Even as the nation experienced its worst drought in 56 years, Taiwanese used more water than ever last year, consuming 1.7 percent more than in 2019, or about 289 liters per person per day, a Water Resources Agency (WRA) official said.
As Taiwan was not hit directly by a typhoon last year, reservoirs have received less inflow than during the last significant drought five years ago, they said.
In 2015, rain was scarce over the nine-month dry season, but the current effort to control water usage has been in effect continuously since September 2019, the official said.
If the dry spell lasts until the rainy season starts in May, it would be 19 months of drought, the longest in 20 years, they said.
Despite this, Taiwanese continued to increase their domestic water consumption, using 289 liters per person daily, agency statistics showed.
This compares with 284 liters used in 2019, an increase of 1.7 percent, it showed.
Domestic consumption includes all non-agricultural and industrial uses of water in households, restaurants and stores.
Agriculture consistently uses the most water at more than 70 percent of the nation’s total consumption — the reason farms are often the first target of water controls — followed by domestic users at 17 to 19 percent and industry at about 9 percent.
Domestic water consumption rose by about 57 million tonnes last year to a total of 2.36 billion tonnes, 12 times the maximum capacity of Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫) in Taoyuan, statistics showed.
Consumption might have risen due to increased hand washing and sanitization practices during the COVID-19 pandemic, even as tourist numbers dropped, the official said.
Domestic water use has trended upward over the past 20 years.
In 2002, domestic use decreased by 0.7 percent due to a dry spell, but the following year recovered by more than 1 percent, statistics showed.
This trend continued until 2015, when use decreased slightly by 1 liter per person per day, it showed.
While average daily water use has over the period remained above 270 liters, last year marked the first time that the figure climbed to close to 290 liters.
Regional use also showed significant variation, with residents of Taipei, New Taipei City and Hsinchu being the biggest consumers at more than 300 liters daily, statistics showed.
To put that figure into perspective, 300 liters is equivalent to about 17 watercooler jugs.
People in Taipei on average used 338 liters, 17 percent more than the national average, while New Taipei City residents used 312 liters and Hsinchu residents used 317 liters, it showed.
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