Taiwan's underdeveloped Sewerage System

One thing I don’t understand is why there is only 5% coverage nationwide of Sewerage Systems in Taiwan.I am from Taiwan myself but I no longer live there, and I am very concerned sometimes when I go back and see the country.Why do they spend so much money on Taipei 101,That new subway/railway system that no one even uses,countless numbers of malls+dream malls etc…Yet don’t even fix up and install more sewerage system? I heard Mainland China has a 42% coverage od sewerage systems nationwide,and they are still in developing status. If Taiwan even bothered increasing sewerage system coverage nationwide, they can improve the smell of some areas and this would give foreigners+investors a better impression on the country,and also reduce gastroenteritis-associated healthcare costs that could save the Government heaps of money each year.

Taiwan is supposed to be a highly developed,powerful economy in Asia.But from face value,it doesn’t seem like it because the Government won’t even invest money or put forward a nationwide project to fix up the sewerage systems(aiming for 100% coverage)or even bother fixing up some of the infractures or misplaced signs/uneven roading in some areas.I went to Singapore and Japan,and the infrastructure,city layout etc impressed me so much.

I love Taiwan, I honestly don’t mean to offend with this entry but I am only speaking from the heart. Obviously Taiwan can afford to put in nationwide sewerage system coverage since they have a whole heap od surplus to spend on Taipei101,dream malls,massive rail way projects and all sorts of fancy glamerous projects.Why not go back to the fundamentals and fix up the sewerage etc because there is a saying that goes ‘you need to lay in the foundation correctly before building anything else’ and things like a nationwide sewerage coverage is what the fundamentals are.Good hygiene+sewerage systems=less illness+increased productivity+increased income.

There are also too many people/leaders dancing around and rallying/swearing at politicians and ‘so-called China threat’ has become more important than economy and development,which I find annoying+corrupt politicians from every side.

I honestly feel like making the ROC Government wake up and do something about the more important issues.I wish someone could write in to the government and suggest these things and change the minds on those in power on the real important issues.

Sorry about my rant but I was just speaking my mind and I believe I am telling the truth.

here is the stats on Taiwan Sewerage Systems: taiwan.com.au/Envtra/Protect … ort01.html

I’m surprised it is so much… most of the people in the government here only “came for a few years”, why they would develop a sewer system?

When was this report dated? According to figures it’s not recent …

Taiwan has a sewage system, but not enough sewage is treated, it goes unprocessed in the rivers.

But I guess not too many countries have a high percentage of sewage processed yet …

The report’s a little out of date. Taipei has spent a lot of money the past five years expanding the sewage lines. It’s almost complete afaik. My area, Muzha, is one of the last to be completed. They have finished the lines and are now starting to hook up buildings.

Kaohsiung has put some effort into this as well, as you can see around the Love River. Don’t know about Taichung or Tainan.

The problem is that Taiwan developed too fast with no thought for the future as many have said. And it’s very hard to convince people after 30 years without sewage that they suddenly need it. Which is fair enough. Would you agree to allow your government to spend billions on a new project whose benefits you can’t see or really appreciate? Clean rivers? Whatever? Few big cities have clean rivers. Taiwan has other problems.

Ma Ying Jiu said in a recent interview how difficult it was to keep up the sewage program in Taipei. There was a lot of resistance both from politicians and ordinary people. People just don’t see the benefit and that really isn’t so hard to understand.

Now a lot of people are complaining now about the new towns that will be developed around the HSR stations but I think they are a good thing. They will certainly be built with sewage lines and proper infrastructure. Now you may be opposed to urban sprawl, but think: development is going to happen someplace, so would you rather Chiayi, for example, continues to expand without any planning or would you rather a smaller planned town spring up to absorb the excess population? This is a chance to start over and do things (at least half) right from the start.

Interesting thread. Didn’t Ironlady start a similar thread a while back? I’ve lived in a few different rural areas here in HK and have dealt with inadequate septic tank systems. Nearly all septic tanks and soakaways here are poorly designed and built since there is no inspection or licensing regime like there is in most developed countries.

I’m wondering if any Forumosans have noticed what the sewerage situation is like for houses in rural areas. Does the law require a soil scientist to check rural building sites for septic tank suitability (don’t laugh too hard if that is far from reality)? Are rural houses fitted with a proper multi-chamber, baffled tank and soakaway field, or is it basically just cesspits that are allowed to overflow into public storm drains?

[quote=“Belgian Pie”]When was this report dated? According to figures it’s not recent …

Taiwan has a sewage system, but not enough sewage is treated, it goes unprocessed in the rivers.

But I guess not too many countries have a high percentage of sewage processed yet …[/quote]

In Australia, we’re processing ours so that its suitable for drinking!

I suppose that very soon more countries have to do that …

In Belgium we are going to a two way drain system … one for rainwater only and the other for sewage … keeps down processing costs as the volume decreases …

Maybe we should try recycling the rain water for toilet flushing …

[quote=“Jive Turkey”]Interesting thread. Didn’t Ironlady start a similar thread a while back? I’ve lived in a few different rural areas here in HK and have dealt with inadequate septic tank systems. Nearly all septic tanks and soakaways here are poorly designed and built since there is no inspection or licensing regime like there is in most developed countries.

I’m wondering if any Forumosans have noticed what the sewerage situation is like for houses in rural areas. Does the law require a soil scientist to check rural building sites for septic tank suitability (don’t laugh too hard if that is far from reality)? Are rural houses fitted with a proper multi-chamber, baffled tank and soakaway field, or is it basically just cesspits that are allowed to overflow into public storm drains?[/quote]

You really know your shit. :wink:

Not sure what you mean by a soakaway field and all that, so could you enlighten?

In my experience most rural homes dump or pump their waste directly into a nearby river. You can see it over and over again. River is crystal clear just past the last house. Even one or two homes is enough to make the water murkier downstream. In Jingtong you can see the start of the Jeelung River. Lovely and clear until it passes Jingtong.

It’s really a crying shame. The whole island would be one big swimming hole if there were sewage lines and treatment plants in the countryside.

Thank you.

The description I’ll give is of a typical system you might find in N America, Japan or Europe. I’ve never really seen a proper system in HK, and I never looked at any in Taiwan. Septic tank systems have been in use since the late 19th century. Traditional septic tanks were made of brick and mortar, but most that have gone in the ground in the developed world during the past 20 years are prefabricated and made of concrete and rebar. A septic tank for a household of four would hold a volume of around 1000 gallons of wastewater. Septic tanks are designed not to hold water, but instead to provide a holding chamber where the flow of the water is slowed down enough so that heavy solids can fall to the bottom of the tank and lightweight lents and greasy solids can float to the top. The tank slows the flow of water down at the inlet and outlet pipes with baffles. The out pipe is deep enough so that the floating solids and shallow enough that the heavy solids can’t enter it easily. Between these in and out pipes, which are at opposite ends of the rectangle shaped tank, are usually one or two walls that split the tank into chambers. The baffles are T shaped to prevent solids from traveling backward into the inlet pipe wher they could clog it, or foward through the out pipe and into the soakaway system. The walls and baffles ensure that wastewater can’t go straight from the inlet to the outlet before the solids are seperated out. Google “septic tank” and you’ll find plenty of diagrams.

The solid waste is what you call a contractor to pump out ever few years. How often a tank needs pumping mostly depends on the habits of the people living in the house. In the west, all toilet, sink, shower and washing machine water is supposed to go through the septic tank. A household of four could use enough water in the course of two or three days to fill a 1000 gallon tank. So where does the water go from the tank outlet? The septic tank, if it functions properly, only takes the solid waste out of the water. Water coming out of a septic tank is still full of all kinds of pathogens and caustic natural chemicals that result from the breakdown of your fecal matter. To render this cocktail harmless, it is sent from the septic tank into the soakaway field. This is also called a leach field or septic field. It basically consists of two or three perforated 4 inch PVC pipes that could be anywhere from 5 to 30 meters long. The total length of these leach lines depends on how many people live in the house (how much water the system needs to be able to handle) and how easily the soil can absorb water. The depth of the leach lines can be anywhere from 12 inches to four feet below the surface, much depending on the soil type, seasonal shifts in permafrost and whether the ground water level is high. If the septic tank is designed and maintained well, then only wastewater will enter these perforated pipes. If solids get into them, then they’ll clog up and cause the whole system to back up into the house.

The nasty pathogens and chemicals in wastewater are broken down by the bacteria found in soil. Wastewater needs to percolate through a few feet of soil in order to neutralize the nasty stuff in it. If you go to any house in the country in the developed world, you may notice that the grass on part of the lawn is greener or thicker than other areas of the lawn. That is likely where the leach lines are.

The reason I asked about soil scientists is that in pretty much every state in the US and every province in Canada, all new septic tank systems must be licensed by government, and rightly so. It’s usually not too expensive to get a license. All you have to do is get a government approved soil scientist to come out. They’ll dig a few holes, see what the soil is like and then do some tests with water to see how well it soaks into the ground. Usually $100-300 in the US. The material and installation for the whole thing is usually around $5,000, unless the soil type and topography require something more elaborate.

In HK, we have septic tanks, but we don’t have perforated pipe leach lines. Instead, we have soakaway pits, which are usually about 5 by 5 feet across and 6 to 7 feet deep. They’re made of brick and mortar, but gaps are left between the bricks so wastewater can soak out into the ground. These can only work properly in a limited range of soil and groundwater conditions. Six or seven feet is actually way too deep, and way to close to ground water in most places, so this is why a lot of the rivers in rural HK smell like, well, shit. A septic tank with soakaway pit is still a lot better than dumping straight into storm drains or rivers, though.

Only concerns with septic tanks is in the last 20 years with the wide usage of detergents it sort of screws up the breakdown process

[quote=“Tyc00n”][quote=“Belgian Pie”]When was this report dated? According to figures it’s not recent …

Taiwan has a sewage system, but not enough sewage is treated, it goes unprocessed in the rivers.

But I guess not too many countries have a high percentage of sewage processed yet …[/quote]

In Australia, we’re processing ours so that its suitable for drinking![/quote]

That explains Foster’s then! :wink:

maybe if they would increase the price of the water, people would care more about it…

anyway, it really is amazing that in a country where it rains so much, that the rivers are as they are. But it is all fault of the previous governments (most of european cities also only implemented wide sewer systems in the last 50 years…), but to think that in a place where you pay millions for an apartment you can smell sh*t… it is just too much for me…
I don’t know how is the situation in China (having a totalitarian government also helps in these things), but might it be that the people that where doing the city planning where not aware of the need for a sewer system?

In Belgium you get levied a tax on the amount of water you use, it’s a waste water processing tax …

now I understand why all the guys there drink beer like I drink water…

i found several articles about the sewage problem. the govt. recognizes the problem. it’s just going to take some time to resolve it.

http://english.www.gov.tw/TaiwanHeadlines/index.jsp?recordid=26353&action=CNA

ONLY 15% OF TAIWAN HOUSEHOLDS CONNECTED TO SEWER SYSTEMSTaipei, Nov. 1 (CNA) As of the end of September, 2006, only
847,000 households or 14.9 percent, were connected to a sewer system,
although the nation’s waste water treatment plants were treating
32.49 percent of the sewage created by its 23 million people,
officials of the Construction and Planning Agency under the Ministry
of the Interior said Wednesday.
The agency said the government plans to increase the sewage
treatment rate to 40 percent within three years.
Taiwan is one of the most densely populated countries in the
world. Despite its economic development over the past few decades, it
has one of the lowest rates of households connected to public sewage
systems among developed countries. The low sewage treatment rate is
the main source of pollution in the country’s major rivers.
About 25 percent of the total length of Taiwan’s rivers is listed
as either heavily or moderately polluted. Reservoirs are also heavily
polluted. Pollution sources are broken down as 40 percent from
municipal waste water, 36 percent from industrial waste water and 24
percent from livestock waste.
The agency said the rise in connection rate this year was
contributed largely by Taipei and Kaohsiung cities and Taipei County,
with little progress reported in other cities and counties.
From the 1950s, when the government started to build the first
sewage treatment system in Nantou County, until the early 2000s, very
little attention and resources had been given to sewage treatment
projects.
In recent years, the government has started to recognize the
importance of building a comprehensive sewage treatment system. The
percentage of the total population served by public sewage treatment
systems is a benchmark of a country’s development and living
standards.
The total budget appropriated for construction of sewage systems
in 2003 was NT$9 billion (US$264 million) . In 2004, the authorities
budgeted about NT$10.2 billion (US$ 300 million) for building sewer
systems.
To meet the 20.8 percent connection rate target set by the
Challenge 2008 National Development Plan, central and local
authorities will continue to increase spending year-on-year for the
construction of sewage systems.
The government is also encouraging the private sector to work
with the public sector in building or expanding new sewer systems on
the build-operate-transfer (BOT) model, said the agency.

http://www.taiwanheadlines.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=56505&CtNode=39

PUBLIC SEWER CONNECTION RATE INCREASES TO 15.2%: CPA
12/29/2006 (CNA)

Taipei, Dec. 29 (CNA) Taiwan’s public sewer connection rate had reached 15.2 percent as of the end of November, up from 14 percent at the end of last year, officials from the Ministry of the Interior’s Construction and Planning Administration (CPA) said Friday.

The government has budgeted NT$11.09 billion for the public sewer connection project for 2006, the officials said, adding that 79 percent of the outlay had been spent on the project as of the end of November.

Thanks to concerted efforts of the CPA and local governments, an additional 69,542 private homes have been connected to public sewers in the past year, the officials said.

Meanwhile, the officials said some local governments have signed contracts with private business groups to build the Tamsui sewer system in Taipei County, the Nantzu sewer system in Kaohsiung City and the Loutung sewer system in Yilan County. With the participation of private investors in the sewer connection project, the officials said, the public sewer connection rate will surge further in the coming year. (By Nick Huang)

http://taiwanreview.nat.gov.tw/ct.asp?xItem=23576&CtNode=128

…One may wonder how people can stand so much untreated filth being discharged into rivers. But the situation is not quite as Dickensian as it seems. Hank Huang, researcher in the Taiwan Institute of Economic Research, offers some explanations. He says that he does not feel there is a wide gap between Taiwan and those countries he has visited that claim to have more than 50 percent of households connected to public sewerage. “For one thing, the widespread septic tanks in Taiwan perform treatment to some degree before discharge of wastewater,” he says. Indeed this is the whole point of the anaerobic bacterial environment that develops in the tank. “And also, the typical short, fast running rivers in mountainous Taiwan have a much greater capacity for flushing themselves out, especially during heavy rains or typhoons, than the slower, longer rivers in foreign countries.”

James Hu, board chairman of the Taiwan Sewerage Association, says that the top priority should be sewerage development in the densely populated cities. In this respect, the situation is more encouraging. Taiwan’s two biggest cities, Taipei and Kaohsiung, have seen significant progress in the past decade. In Kaohsiung, the household connection rate rose from less than 7 percent in 1997 to 43 percent by the end of 2006. As a result, together with the extensive interception facilities installed along the Love river, the city’s largest waterway has been transformed from a filthy open sewer into a major tourist attraction. In Taipei, household connection has increased by an average of 5 percent each year since 1996 to around 80 percent by the end of 2006.

“the rivers have a great capacity for flushing themselves out”… great.

the crap just ends up in the ocean, unfiltered by hanging around in a river for a while, and then i eat it the next time i have fish. see why i avoid taiwanese oysters like the plague? that’s right, that’s what they carry… well, Hep A and typhus anyway.

maybe that’s what makes taiwanese oyster pancakes so tasty!! :laughing: good thing i hate oysters. they so fishy tasting and look like ox snot.