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Taipei water conservation project wins international award

SINGAPORE--Taipei city government officials accepted an award from the International Water Association (IWA) Tuesday for a water conservation program that has helped reduce average household water consumption in the city by 15 percent.

The capital city outshone other East Asia competitors Tokyo and Seoul to win the marketing and communications category of the 2012 IWA Project Innovation Awards. The other two were each given honor awards.

A total of 21 project entries were received for the Asia-Pacific Regional category of the competition. Evaluation of the entries was based on a set of criterion that included originality and innovation, as well as social, economic and sustainable design considerations, according to the IWA. Between its start in 2007 and 2011, the household water conservation in Taipei project has lowered the average amount of water each household uses per day from 263 liters to 224 liters, city officials said.

Deputy Mayor Chen Wei-jen accepted the award at the East Asia and Asia-Pacific Regional Awards Ceremony, held in conjunction with the July 1-5 Singapore International Water Week.

Rainfall in Taipei is not scant, with about 2,363 mm per year, but it is concentrated only in certain areas, Chen said. The Feitsui Reservoir, a major water source for the greater Taipei area, for example, can only supply the city for four months even when the 406 million cubic-meter dam is full, he noted.

As extreme weather situations become more and more frequent, water shortages can easily occur if people do not conserve water, Chen said.

The conservation project focuses on four aspects, which it described as “family, community, school and society,” in water-saving promotion. For instance, the city government provides fun and interesting educational materials to schools to teach children about water conservation. It also organizes conservation contests in communities to draw more public attention to the issue.

The core concept of the project is to build public awareness of water conservation by getting people to take action in their daily lives, said Wu Yang-lung, director of the Taipei Water Department.

Wu said many of the participants at a forum that took place during the event were surprised to learn that Taipei's citizens have been willing to reduce their water consumption, even though water rates in Taiwan are much lower than those in many other countries.

All the Asia-Pacific winners and honor awardees will advance together with those in Europe and West Asia, East Asia and North America regional competitions to compete for the PIA Global Grand Prize, which will be presented Sept. 19 at the IWA World Water Congress in Busan, South Korea.

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