Tropical Storm Atsani was the only storm this year for which the Central Weather Bureau issued a land warning. Since 1949, the bureau has issued typhoon warnings for only 17 typhoons and tropical storms in November, which is an average of one warning every four years.
Everyone was hoping that Atsani would replenish the water levels of reservoirs in central and southern Taiwan, but the storm did not live up to expectations.
The Water Resources Agency used land-based cloud seeding in an attempt to increase rainfall over reservoirs, but it did not use airborne cloud seeding, which is more effective.
This was because the government did not dispatch transport planes, due to unpredictable risks associated with the storm.
Taiwan has experienced abnormal weather this year, causing water resources to diminish rapidly. As a result, reservoirs in central and southern areas, which are normally full or close to full in October, are actually less than one-third full.
For example, Taiwan’s largest reservoir — Zengwen Reservoir (曾文水庫) in Chiayi County — is at only 23 percent of its capacity, compared with 77 percent at the same time last year and 78 percent the year before.
The government has reduced or cut off water supplies for the second rice crop and diverted it for household and industrial use, but if no more tropical storms or typhoons visit Taiwan before the end of this year, Taiwanese will somehow have to get through the four months before next year’s spring and summer rains arrive. Everyone in Taiwan had better wake up to the threat of a worsening drought.
The heavens only give people so much water, even at the best of times, so everyone must comply with national water resource allocations by using water sparingly.
It is hard to go from extravagance to frugality, so everyone in Taiwan should to try hard to reduce unnecessary use of water. Let us revive the Taiwanese tradition of frugality and join hands to get through this drought together.
Lai Ming-huang holds a doctorate in engineering from National Cheng Kung University and is a former secretary-general of the Chiayi City Government.
Translated by Julian Clegg
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