Taipei, May 17 (CNA) The threat of water shortages in Taiwan is"thousands of times more serious" than that of radiation leaks ortoxic waste from petrochemical plants, the chairman of the ExecutiveYuan's Public Construction Commission said Tuesday.
Lee Hong-yuan said at a water control seminar held by the YuChi-Chung Cultural and Educational Foundation that water resourcemanagement in Taiwan is poor, as the government focuses on buildingmore reservoirs to obtain water in the short term instead ofaddressing a sustainable and balanced development plan for renewableresources.
According to the foundation, more than 75 percent of Taiwan'sannual collected rainfall of 90 billion tons evaporates in storage oris lost in the supply process.
Lee said the water shortage problems can be largely attributed toincreasing reservoir sedimentation and poorly maintained undergroundpipelines.
Still another portion of the water is used carelessly at theconsumers' end, Lee said, adding that this is due to the low cost ofwater.
According to a 2004 survey by the Taiwan Water Corp., the waterrate in Taiwan is NT$10.72 (US$0.37) per cubic meter, compared withNT$65 in Japan and NT$19.3 in the United States.
Lee urged the establishment of cross-department coordinationamong the Water Resources Agency, the Council of Agriculture and theConstruction and Planning Agency to allocate water management budgetmore efficiently as well as set a reasonable price for water.
Lee's comments came in the wake of water shortages that haveprompted water use restrictions in several areas.
Addressing recent protests staged by local environmentalistsagainst Taiwan's development of nuclear power and petrochemicalindustries, Lee said similar action needs to be taken to push thegovernment to tackle the water issue.
"We can't expect the rain to fall every time we find ourselvesshort of water, " Lee said. "We need a policy that has vision."
(By Lee Hsin-Yin)