No hotel near reservoir, activists urge

WATER, WATER EVERYWHERE::Hotels near protected water sources cannot have more than 20 rooms, but a hotel on Kinmen, where water is scarce, would have 264

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Jun 26, 2013 - Page 4

Members of the Wuchiang River Protection Union from Kinmen held a demonstration in front of the Control Yuan in Taipei yesterday and filed a complaint with the government watchdog asking it to investigate and stop the construction of a hotel next to the Taihu Reservoir, an important water source for the outlying island.

The group’s representative, Syril Hung (洪篤欽), said the Taihu Reservoir is an important water source for Kinhu Township (金湖) and has been determined to be a drinking water source quality protection area under the Drinking Water Management Act (飲用水管理條例).

Amid water shortages on the island, existing water resources should be protected, in addition to developing new sources, he said.

However, a 50-year build-operate-transfer (BOT) agreement with the Kinmen County Government signed in 2009 has allowed Ever Rich DFS Corp (昇恆昌) to build a hotel next to the Taihu Reservoir, he said.

The protesters said they are concerned that the project would affect not only the already limited quantity of water on Kinmen, but that waste water from the hotel may also damage the reservoir’s water quality.

Citing the Drinking Water Management Act, a member of the group surnamed Chang (張) said that hotels located near water source protection areas may only provide fewer than 20 rooms and are banned from any water polluting behavior.

“However, the planned hotel is only about 40m from the reservoir and has 264 rooms. That’s about 13 times the limit,” she said.

She said the group had asked the local environmental protection bureau to reveal the project’s wastewater treatment plan last month, but that was refused on the grounds that the plan is part of the developer’s assets and cannot be revealed.

“The Taihu Reservoir is the largest water source in the area and it has already been found to have the most serious eutrophication problem among Taiwan’s reservoirs, so we are worried that the project will have further negative effects on the area’s water supply and water quality,” she said.

Eutrophication is a process by which a body of water accumulates a high concentration of plant nutrients, such as phosphates and nitrates, promoting excessive growth of algae.

“BOT projects should benefit the public, yet [in this case,] while the hotel may attract tourists, it may also damage the public interest by demanding too much of the already scarce water supply on the island,” Hung said, urging the Control Yuan to look into the matter.