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Civic group protests against shrunk water quality protection areas

2012/06/13 20:54:32

Taipei, June 13 (CNA) A civic group protested Wednesday against plans by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) to introduce changes to drinking water quality protection areas, saying that the changes will shrink the protected areas.

The Taiwan Water Resources Protection Union staged the protest in front of the EPA headquarters, demanding that protection of water quality areas should cover the whole water catchment areas. They were protesting ahead of an EPA meeting to review environmental assessment reports of the changes to be introduced to the drinking water quality protection areas.

The union's spokeswoman, Chen Chiao-hwa, said there are many mistakes in the EPA's environmental assessment report and charged that some of the changes will shrink the water quality protection zones, giving local governments carte blanche to launch land development projects near water catchment areas.

A drinking water quality protection plan proposed by the EPA in 1998 is already on a much smaller than a water quality protection area plan formulated by the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) in the 1970s,Chen pointed out.

For instance, the water quality protection area of the Kaoping River in southern Taiwan covers 289,600 hectares under the MOEA's plan, but only 175,450 hectares according to the EPA's policy, Chen said.

The union said the EPA's reduced protection area is the main cause behind the deteriorating water quality in the Kaoping River and has led to inappropriate industrial development near water sources that should be protected.

All water sources, including water above ground and underground, should be incorporated into the drinking water quality protection areas, and protection of these valuable water sources should be enforced in order to ensure sustainable water resource targets, said Chen.

Taiwan's water source safety is already in the danger zone and it is unbelievable that the administration would propose an environmental assessment plan that would have an even greater negative effect on water resources, Chen added.

(By Zoe Wei and C.J. Lin)