Fri, Jan 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

NT$500m budgeted to fight river dust

By Lin Kuo-hsien  /  Staff reporter

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) has budgeted NT$500 million (US$16.9 million) to mitigate dust pollution in the Jhuoshuei River (濁水溪) in Yunlin County.

The Jhuoshuei River — “muddy water river” in Chinese — is the nation’s longest. It springs from the mountains in Nantou County and runs westward through Changhua, Yunlin and Chiayi counties.

Dust from the Jhuoshei’s river bed is one of the major air pollutants in the nation’s central regions, especially when the river dries up during wintertime.

The EPA is to work with the Water Resources Agency to reduce the dust pollution and the agencies’ starting point is increasing the naked river bed’s coverage by water or plants, EPA Minister Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) said on Monday.

It is possible that plant seeds will be blown away by the wind, but such attempts would be worthwhile even if only one in 10 succeeds in taking root, Lee said.

The EPA will also work with the Soil and Water Conservation Bureau to reduce the amount of sand carried from the mountains upstream, he said.

Meanwhile, the Water Resources Agency on Monday held a public meeting to explain its regulations concerning the Jiji Dam (集集攔河堰) in Nantou, but several environmentalists held a news conference before the meeting to demand that the agency demolish the dam.

Completed in 2001, the dam was built to serve Formosa Plastics Group’s (FPG) naphtha cracker in Yunlin’s Mailiao Township (麥寮), given that an exclusive water pipe extends from the dam to the complex, Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union director Jennifer Nien (粘麗玉) said.

After the dam’s completion, residents in downstream Yunlin and Changhua counties have had to grapple with water shortages and dust pollution from the river bed, Nien said.

FPG has been reluctant to develop sea water desalination facilities because it thinks it can rely on clean water from the dam, Changhua County Green Resources and Culture Society chairperson Wu Li-hui (吳麗慧) said.

The company should invest in its own source of water instead of using clean water from the dam and forcing local residents to pump groundwater, Wu said.

Asked to comment on the environmentalists’ demand, Lee said that more professional evaluations would need to be collected before demolishing the dam.

About 70 percent of the dam’s water is used for agriculture, while 20 percent goes to industry and 10 percent is for residential use, Lee said.

Improving management of the water supply is the responsibility of the Water Resources Agency, he added.

Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan

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