen Bing-heng (陳秉亨) said that the government should consider raising water prices during the winter when it is dry, just as it raises electricity prices during the summer, adding that doing so would motivate the public to conserve water.

“The government need not worry about people complaining about higher water bills, because through the water conserved, the price hikes can be offset,” Chen said.

He said that, as a result of pipeline leakage, 18 percent of water distributed from reservoirs nationwide leaks out, exacerbating the water shortage issue.

Referencing a policy assessment report proposed by the Water Resources Agency, Housewives for Health South Division head Chiu Chun-hua (邱春華) criticized the agency’s proposal to ease restrictions on annual water consumption by high-technology industries, such as chip manufacturers, from 1.4 billion tonnes to 31 billion tonnes in 2021, despite meteorologists forecasting more frequent water shortages for Taiwan in the years to come.

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