Taipei may adopt stricter rationing

The China Post staff

The Taipei City Government (TCG) will be forced to adopt a stricter water rationing plan of suspending water supply for two days per week around July 17 as the water level at Feitsui Reservoir fell to an all-time low of 119.07 meters at 7 p.m. yesterday. Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, Deputy Mayor Ou Chin-der, Director Tsai Hui-shen of the Taipei Water Department and Feitsui Reservoir Administration Bureau chief Kuo Ray-hwa conducted the latest evaluation of the water supply situation in the evening. They said that the afternoon rainfall in the catchment area for Feitsui Reservoir was only 2.4 millimeters, with the water level in the dam falling to 119.07 meters. The water level could fall to 114 meters on July 17. The TCG would then have to impose a more stringent water rationing scheme of stopping water supply for two days after every five days for the five zones in the city on a rotational basis. Deputy Mayor Ou said the current water rationing system of suspending supply for one day after six days could be maintained until the end of July if sufficient rainfall occurs within the next two weeks. Ou, who leads the city’s anti-drought task force, pointed out that the next few days will be the most critical period for determining whether stricter measures will be adopted. If the typhoon from the Philippines fails to dump heavy rains in northern Taiwan over the next two days, the water level at Feitsui Reservoir could drop to 117.5 meters on July 7 or 8.

The water level would fall to 114 meters between July 17 and 20.

There is a need for at least 153 milliliters of rainfall to enable the city to keep its current water rationing program. Chen Shen-hsien, deputy director of the Water Conservancy Agency under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, said the average rainfall in July is normally lower than in June and August. The central government will have to set off the “life support water mechanism” at Feitsui Reservoir in Taipei County in late July and at Shihmen Dam in Taoyuan in early August. With the water level at 119.7 meters, the effective water storage at Feitsui Reservoir is 26.28 million metric tons, an all-time low. The effective water storage at Shihmen Dam is 18.78 million metric tons, with a water level of 204.06 meters.

But if the water supply is not replenished in the two reservoirs, they would reach “dead water” levels in late July and early August, respectively. If the water rationing measures are to be lifted, the water level at Feitsui Reservoir would have to go up to 131 meters with an effective water storage of 70 million tons. The water at Shihmen Dam would have to rise to 201 meters with an effective storage of 30 million tons. Kuo Yao-chi, head of the central government’s Drought Disaster Relief Center, suggested that Taipei City adopt alternative measures to utilize secondary water resources for non-essential uses. She said that the city could use water from Shinsheng Dam of Keelung City for swimming pools, and car wash operators could use recycled water generated at sewage processing plants. Kuo said every drop of water at Feitsui Reservoir and Shihmen Dam should be carefully conserved as the water is depleting at an alarming rate.