Ensuring reliable year-round water supplies

  • Date: 2017-02-06

I. Background 

Taiwan receives an average 2,510 millimeters of rainfall each year, but it is not evenly distributed throughout the year, with more precipitation during the rainy season (May through October) and less during the dry season (November through April). Given this rainfall pattern, Taiwan depends on reservoirs to store water when it is abundant and release it when needed. But if insufficient water is stored during the rainy season and there is little rainfall in the spring, water shortages may occur, compelling the government to take conservation and reallocation measures to provide a steady supply of water to households and businesses.

Having received an abundance of rainfall from last September’s typhoons, the island’s reservoirs are currently at normal levels. Under normal conditions, that means there is sufficient water to meet household and business needs in Kaohsiung through the end of March, and in other regions through the end of May (although supplies have tightened in parts of New Taipei City as well as Taoyuan City). But with climate change pushing precipitation to extremes while making rainfall more unpredictable, the nation must always be prepared. The Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA) will therefore continue monitoring reservoir levels and adopt whatever measures are necessary to ensure steady water supplies for the upcoming dry season.


II. Stronger operations management and diversification of water resources

Given the importance of water infrastructure in national development, the government is continuing to build water conservancy facilities to balance supplies across seasons, stabilize livelihoods and provide a solid foundation for economic development. And as climate change has increased risk of water shortages as well as the demand for water over the past few years, Taiwan’s water policies have also focused on stronger management and the diversification of water resources.

Strategies include improving reservoir utilization to promote sustainability, promoting water conservation, reducing loss due to leakage, improving water use efficiency, and developing other water resources (including underground streams, reservoirs, artificial lakes, desalinated seawater and recycled water). Major water conservation legislation such as the Reclaimed Water Resources Development Act, the Water Supply Act and the Water Act also promote a sustainable and reliable supply of water.


III. Conservation measures help meet dry season water demand

The MOEA has launched and implemented the following measures to ensure the reliability of water supplies during the 2017 dry season:

A. Conserving water used for agricultural purposes: After the 2016 rainy season, the MOEA coordinated irrigation associations in irrigation districts served by the Shimen, Zengwen, and Wushanto reservoirs to conserve water used for irrigation, and reduce supply depending on actual precipitation. This initiative saved approximately 42 million metric tons of water.

B. Controlling reservoir outflow: To extend water supplies, limits have been placed on outflow volume from major reservoirs such as Shimen (13.5 million metric tons every 10 days), Yongheshan (150,000 metric tons per day), Mingde (40,000 metric tons per day), Liyutan (650,000 metric tons per day) and Nanhua (450,000 metric tons per day).

C. Reallocating water across regions: The Taipei Water Department has increased its water supply to New Taipei City from 180,000 to 300,000 metric tons daily. Kaohsiung is also providing 30,000 metric tons of water to Tainan per day.

D. Continue promoting water conservation: Nationwide conservation efforts in 2016 saved 18.7 million metric tons of water: 2.57 million by the 22 public and private organizations cited for outstanding water conservation efforts; 1.54 million by government agencies, schools and military units through routine conservation practices (lowering water usage by 2 percent); and 14.59 million from the use of water-saving appliances and products (3.24 million water-saving labels were attached to these products).

E. Drought response preparedness: As of December 2016, the government had surveyed 1,067 water wells island-wide that could supply water in the event of a drought.


IV. Conclusion

To prepare for the coming dry season, the MOEA has convened two rounds of review meetings while monitoring reservoir storage levels and assessing the reallocation of water supplies. Depending on reservoir and precipitation levels, the ministry will take suitable measures to secure water supplies for the dry season.

Water conservation is important, even in times of plenty, so everyone should work together to save water for the future. To maintain the sustainability and reliability of the nation’s water supplies, the government will implement risk management procedures, continue to balance supply and demand more effectively, develop new water resources, build diverse and sustainable supply systems, strengthen water reallocation capabilities, and protect natural water catchments. All of these efforts will help to improve quality of life while supporting Taiwan’s continued social and economic development.