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Heavy rains delay second-phase water rationing

2011/05/16 19:45:02

Taipei, May 16 (CNA) A plan to impose a second stage of waterrationing in select areas of western Taiwan by the end of May hasbeen postponed following the heavy rains of recent days, the Ministryof Economic Affairs (MOEA) said Monday.

Taiwan's reservoirs have collected around 95 million cubic metersof water over the past three days, slightly easing drought conditionsand delaying "phase two" water rationing originally scheduled for May18 and May 23, Deputy Economics Minister Hwang Jung-chiou said at apress conference.

The MOEA will wait to decide on whether to impose water rationingin June based on the volume of precipitation received this week,Hwang said, because the Central Weather Bureau has forecast moreheavy rain before May 20.

"If the water levels at reservoirs in northern Taiwan rise byover 100 millimeters in the coming days, water for irrigationpurposes in areas near the reservoirs will not be restricted, " Hwangsaid. "We're optimistic about the situation."

At the Shihmen Reservoir in Taoyuan County, one of the biggestsources of potable water in northern Taiwan, water reserves haverisen from 45 million cubic meters three days ago to 51 million cubicmeters on Monday, Hwang said.

But he cautioned that it was still far below the 140 millioncubic meters averaged over the past few years.

Southern Taiwan, which has collected an additional 17 millioncubic meters of water since last Friday, still faces shortages duringthe peak rice planting season from June to November if it does notreceive more rainfall, the agency said.

The MOEA has already asked farmers' associations to put offplanting June rice for two weeks because of the ongoing watershortage in the areas.

The MOEA decided on May 9 that in the absence of significantprecipitation, the government would impose phase two water rationingmeasures on May 18 in Taoyuan County, Hsinchu City, Hsinchu County,and Linkou district in New Taipei City.

The ministry also planned to introduce phase two water rationingmeasures beginning May 23 in Miaoli and Changhua counties, and inTaichung, Tainan and Kaohsiung cities.

Under second-phase water rationing, water supplies for fountainsand other non-essential uses such as cleaning streets, ditches andbuilding exteriors are cut off.

In addition, the supplies for swimming pools, car washes, saunasand operations that use 1,000 cubic meters or more of water per monthwill be cut by 20 percent. Supplies for industrial users will bereduced by 5 percent.

Under phase one water rationing measures that were imposed oncities and counties around Taiwan on a staggered basis in March,April and early May, water pressure is reduced from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.and the supply of water for irrigation purposes is restricted.

(By Jeffrey Wu)