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May 27, 2017

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Land subsidence may threaten enterprises, homes, people: WRA

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Water Resources Agency (WRA) said yesterday that concerns over land subsidence issues in Taiwan are rising, with the collective depth of subsidence reaching around 286.47 kilometers in areas such as Changhua County, Yunlin County, Chiayi County and Pingtung County.

Taiwan Watch Institute (TWI) Director Liu Zhi-jian (劉志堅) pointed out that natural sinking of the land isn't the only cause of land subsidence, as factors such as local irrigation, drainage facilities and waterway projects are also to blame.

According to the TWI, more serious problems will arise due to excessive land subsidence, producing disasters like floods that could take an enormous toll on not only the economy, but also the safety of residents.

The Bureau of High Speed Rail has been trying to improve their engineering tactics for the past few years to prevent potential accidents that could likely result from land subsidence.

Liu also said that this issue is a classic example of "Tragedy of the Commons" — an economic theory that states individuals acting for their own benefit behave contrary to the common good. Though the government has to pay more attention to potential problems, locals should also take more responsibility and be more aware of their surroundings, Liu said.

Land Subsidence Damaging to Farmers, HSR

Hong Tsu-mei (洪許美), a 73-year-old woman, is reportedly one of the countless victims impacted by land subsidence. Hong has been living in Changhua County with her husband for over 60 years. Hong told local media that their family could only use 45 percent of their vast land to grow crops for a living, since 55 percent of the land had long since been rendered useless by floods that resulted in regular land subsidence. Hong told local reporters that they are barely holding on with only some financial support from the government.

Yunlin County has been the area most severely affected by land subsidence in recent years, according to reports. It has also been reported that the Yunlin County Government and WRA have given orders to fill several wells and water reservoirs to prevent further sinking to the Taiwan High Speed Rail railway.

Pumping Groundwater Necessary for Pingtung Aquaculture: Association

Pingtung is the center of aquaculture in Taiwan with numerous fish farms and a variety of seafood. Officials from the Aquaculture Development Association (ADA) said that groupers and fish larvae are very popular in mainland China and that Taiwan benefits from the exports.

However, in order to improve the quality of fish farming, the ADA said that groundwater needs to be pumped out on a regular basis, which, regrettably, damages local houses with floods, which in turn results in more land subsidence. In response to the problem, the Pingtung County Government said that it has been actively engaged in combating the groundwater issues in coastal areas, hoping to reduce the amount of groundwater the ADA draws out.

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