A drought? No kidding

There has been talk of droughts for years now… what’s up with that?

Lack of rainfall? It looks like it - or is the issue perhaps “too many people for this small island”?
How else do people figure in this equation? Is it like this: “It’s not really people’s responsibility” or like this: “23 million little problems amount to one big problem”…?
Lack of rainfall? It looks like it - or is the issue perhaps “not enough at one time; too much at another time”?
Mismanagement? “Everybody” says so - but who is doing the mismanaging? And what forms does it take?
Mismanagement? Or is it a matter of nature doing its thing and humans having no clue?





[quote]{December 15, 2009}
Chronically rainy Taiwan faces a rare water shortage as leaders ask that people on the dense, consumption-happy island of 23 million finally start changing habits as dry weather is forecast into early 2010.
Taiwan, a west Pacific island covered with rainforests and topical fruit orchards, is used to rain in all seasons, bringing as much as 3,800 mm (150 inches) on average in the first 10 months of every year. But reservoirs have slipped in 2009 due to a chain of regional weather pattern flukes giving Taiwan too much dry high pressure while other parts of Asia get more storms than normal, the Central Weather Bureau says.
Deadly typhoon Morakot in August brought more than half the year’s rain to much of south Taiwan, washing away drought fears as well as a lot of other things. But the three-day storm dumped too much rain at once for much storage or use. Despite the typhoon, southern Taiwan’s anchor city Kaohsiung was 20 mm below average in the first 10 months of 2009, with the typhoon’s contribution about half the 1,747 mm total. Below-average rainfall resumed after the typhoon, the weather bureau said, and the same is forecast through February.
Some reservoirs in south and central Taiwan have hit water-rationing levels, a senior climate researcher told the United Daily News , adding that “southerners had better not go home for the Chinese New Year” in February.
Authorities in Taiwan won’t say when they might ration water or how long Taiwan can get by without more rain. For now they are trying to wash off the spectre of rations by asking ordinary people to make awkward, expensive lifestyle changes. One: Reuse water used for baths or laundry to wash floors. Two: Install low-flush toilets, low-flow faucets and low-usage washing machines. The island’s Water Resources Agency aims to reduce today’s average per capita water use of 274 litres per day down to 250, said drought prevention director Wang Yi-feng. “We also hope they change and correct their use of water,” Wang said. “To reuse water can save a lot.”
Consumers are likely to consider low-flush, low-flow appliances only when buying new homes or remodeling them, being in a mood already to spend money on updates, said a volunteer surnamed Tsui with the Consumers’ Foundation, Chinese Taipei. “But if you’ve got older equipment, then maybe not. The cost would be unknown.”[/quote]
chinadaily.com.cn/hkedition/ … 263418.htm

wantchinatimes.com/news-subc … inCatID=11

[quote]With water levels in several major reservoirs having fallen almost to their warning levels, Taiwan’s government is likely to adopt further water rationing measures in May, an economics official said Friday (Apr. 29). Wu Yueh-hsi, deputy director-general of the Water Resources Agency (WRA), said that as spring rainfall this year has been far from ideal, the water levels of Shihmen, Baoshan, Baoshan No. 2 and Liyutaan reservoirs, as well as Kaoping Weir, have all been badly affected.
“Judging from the current water supply situation, we estimate that by mid-May, the water levels of the four major reservoirs will have reached a degree where we will have to enforce second-stage water rationing,” Wu said.[/quote]
chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/nati … t-rain.htm

[quote]Recent showers have provided little help in quenching the nation’s reservoirs, yielding only 5.5 millimeters of rain at Taipei’s Shihmen Reservoir as measured yesterday.{= May 2}
In fact, the Northern Region Water Resource Office reported that the total water level of the reservoir is 220 meters, dropping even closer to the critically low level of 215 meters. The reservoir requires at least 50 millimeters of rain in order to stay afloat, said Chien Chao-kun, deputy director of the northern region office, adding that hopefully, conditions will be better after the Plum Rain season in May.The Hsinchu area has seen similar reports, with Boashan Reservoir and Boashan No. 2 at 51 and 30 percent capacity respectively. As of late March, the area had implemented the first phase of water rationing measures. The Water Resources Agency (WRA) expressed that it could implement the second stage by mid-May, although the exact date will be discussed during a drought-prevention meeting later this week.
The good news is that Feitsui Reservoir (water level: 157.03 meters), which supplies water to Taipei and New Taipei City, has enough water to last until June or, if the public practices water conservation, even to mid-July.
The Taipei Feitsui Reservoir Administration said the reservoir has enough water to help cover Banchiao and Sinjhuang, areas that were previously supplied by water in the Shihmen Reservoir. As of this January, the Feitsui Reservoir supplied 187,000 cubic meters of water daily to Banchiao and Sinjhuang. By April, the daily average was raised to 400,000 cubic meters.
However, the parched reservoirs of Central Taiwan have resorted to relying on artificial rain. In Maioli, an attempt was made to create precipitation at 11 a.m. yesterday at the Mingde Reservoir after it was revealed that the water level, at 53.56 meters, practically flat-lined with the critically low level of 52 meters. The recent rain yielded only 1.2 millimeters of rain, which was mostly soaked up by the surrounding soil.
For the cloud seeding process, the Water Resource Agency burned water-absorbing calcium chloride salts (CaCL2) in hopes of inducing substantial rainfall in the upcoming days.
Liyutan Reservoir in Taichung also faces similar measures, with the reservoir administration proclaiming that the water level (277.74 meters) is the lowest recorded within the past six years and is rapidly approaching the critically low 272.2 meters that will propel implementation of second phase water rationing measures.[/quote]
taipeitimes.com/News/editori … 2003468452

news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BN … 78444.html

[quote][…] the island faces its worst water shortage in eight years.
[…] the country also needs to be bracing for possible floods to be triggered by typhoons[/quote]

There are clear issues with the management of water. Taipei city only recently spent time and money to try to stop leaking pipes, which have been recorded loosing up to 30% of their water. Residents also use water at a higher than average worldwide rate. However, we also rarely have shortages up here so mismanagement is really not much of an issue. Is it an issue in central and southern Taiwan? I don’t know.

The first thing then to do in any discussion is to be clear that Taiwan has different regions with varying amounts of rainfall, different river systems, and different reservoirs.

As for terminology, I agree too that water shortage would be a better term, though to be honest when you get down south and see the dismal levels at some of the reservoirs, it does look drought like.

Rainfall definitely looks to have dropped. But shouldn’t there still be plenty? Maybe, but then man-made systems are designed for the conditions that exist when they were built. Climate change is throwing a spanner in the works. Consider what will happen if rainfall increases but comes in more concentrated bursts. Great, you think, water a plenty. Well not necessarily. If too much rains falls then the reservoirs have to release water as they do during huge typhoons. So Taiwan could still experience water shortages even in a situation where rainfall was increasing. This would lead to drought like conditions throughout much of the year.

As you say, it is a complex issue.

Sorry for the digression. Parlous is a fancy way of saying perilous.

These two dictionaries treat it as standard in the sense used:
dictionary.cambridge.org/diction … sh/parlous

The two ordinary dictionaries on this page treat it as standard in the sense used:

In the sense used, one of the two dictionaries on this page treats it as literary and the other treats it as standard:

This dictionary treats it as literary or archaic in the sense used:

Don’t mind me. Please carry on. :slight_smile:

Sorry for the digression. Parlous is a fancy way of saying perilous.
Oh, neat… a new word for me… :slight_smile: I’ve adjusted my comment accordingly…

Sorry for the digression. Parlous is a fancy way of saying perilous.
Oh, neat… a new word for me… :slight_smile: I’ve adjusted my comment accordingly…[/quote]

But I’m readin’ it, I’m readin’ it. I’m a slow reader. :neutral:

I also have the distinct recollection of suggesting just a few days ago in some other thread that one way to help alleviate that problem would be to raise the rate for water - but i very much suspect politicians will shy away from that for fear of losing votes. Or one day the issue becomes so overwhelmingly obvious that all of them will pull in the same direction (something not altogether impossible).

And “roger” on the other points…

I have to confess that i tend to be unmindful of people who don’t read fast (while i do) and may have linked to a perhaps unmanageable amount of data here. :blush:

It has always seemed weird that my power bill is a serious financial knock every two months, but I hardly notice my water bill: yet (or therefore?) I always hear about water shortages, but never about power limits.

Mind you, I suspect that household water use is neglegible compared to corporations or agriculture.

You are right. Farming takes 70%, industry must take something like 10-20%. So household use is not a huge factor in the overall scheme of things.
These kind of statistics are rarely mentioned in the press of course.

Shocking stat:

Another excellent summary article from Commonwealth. Interesting that Shimen Reservoir must be filled 5 times a year to supply steady water to Taoyuan. That’s difficult in a climate that has seasonal rains.

english.cw.com.tw/article.do?act … w&id=11260

OK, a few items from the 1996 article yuli linked to:

So if their estimates were accurate, the Shihmen Reservoir was expected to last until 2034, but after Typhoon Gloria it was expected to last until 2011. But it was dredged from about 1985 to 1995. However,

[quote]. . . the dam [sic] was still filling up faster than it could be dredged.[/quote]–Ibid.

The silt they dredged, according to the article, was not good for anything, so it was placed in 14 dumps. Finally, this became impracticable (again, according to the article), so I guess they just gave up.

The article describes an amazing amount of construction, settlement, and other activies around the Shihmen reservoir, and attributes much of the water quality problem to human beings. The article also describes intense political pressure to allow these kinds of activities to continue, and describes a baffling arrangement of competing agencies that had (perhaps still have?) regulatory power over the reservoir. And I guess this is the result:

[quote]. . . in mid-September this year [1996], the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) released the results of a survey of the water quality of reservoirs in Taiwan, which showed that the Shihmen Reservoir contains excessive levels of organic phosphates from effluent pollution, and displays worsening degrees of eutrophication.[/quote]–Ibid.

So has this changed for the better in the intervening years?

From that article:

And from a different source:

Yes, things like logging, building roads and resorts and other tourist facilities…

And do we expect the government to fix those problems, too? (Human greed is not only an issue in Taiwan but a worldwide problem.)
Like a broken record - in this era surely that expression should be replaced by “like a skipping CD player”, no? - i feel compelled to yet again point out that the underlying problem is really “us”. :wink:

I don’t know if this is still the case, but where you have administrative power diluted by giving it to multiple agencies (which may even actually try to thwart each other, as in the old story about the admiral correcting the young naval officer: “No, son, the Soviet Union is not our enemy, they’re merely our adversary; the Air Force is our enemy”) and legislators who, in order to please constituents (especially powerful or monied ones), won’t do what it takes to remove the sources of water problems and make any other necessary changes, then there’s no point in looking to government to take care of it.

If a situation gets that bad, something has to be done about government itself first before anything else can be done. But that still means the people have to be willing to make whatever sacrifices are required to make the water supply safer and more reliable. Now that’s where the enemy is us. It’s like the Faulkner anecdote about the sheriff who went around breaking up illegal whiskey stills until he discovered the true will of the people (note: I’m not knocking whiskey). If the people don’t demand change, or don’t even want change–that is, if they’re actually benefiting from what others consider to be the problem–then there’s not much hope that anything is going to change.

Ah… right:
tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M … iceRivalry

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolt_of_the_Admirals :slight_smile:

Yes, that’s what i was getting at - but you say it better than i could!

[quote=“yuli”]Ah… right:
tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M … iceRivalry[/quote]

Yikes! I got it reversed! :blush:

I’ve never read about the Revolt of the Admirals. I’ll have to check that out.

Yes, that’s what I was getting at - but you say it better than i could!

You’re very kind. :bow:

About the drought:

We figured it out, it seems: somebody who is smarter than me has decreed that it ain’t so.

I wouldn’t have known nor noticed without your comment - anyway, it’s the principle… :wink:

I also have the distinct recollection of suggesting just a few days ago in some other thread that one way to help alleviate that problem would be to raise the rate for water - but i very much suspect politicians will shy away from that for fear of losing votes. Or one day the issue becomes so overwhelmingly obvious that all of them will pull in the same direction (something not altogether impossible).

And “roger” on the other points…[/quote]

Another way to help alleviate the problem is to piss in the washhand basin.

Cmon guys, you know you want to, and you know it makes sense.

'Course politicians will shy away from that for fear of losing votes. Or one day the issue becomes so overwhelmingly obvious that all of them will pull in the same direction (something not altogether impossible, IF you have a big enough washand basin).

("Roger"ing on the washand basin, OTOH, though probably more politically acceptable, is a bit OT)

Related to this suggestion: a few years ago, at one of the annual industry and commerce fairs in Okinawa, a company presented a type of urinal that would not require any water for flushing and yet not release any odor. No chemicals had to be used to achieve that, either: their design involved a “plug” of a special oil that would always float on top of the liquid in the appropriately shaped drain. I have no idea whether this design has been subjected to real-life tests since and how it has fared, but it goes to show that people have been thinking in this direction and that a practical solution might not be impossible.

Many people may think that flush toilets are a sign of progress, but to me they have never been more than a symbol of a misguided detour in the development of human technology: it makes no sense to contaminate large amounts of water with urine and feces, most obviously not in any part of the world where water is scarce but not even where water is plenty. On the other hand, properly set up, used, and maintained composting toilets are odor-free and yield reusable compost, but they apparently don’t have quite that “with-it” (“out of sight out of mind”) appeal of the flush toilet. Another generation may perhaps think different(ly) regarding this matter (i certainly hope so, and not only for the sake of reducing the occurrence of droughts).

And “roger” on the note of caution about “rogering” - words have a way of doing what they like while we are relegated to impotently looking on.

Thanks to the monsoon rain front that has moved across Taiwan from north to south in the last two days (as of 5am today it it is over the southern tip of Taiwan: jma.go.jp/jp/g3/) we’ve had some welcome rain in all of the country (well, we may need to qualify “welcome” in this context: people in and around Taipei may consider it unwelcome, but in the rest of the country, especially in areas where the water levels in the reservoirs are low, people have been looking forward to it, according to recent news reports). As was to be expected with the movement of the front, most of the recent rain has fallen in the northwestern part of the country, while the south hasn’t seen much of it yet - but it looks like that should be improving.


According to the graphic presentation on this page, yesterday’s peak appears at the coast of Taoyuan and the northern tip of the island, with heavy rain in the northwestern part of the country (from Taipei to Hsinshu) and substantial amounts also in the rest of northern and central Taiwan as far south as the northern half of Tainan County, all of Nantou and Hualien, and the far northern end of Kaohsiung County. With the front having moved further south over night, this morning’s peak is shown in the mountainous areas of Miaoli, Taichung and Kaohsiung Countie - and even Kaohsiung City seems to have gotten a sprinkling already. And the soaked people of Taipei may feel relieved: it looks like the main rainfall today will be in the central parts of the island. :slight_smile:

The local weather: Hualien City has seen pretty steady rain since yesterday afternoon.