Members of a Control Yuan committee on Friday passed a motion urging the Executive Yuan and the Ministry of Economic Affairs to take measures to stop wastage of the nation’s water sources in light of last year’s water shortage.
Water sources dwindled across the nation from January to June last year due to reduced rainfall in the fall and winter of 2014.
A major cause of waste is leaking tap water lines, which leak about 1 billion tonnes of water per year, committee members Yang Mei-ling (楊美鈴), Chen Hsiao-hung (陳小紅) and Chen Ching-tsai (陳慶財) said.
Eighty percent of the pipelines overseen by Taiwan Water Corp have exceeded their lifespans and more than 16 percent of the pipelines were found to be leaking in inspections conducted last year, a committee report said, adding that in Tokyo, only 3 percent of tap water pipes were found to be leaking.
The loss incurred by leaks in Taiwan’s tap water pipes each year is enough to fill the Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫) two-and-a-half times, the report added.
At the rate the nation is upgrading its tap water pipes — 1 percent per year — it would take 100 years for it to complete the process, the report said, adding that the ministry’s policy of cutting water prices caused a spike in water consumption.
Another source of waste is agricultural water transport, in which 5 billion tonnes of water is lost each year, the report said.
The Council of Agriculture has only improved 4,900km of agricultural pipelines, waterways and irrigation ditches from 2010 to last year, which means it would take 200 years for the council to stop water loss, the report said.
The report said that the shortage of funds reported by Taiwan Water is caused by its low water prices, adding that the prices go against international trends.
In 2014, the average expenditure on water in Taiwan was 0.43 percent of an average person’s income, far lower than the WHO’s accepted range of 2 to 4 percent, the report said, adding that the situation is benefiting those who use more water, causing inequality in society.
The report said the ministry’s failure to follow the Water Supply Act (自來水法) caused water conservation to be far more expensive than water consumption.
The price for conserving 1 tonne of water is NT$49.76, which far exceeds the average price of water at NT$8.19 per tonne, the report said, referring to excessive nutrient levels, which stimulate aquatic plant life.
After examining last year’s water quality test results, the committee found severe cases of eutrophication at water reservoirs across the nation.
More than 35 reservoirs exhibited eutrophication and 12 reservoirs exhibited mesotrophication, while only the Feitsui Reservoir (翡翠水庫) was designated as oligotrophic, the report said.
Mesotrophic waters have a moderate amount of nutrients, encouraging the growth of submerged aquatic plants, while oligotrophic waters are clear and have higher quality.
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