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Waterski enthusiasts urge gov't to open dams

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Domestic waterski and wakeboard lovers yesterday called on the government to relax current regulations and allow more water areas, including reservoirs, to be accessed for training and competition purposes.

The Chinese Taipei Waterski and Wakeboard Federation (CTWWF, 中華民國滑水總會) yesterday held a press conference at the Legislative Yuan, saying that activities like waterskiing and wakeboarding are best when held in lakes, rivers and reservoirs.

The civic organization said, however, there are only two water areas across the whole nation that are allowed to be accessed for water activities — the Breeze Canal (微風運河) in the New Taipei City and the Lotus Pond in Kaohsiung City — which is very frustrating for waterski lovers.

Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Wu Yu-jen (吳育仁), who also attended the press conference, said that in the past people were allowed to do water activities in a corner of the Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫), but they are not allowed there anymore. Wu further said that it is hard to promote waterskiing and wakeboarding in Taiwan due to the restrictions of water protection laws.

CTWWF Director Tsai Chiung-tzu (蔡瓊姿) said that as far as she knows, most of the neighboring Asian countries allow people to access the reservoirs for waterskiing training and competitions. China, Singapore, Japan and South Korea all open their reservoirs for this purpose, Tsai said, adding that Taiwan is the only country that has such strict regulations for water areas.

Hsu Ting-wei (徐廷瑋), who once represented Taiwan at the Asian Beach Games, said that due to restrictions on water areas, he has to travel to Thailand, Singapore or Hong Kong every winter for training. He said he hopes that the government will relax current regulations to better promote waterskiing and wakeboarding in Taiwan.

In response, the Water Resources Agency (WRA) said that as the island's landforms are steep and “cliffy,” there is limited space in the rivers for people to do water activities. The agency further said that although lakes are not bound by water protection laws, there are only a few lakes in the nation.

The government categorized the reservoirs for different purposes such as electricity generation or cultivation, the WRA said, adding that only a few areas of the reservoirs are opened for tourism.

The WRA said whether or not the dams can be accessed for water activities depends on the reservoir's main usage and the reservoir administrations' evaluation on the proposal.

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