Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program: Water environments

  • Date: 2017-07-27

I. Background

Protecting the aquatic environment has become a matter of urgency as Taiwan sees increasing threats of natural disasters from global warming and climate change. The island must also contend with special circumstances concerning its own water resources, rivers and shorelines: While Taiwan receives copious amounts of rainfall (2.6 times more than the world average), the precipitation falls unevenly throughout the year, and mostly during the wet season. The island’s steep terrain sends river waters quickly out to sea, making it extremely difficult to effectively utilize and manage water resources. Taiwan’s location on the western Pacific typhoon corridor—and subject to “plum rain” weather fronts—leaves it vulnerable to frequent typhoons, torrential rainstorms, and the resulting flooding and landslide hazards. And, the region’s low atmospheric pressure produces strong ocean tides that can wreak havoc on coastal areas.


To address the challenges brought on by climate change, protect against flooding, and manage aquatic resources and ecosystems, the government has proposed a major water infrastructure plan as part of the Forward-looking Infrastructure Development Program approved April 5, 2017. This plan will combine resources across government agencies to build quality aquatic environments that provide reliable water supplies, clean drinking water, stronger flood defenses and accessible waterfront spaces.


II. Water infrastructure: Three objectives

The government will use new thinking, new technologies, new environments and new industries as strategies for significantly lowering flooding and water shortage risks, and create a blueprint for creating high-quality aquatic environments in Taiwan. These projects will require an estimated investment of NT$250.77 billion (US$8.3 billion) over eight years. The first four years (September 2017 through August 2021) will be funded by a special budget of NT$112.46 billion (US$3.7 billion) divided over three terms, with NT$25.67 billion (US$848.5 million) going to the first term (September 2017 through December 2018). The water infrastructure plan has three main objectives:

A. Water and development: Providing reliable water supplies

Eight-year objective: Increase regular water supplies by 1 million metric tons per day, and emergency water supplies by 2 million metric tons per day.

1. Dredge, build and rehabilitate reservoirs:
Construct the Amuping desilting tunnel at Shimen Reservoir, upgrade and improve the Baihe Reservoir, build a second raw water pipeline for Hushan Reservoir, construct the Shuangxi ecological reservoir and Tianhua ecological reservoir, and conserve and manage reservoirs and water catchments.

2. Increase water supplies, coordinate backup water supplies:
Construct the Wuxi-Niaozuitan artificial lake, improve water supplies to offshore islands and areas lacking running water, dig wells to support disaster preparedness and provide backup water reserves, combine the water resources of the Da-an and Dajia rivers, build pipelines to connect the Zengwen and Nanhua reservoirs, and develop water resources for the Jinsha and Qianpu rivers.

3. Diversify water resources:
Promote construction projects for recycling water, accessing deep sea water, and developing subsurface water resources.

4. Use smart water management and water conservation technologies:
Create smart flood prevention networks, develop smart groundwater detection technologies, expand smart networks to manage supplies of running water, construct rainwater catchment systems, guide industries on water use and conservation, and provide business with incentives for upgrading equipment and facilities.

B. Water and safety: Preventing flooding, protecting terrestrial and aquatic resources

Eight-year objective: Improve protection for 200 square kilometers of flood-prone land, construct 250 kilometers of locally managed levee revetments and storm sewers, clean 120 kilometers of centrally administered rivers and regional drainage systems, and complete improvements on 16 kilometers of sea walls.

1. Improve rivers and regional drainage systems managed by local governments:
Make citywide improvements in urban areas vulnerable to flooding. Implement water treatment and improvement projects for more densely populated areas, focusing on rivers, drainage systems, sea walls, rainwater sewers, agricultural field drainage, livestock farming drainage, slopeland water and soil, and other drainage pathways.

2. Improve rivers, regional drainage systems and regular sea walls managed by the central government:
Extend the duration of three aquatic environment development programs (for major rivers, coastal areas and regional drainage systems) previously approved for 2015 to 2020. Build disaster mitigation and wave defense infrastructure using a comprehensive watershed management approach covering up-, mid- and downstream levels. Ensure the infrastructure protects wildlife habitats, reflects local people and cultures, maintains the natural landscape, and improves the quality of waterfront environments.

C. Water and environment: Improving water quality, building aquatic environments

Eight-year objective: Promote at least one riverbank landscaping and water habitat project in each city or county, and create 420 hectares of accessible waterfront spaces.

1. Scope:
Projects will cover areas surrounding rivers, lakes, coastlines and sewers of all types. The infrastructure should be designed primarily with the body of water in mind, and complemented with supplementary facilities for the surrounding environs.

2. Improve waterfront spaces nationwide:
Government agencies will combine their resources to accelerate waterfront projects, including developing river and drainage environments, intercepting sewage flow, using water that meets effluent standards to replenish water supplies, purifying water sources, planting trees and beautifying landscapes near detention ponds, and constructing water treatment facilities.

Each city or county will also build at least one accessible waterfront space offering foot paths and scenic bridges. Creating a recreational space in the midst of abundant nature and wildlife habitats will revitalize riverbanks and promote accessible, sustainable aquatic environments.


III. Conclusion

Water resources are an important foundation for economic growth and vital for the preservation of Taiwan’s security and quality of life. The government’s water infrastructure plan is designed to protect citizens against water-related disasters, create a safe and livable environment, and provide reliable water supplies that homes and businesses can count on. By revitalizing rivers and lakes, maintaining effective storage capacities at major reservoirs, and using smart water management technologies, the infrastructure projects will afford greater protection to Taiwan’s aquatic environments while making them more resistant and resilient to the effects of climate change.