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Archive for April 8th, 2015

Drought Paralyzes Taiwan

Posted by feww on April 8, 2015

Taiwan rations water to 1.2 million households amid worsening drought

One of the driest years on record has depleted Tai­wan’s reservoirs aggravating the water quality problem, forcing cutbacks in irrigation and prompting the authorities to begin water rationing to about 1.2 million households across northern Taiwan, said a government website.

Authorities have begun cutting off water supplies for two days each week in several cities north of the country.

“The water supply situation is urgent as Taiwan had the lowest rainfall last autumn and winter since 1947,” said the authorities.

“We may have delayed or no monsoon rains at all [this year.] We urge the public to co-operate during this difficult time.”

The island nation’s reservoirs have fallen to below 24  percent of capacity, “and lit­tle water will be available for ir­rigation until next June, according to estimates of the Water Resource Planning Commission under the Economics Ministry.”

“The use of water for irrigation was suspended Dec. 1 by the Pro­vincial Reconstruction Depart­ment. It directed farmers to let land lie fallow this spring rather than endanger the supply of water for household use. Farmers will be compensated for letting more than 75,000 hectares of farmland stay idle,” said the report.

Although Taiwan [pop. 24 million] “enjoys an oceanic and subtropical monsoon climate and receives an average annual rainfall of 90 billion cubic meters,” or 2.6 times the global average [total land area: 36,190 km²,] its annual rain per capita is only one-sixth of the world’s average due to its high population density.

[“About 50 bil­lion cubic meters of rain goes directly to the ocean, 20 billion evap­orates and 4 billion soaks into the ground. Only about 20 billion cu­bic meters is available for use, from reservoirs, rivers, and ac­cessible ground water supplies.”]

Taiwan consumed about 17.6 billion cubic meters of water in 1991: About 13.6 billion for  farming, 2.5 billion for households and 1.5 billion for industry.

However, only 20 percent of Taiwan’s water meets the regulatory standard, said the government.

“A third of its 50 rivers and tributaries are seriously polluted, according to a report by the 1,322 water quality observation centers across the island. Every day nearly 2,800 tons of wastewater from farms, factories and households follows its course to the rivers.”

Southern Taiwan, which is plagued by “heavy-metal and chemical industries,” is also facing acute water shortages, as a result of which both the “aquacultural and industrial sec­tors” are pumping underground wa­ter excessively, “causing the ground to sink,” said the report.

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