A water deal signed with China will help stabilize water supply on Kinmen and does not pose a national security risk, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said yesterday.
“In terms of national security, there are no concerns,” Yang said in response to reporters’ questions about the landmark agreement to channel water from China’s Fujian Province to Kinmen to meet its water needs.
The pact, drawn up after nearly 20 years of negotiation, was signed yesterday between Kinmen County Waterworks Director Weng Wen-kuei (翁文貴) and Fujian Water Supply Co chairman Zhu Jinliang (朱金良) in Kinmen, witnessed by Kinmen County Commissioner Chen Fu-hai (陳福海) and Fujian Provincial Governor Su Shulin (蘇樹林).
Shu traveled from Xiamen to Kinmen by ferry earlier in the day for the signing ceremony, which he described as a “landmark” in the development of cross-strait relations.
“This is an important breakthrough for cross-strait collaboration on the needs of people’s livelihoods. It has great historic significance for the path toward peaceful development between Taiwan and China,” Chen said.
Commenting on the deal, under which an undersea pipeline is to be built to connect reservoirs in Kinmen and Fujian, Yang said Kinmen has been trying to transport water from China for nearly two decades and that he expects the agreement to facilitate the water supply and stabilize water quality in the outlying county.
Many issues have been discussed during the lengthy talks to settle concerns over the stability of the water supply, water quality and the safety of water transportation, Yang said.
Asked about concern over potential water disruptions from China, Yang said that Kinmen currently relies on the county itself for all its water supply, so it would always have water even if supply from Fujian is halted because of accidents.
Local supply should be able to meet “at least 70 percent of the demand,” he said.
In addition, water from Fujian’s Longhu Reservoir is to be tested for safety before shipment and more tests are to be conducted in Kinmen to ensure that the water meets Taiwan’s tap water quality standards before being delivered to households, Yang said.
The water deal, valued at NT$1.35 billion (US$43.07 million), is a far cry from Cold War-era hostilities that saw Kinmen endure shelling by China that lasted until the late 1970s.
According to Kinmen’s water statistics, the island group consumes about 42,000 tonnes per day, with agriculture accounting for 15,000 tonnes.
With its primary source in groundwater only covering 8,000 tonnes per day and 17,000 tonnes coming from reservoirs, supplies for Kinmen’s population of just under 130,000 are barely enough during droughts and dry seasons.
An extrapolation of current population trends and economic growth projects a water shortfall of 20,000 tonne per day by the end of the year if the deal did not go through.
Under the water purchase deal, 15,000 tonnes of water per day is to be delivered to Kinmen to begin with, increasing over time to 34,000 tonnes per day after the 10th year of the agreement.
The agreement stipulates that Taiwan is to build an undersea pipeline from Kinmen to the Chinese coast, with China constructing the extension leading to Longhu Reservoir. In total, the water pipeline will be 27.67km long, with Taiwan in charge of the construction of a 16.67km section.
Construction is expected to be completed by the end of next year at the earliest.
Yang said that once the water arrives, it would help cut water costs in Kinmen by NT$12 to NT$13 per 1,000 liters.
Tap water currently costs NT$58.60 per 1,000 liters — far higher than the NT$11 on Taiwan proper.
Fujian is to sell water to Kinmen for NT$9.86 per 1,000 liters, which should allow a cut in water costs in Kinmen, Yang said.
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