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June 27, 2017

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EPA calls for hike of 'unreasonably low' water price

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) called for a hike to Taiwan's water fee, which is "unreasonably low" at one-fifth of the global average.

Chou Kuo-ting (周國鼎), head of the EPA's Bureau of Comprehensive Planning (綜合計畫處), said adjusting the price of water is a political issue.

Taiwan has not adjusted the price in 21 years, to the serious detriment of water technology research and development, Chou said.

"Not only is (the price) holding back the development of water technology, it is discouraging industries from recycling water. If one cubic meter of tap water only costs NT$10 and a cubic meter of recycled water costs NT$20, then industries are earning NT$10 by choosing to buy tap water," Chou said.

Water Price Survey

Citing a September 2014 survey by the International Water Association, Chou said Taiwan's water price is "unreasonably low."

Water costs NT$9.23 per cubic meter, the third-cheapest in the survey of 29 countries and one-fifth of the global average (NT$43.84). The most expensive water on the list is in Denmark, where a cubic meter costs NT$91.46. The cheapest water is in Iran (NT$5.52 per cubic meter).

Studies have consistently shown that cheaper water leads to greater consumption, Chou said.

Water Tax by Next Year?

At the Legislative Yuan, Vice Minister of Economic Affairs Yang Wei-fu (楊偉甫) said the Cabinet expects to complete its draft revisions to Taiwan's water laws within three weeks.

The long-stalled drafts target the Water Act (水利法) and Water Supply Act (自來水法) to establish tariffs on excessive consumption and use during dry seasons.

If the Legislature approves the bills, implementation for the tax on excessive consumption could start as early as next January, Yang said.

Water Relief for New Taipei

As Taiwan faces its worst drought on record, Taoyuan and select districts of New Taipei City are set to enter phase-three water rationing.

Starting April 1, water will be suspended two days a week in Taoyuan and parts of New Taipei City that draw from the Shimen Reservoir (石門水庫).

New Taipei City's Agriculture Department (農業局) announced yesterday that recycled water will be supplied to residents hit by phase-three water rationing.

Recycled water is not potable but can be safely used for all other purposes, Agriculture Department Director Liao Jung-ching (廖榮清) said.

Liao recommended that residents choose recycled water over tap water when washing and irrigating, in order to save on reservoir resources.

Recycled water is available free of charge to residents of Tucheng (土城), Sanxia (三峽), Yingge (鶯歌), Linkou (林口), Xinzhuang (新莊), Wugu (五股), Shulin (樹林), Banqiao (板橋), Taishan (泰山) and other areas affected by rationing.

A list of distribution stations will be posted to the New Taipei City Agriculture Department website at http://www.agriculture.ntpc.gov.tw/website/cht/index.php?code=list&ids=20.

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