The debate over murky tap water seen in Taipei and New Taipei City following Typhoon Soudelor continued yesterday as Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) accused the Taipei City Government of negligence in its emergency response measures to prevent turbid water from being supplied.
Yang asked why the city government supplied water from the Nanshih River (南勢溪), when clean water in the Feitsui Reservoir tapped from the Beishih River (北勢溪) was available.
“Why did the Taipei City Government supply large quantities of turbid water to users? Was it because it did not know about the poor water quality?” Yang asked. “The Taipei Water Department should conduct a review of the situation.”
Yang’s questions came after Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) on Monday said that the central government should take responsibility for the contaminated water, as its soil and upstream water conservation efforts were poorly implemented.
Taipei Water Department Commissioner Chen Chin-hsiang (陳錦祥) said Yang had not fully grasped the mechanism behind water supplies in the Greater Taipei area.
“If there had been clean water readily available at the Feitsui Reservoir, why would I not have used it?” he said.
He said that the Beishih River runs into the Nanshih River in an area close to the Kuei-shan Power Plant, where the two rivers become the Sindian River (新店溪) in New Taipei City’s Sindian District.
He said water levels downstream of that point had already reached capacity on Saturday, and if water from Feitsui Reservoir had been released, it would have flooded nearby Guangsin (廣興).
If water had been released from the Feitsui Reservoir, it would have reached the Nanshih River, which was running high due to the heavy rainfall, before it could reach water purification plants, which would have defeated the purpose of the method proposed by Yang, he said.
It was “regrettable” that Yang, as a high-ranking government official, made the remarks, Chen said.
He also dismissed criticism leveled at the department by National Taiwan University Department of Sustainable Engineering professor Ben Huang (黃宏斌), who said the agency should have “separated” water from the two rivers, saying Huang’s concept was not feasible.
Separately, Ko called the department’s handling of water supplies after Typhoon Soudelor an “expedient strategy” aimed at mitigating losses.
He said that if the department had fully stopped water supplies, only to resume them later, the sudden increase in pressure could have damaged pipes, resulting in greater losses.
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