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Cloud seeding may begin to quench reservoirs

TAIPEI--Cloud seeding may be started Monday to induce rain at Shihmen Reservoir in northern Taiwan, after water reserves there have dropped below the lowest level, a water resources official said yesterday.

The procedure will be immediately implemented upon the arrival of a possible cold front that day, said Chien Chao-chun of the Water Resources Agency.

Chien urged the public to conserve water as the reservoir, which supplies water to Taoyuan and Hsinchu counties as well as parts of New Taipei, has seen its water drop below its lowest level of 232 meters.

Some sort of water rationing has been started in Taoyuan County and New Taipei's Linkou District. The rationing reduces water supply at night, due to lower-than-average rainfall since the beginning of this year and a typhoon season that ended earlier last year.

The agency will call a meeting to discuss the possibility of further water rationing in northern Taiwan on Monday, Chien said.

Sun Moon Lake at Stake

Boat tours on Sun Moon Lake in the central county of Nantou may be closed in late May because of the low water level, the lake administration said yesterday.

It said the water level in the lake has dropped sharply due to scant rains this year, which may also force closure of the boat piers and affect tourism at the popular site if the situation continues.

The lake is fed mainly by Jhuoshuei River via a 10-kilometer tunnel built by Taiwan Power Company (Taipower) between new Wujie and old Wujie in the county's Renai Township.

The water level in Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan's largest natural lake, is normally 748.5 meters above sea level, according to Taipower data.

However, because of the low rainfall so far this year, the water level has dropped to 744.7 meters as of Saturday, the data showed.

Chen Yi-chuan, a division chief at the Sun Moon Lake Administration office, said the piers at the lake are designed to function at a safety level of about 742.5 meters.

If the water level drops to 743 meters, a warning system will be triggered, he said. If it falls to 742 meters, all the four piers around the lake will be closed and boat tours will be shut down, he added.

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This photo taken yesterday shows Taoyuan County's Shihmen Reservoir (石門水庫). The Water Resources Agency (WRA) revealed that the reservoir's water level has fallen alarmingly, standing at only 232 meters. Cloud seeding operations may begin on Monday, March 18. (CNA)

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