July 9-15, 2012
Relaxation of regulation concerning national reservoirs upsets environmentalists
Reported by Lin Yi-ying
Written by Lydia Ma
Dozens of representatives from environmental organizations gathered outside of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) office on July 3, 2012 to protest the relaxation of regulations concerning some of the nation’s reservoirs. Holding signs and posters, they shouted, “Protect our water resources! Water collection areas near reservoirs need environmental assessment! We oppose irresponsible amendment of regulations!”
Water collection areas near reservoirs in Taiwan were recently reclassified into two categories. Category 1 reservoirs would need to abide by strict environmental standards and restrictions used in the past, but Category 2 reservoirs would no longer need to abide by these standards. In response to this change, environmental groups in Taiwan slammed the government for causing reservoirs to become more eutrophic and the rivers to become further polluted.
According to the latest EPA public announcement, 71 of the 96 reservoirs across Taiwan have been classified as Category 2 reservoirs. The new policy relaxes various existing regulations, making way for roads, slag industries, and other high-pollution industries and projects to be built in the vicinity of these reservoirs without requiring environmental inspections. These environmentalists are upset that government agencies did not collect sufficient information and did not do a detailed study before reclassifying these reservoirs. They have called for a decrease in development projects in areas near reservoirs as well as a thorough environmental assessment.
Tien Chiu-chin, a Christian and DPP legislator, was present at this protest and lent her support. She said that the Water Resources Agency had estimated that the accumulation of silt in Tsengwen Reservoir in Tainan in the aftermath of Typhoon Morakot in 2008 had exceeded the amount of silt accumulated over the course of 20 years. She further underscored that the UN had classified Taiwan as one of the countries in the world experiencing extreme water shortages. These facts should be reminders to everyone that Taiwan needs to improve its environmental protection and soil preservation and approach these tasks as urgent matters. Hence, she cannot fathom why the EPA would relax regulations concerning reservoirs.
Photo by Lin Yi-ying