Taiwan faces worst water shortage in 56 years: Sun Moon Lake turns into moonscape
Sun Moon Lake, an iconic tourist spot in Taiwan is turning into barren wasteland as the island is experiencing its worst water shortage crisis in 56 years due to months of scant rainfall and a lack of typhoons making landfall last year.
As the largest natural freshwater lake on the island, the water level of the lake has plunged by 12 meters, hitting a record low with some parts of the lake drying up completely. Netizens have been drawn to the drastically altered landscape, posting photos with densely bold cracks seen on the lakebed, with captions such as “Sailing on Land” and the “Sun Mook Lake Prairie.”
The management department of the lake has closed the park since April 1 due to safety concerns.
This is the worst drought Taiwan is facing in half a century and the reservoirs in central and southern Taiwan have nearly bottomed out. If the current drought continues, major water supply reservoirs in the island will only have enough water to last two more months, according to Taiwan officials.
On March 15, Taiwannews.com reported that the Zengwen Reservoir in Chiayi County was down to just 15.3 percent of its capacity, Liyutan Reservoir in Miaoli had plummeted to 13.7 percent, and Techi Reservoir in Deji Reservoir in Taichung was down to just 8.2 percent.
If Plum Rains are unable to replenish reservoirs in central Taiwan, a red alert will have to be issued in May, according to local reports.
Local newspapers reported that large water buckets are selling out and due to water-saving measures, many people have rushed to buy waterless clothes, clothes that can go weeks without being washed. Meanwhile, beauty salons and restaurants have said they simply can’t get enough water to meet their business needs as water trucks in the region are busy transporting industrial water to big tech companies that consume large amounts of water.
The island has stepped up nationwide water restrictions and some areas of Taichung, Miaoli, and Changhua have been subjected to a suspension of water supply two days per week on a rotational basis, affecting about one million people.
In response, Tsai Ing-wen, the regional leader of Taiwan, has called on residents to conserve water and set up an emergency response center to deal with the water shortage. But she was criticized for ignoring the warning of meteorologists who alerted the authority months ago that the island would face severe water shortage in the spring.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is also under attack due to their approaches to drought alleviation. For example, the irrigation department joined with a famous temple to pray to Mazu, the sea goddess, for rainfall. And the economic affairs ministry allowed companies to drill emergency wells in a technology hub to increase their water supply.
Both of the methods were criticized as “unscientific” as some warned the drilling could cause land subsidence or damage manufacturing equipment in the park and some doubted that groundwater levels are likely lower than usual due to the drought.
Courtesy of shine.cn