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Taiwan Panorama / Article:A Tale of Two Reservoirs--Greater Taipei's Water Woes
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1996/11/p.006
A Tale of Two Reservoirs--Greater Taipei's Water Woes
(Chang Chin-ju/photos by Vincent Chang/tr. by Robert Taylor)
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Many people have gone for a day out at the Shihmen Reservoir, to enjoy a meal of "fresh-killed fish prepared three different ways"; but we've never heard of anyone spending their leisure time at the Feitsui Reservoir.

Spreading out the map of Taiwan, we see how the Tanshui River system spreads across northern Taiwan like a gigantic hand. Of its two major tributaries, the Pei-shih River in the north is cut off halfway by the high Feitsui Dam, while the Tahan River to the south is blocked by the Shih-men Dam. These structures have created two enormous artificial lakes, which supply one of life's most basic necessities to a third of Taiwan's population.

Of these two great reservoirs which provide drinking water for Greater Taipei, the Shihmen Reservoir is a scenic spot well known inside and outside Taiwan. But the Feitsui Reservoir is not open to tourists, and signs reading "Strictly No Entry" hang across its gates.

These two reservoirs may seem very different, but in fact they share a similar fate.

Leaving the broad Second Freeway at Lungtan in Taoyuan County and following the masses of signs reading "Fresh-Killed Fish Prepared Three Ways," we arrive at the Shihmen Reservoir. The glittering waters and verdant mountains are embellished by a golden-exteriored hotel with covered walkways, and among the green trees one can glimpse restaurants and houses. At weekends and holidays, tourists trek from one to another of Shihmen's "Eight Sights," and pleasure craft criss-cross the surface of the lake. The reservoir is the source of mains water for Taipei County, Taoyuan County and City and parts of Hsinchu County.

Taking the road for the Feitsui Reservoir from Hsintien, for safety's sake we often have to slow down on the narrow, winding mountain road. When we take a left turn into the reservoir compound, all signs of human habitation abruptly disappear, and our ears are filled with the sound of cicadas and running water. Here, far from the madding crowd, lies the Feitsui Reservoir, which is responsible for the public water supply to the nation's capital, Taipei City.

Two reservoirs-one to the south, one to the north, one bustling with activity, one silent and peaceful, one administered by the Taiwan Provincial Government, the other run by Taipei City. They are Taiwan's second and third-largest manmade lakes.

This summer, in the wake of Typhoon Herb, which brought 30-year record rainfall, the water level in both reservoirs rose past the warning mark, and both had to discharge excess water. Ten days later, when Taipei County councillors flew by helicopter to inspect water resource areas, the surface of the Shihmen Reservoir was a seething mass of brown water. But by stark contrast, the waters of the Feitsui Reservoir were clear and green.

Next, the Legislative Yuan held review hearings to discuss why Taoyuan was unable to use the water brought by Typhoon Herb-why the water of the Shihmen Reservoir was so turbid that the mains water supply had to be shut off in downstream Taipei County and Taoyuan County, while the Feitsui Reservoir was not affected by soil erosion during the rainstorms, and was able to continue supplying water to Taipei City uninterrupted.

Who is the cleanest of them all?

In fact, it is nothing new for people to be comparing these two water supplies. Seven years ago when a Ms. Chen of Taipei City married into a family in Panchiao, Taipei County, on her first day in her new home her mother-in-law told her three "golden rules" of the household: on filling a pail of water, she should let the solids in it settle out before pouring it off for drinking water; water for drinking must be boiled at least five minutes; and on first turning on the tap in the morning she must let it run for several minutes. "My mother-in-law says the water in Panchiao has far more impurities and chlorine in it than the water in Taipei City," avers Ms. Chen-and the reason is not that the pipes are old and in disrepair, or that the house's water cistern is dirty, but that "as everyone knows, the water from the Feitsui Reservoir is much cleaner."

As if to confirm the intuitions of discerning housewives, in mid-September this year, 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.

"Water Shortage in Taoyuan City Despite Torrential Rain Islandwide"; "Shihmen Reservoir Water Not Fit To Drink"-in recent years most news about the Shihmen Reservoir has not been in the tourism pages. After any typhoon, the water going into waterworks fed by the Shihmen Reservoir is full of mud, the settling tanks become silt tanks, and the water discharge pipes become sand discharge pipes. "It's as if the waterworks had turned into a sand merchant's," says a staff member in the water resources department at one waterworks.

Every time the dry season comes around, the volume of water stored in the Shihmen Reservoir falls short of demand and it is drained almost dry. In January 1994, in view of the low water level in the reservoir, the water company decided-to the great displeasure of Taiwan provincial governor James Soong-that parts of Taoyuan, Hsin-chu and Taipei counties would only be supplied with water one day in three.

By contrast, Mayor Chen Shui-bian has proclaimed with pride that Taipei City's water supply is managed far better than that of other counties and cities. It has never suffered the ignominy of headlines like "Water Supplies Cut Off Due To Heavy Rain." Whereas the rest of Taiwan has been hit by repeated water shortages, the Feitsui Reservoir has never let Taipei City residents face the nightmare of going without.

"Of 12 reservoirs, only the Feitsui Reservoir has maintained its water purity levels." Every time the reservoirs are inspected, the Feitsui Reservoir is always singled out for praise. When people from Kaohsiung, which is said to have the worst water quality in all Taiwan, get permission to visit the Feitsui Reservoir, they are always constantly drinking water throughout their visit, and before leaving they don't forget to fill up a few bottles to take home with them.

An unfair comparison

Although the two reservoirs do indeed give people different impressions, the way people are constantly comparing the Shih-men Reservoir with the Feitsui Reservoir is not quite fair.

"The day they finish building a reservoir is the day it begins to die," for when the silt washed into a reservoir by its river reaches its outlet gates, this marks the end of its useful life. "All reservoirs are on a death march," says Professor Hong-Yuan Lee of National Taiwan University's civil engineering department.

In 1964 the Shihmen Dam was completed and the reservoir began to fill with water. But it was not until 1984, when Shihmen was a strapping 20-year-old, that the Feitsui Reservoir first saw the light of day. Maintenance measures can prolong a reservoir's useful life, but Shihmen had been collecting silt for 20 years, and was like an old-timer compared to the young Feitsui Reservoir-they were at quite different stages of life. A reservoir is a semi-closed system: the water entering and leaving it are not in balance, and organic matter which settles in the reservoir causes an "aging" process. The older a reservoir is, the poorer the quality of its water.

Also, the "ailing" Shihmen Reservoir started out with some handicaps compared with Feitsui. Aerial photographs reveal a total area of landslips in the Shihmen Reservoir's catchment area nineteen times greater than in the Feitsui Reservoir's. Shihmen's water catchment area ranges in height from under 200 to over 3000 meters, and this wide spread of elevations makes soil conservation work difficult.

Before the Shihmen Reservoir was completed, engineers estimated that silt would flow into it at a rate of 790,000 cubic meters per year, giving it a useful life of at least 71 years. The reservoir began filling with water in May 1963, but when Typhoon Gloria struck northwestern Taiwan in September of the same year, it washed 20 million cubic meters of silt into the new reservoir, equivalent to one-third of its silt capacity. This knocked 23 years off its life expectancy at a stroke.

The catchment area of the Feitsui Reservoir, which is only 30 kilometers from downtown Taipei City, rises to less than 900 meters, and has relatively flat terrain. Since the reservoir was filled it has collected silt at only two-thirds the originally projected rate.

Too heavy a burden

Former EPA director Jaw Shau-kong recently drew up a list of "seven major problems" behind the Shihmen Reservoir's poor water quality and heavy silting. But only one-the adverse natural geology-is a "congenital defect." The rest are all "acquired dysfunctions."

Jaw begins: "Within the water catchment area there are at least three gravel quarries, whose gravel washing water flows directly into the reservoir; there are seven tourist areas within the catchment area, with applications pending for 10 more; mountain slope land is overexploited; permanent fish farming in the reservoir is accelerating the deterioration in water quality. . . ." Activities planned and managed by humans are the main factors causing the Shihmen Reservoir to lag ever further behind the Feitsui Reservoir.

In contrast to the many negative judgements of it today, the Shihmen Reservoir had very proud beginnings. The year 1958, in which work on the Shihmen Reservoir began, was also the year of the August 23rd Bombardment of Kinmen. Menaced by the communist mainland and with international support uncertain, the ROC also faced such factors as an unprecedented rise in the demand for electricity. The Chen Hsin Hsin Wen Pao (now the China Times) reported at the time how Chiang Meng-lin, chairman of the Joint Commission on Rural Reconstruction (the forerunner of the Council of Agriculture), followed the progress of the dam's construction closely even on his deathbed. The memories people have of the reservoir are not only holiday memories. Reports such as "Work Completed on Shihmen Dam" and "Work Starts on Central Cross-Island Highway," grouped together under the banner headline "Government and People Stand Together to Defeat Difficulties," were the cause of almost universal rejoicing.

The Shihmen Reservoir helped rally the nation, and as well as providing a public water supply, it was also given the "four great objectives and five great functions" of supplying irrigation water to farmland in Taoyuan County, preventing floods, generating electricity, promoting tourism and so on. This made it the one among Taiwan's reservoirs expected to fill the largest number of roles.

But with rapid development in Taipei and Taoyuan counties, the area of farmland relying on the Shihmen Reservoir for irrigation water has dwindled, while the human population in these areas which relies on public water supplies has grown from 150,000 to almost two million. Yet the reservoir's primary role has never been clearly defined.

For 30 years, the water catchment area of the Shihmen Reservoir played the role of a "special scenic area," in which, for instance, the building of golf courses was allowed. The upstream areas of the catchment basin were designated a water resource protection zone in the 1980s, but as there is no integrated management of the upper, middle and lower reaches of Taiwan's rivers, the powers of the reservoir authorities only reach "as high as the dam": they are only responsible for the areas around the reservoir up to the height of the crest of the dam, while upstream areas are administered by other government departments.

The last two of the seven problems highlighted by Jaw Shau-kong were these: "There is a proliferation of responsible government agencies, from the Taiwan Forestry Bureau in the rivers' upper reaches to the Shihmen Reservoir Administration Bureau, the Taiwan Soil and Water Conservation Bureau, the Water Conservancy Bureau, Taoyuan County Government, and environmental protection agencies. The catchment area is governed by a complex set of laws and regulations including 17 central government laws and 10 provincial and city laws." A Ministry of the Interior official says another factor is that development around the reservoir involves numerous Taoyuan County urban and rural townships. The local government has constantly issued construction permits, and the provincial government has done nothing to prevent them.

Every effort has been made to develop Shihmen's tourist potential. The dam bridges the gap between two mountains, and on the "Fairy Island" to the left, aboriginal dance shows used to be put on, while on the "Golden Island" to the right, a children's Fairytale World was created. Above the dam, from what is jokingly called the neiku ("inner reservoir"-homophonous with "underpants") one can look down on the waiku ("outer reservoir" or "trousers") below the dam, and one can often see the impressive sight of excess water being released down the spillway. The lake which stretches away 16 kilometers behind the dam is surrounded by hotels, commercial enterprises, restaurants and houses, including the Asialand amusement park and the Lung Chu Wan Resort Center.

Under pressure from the development of neighboring Taipei, Taoyuan County, where the Shihmen Reservoir is located, has used tourism to bolster its economy. In the words of a brochure: "The combination of the fine mountain scenery around the reservoir and a diverse range of tourist attractions make this the northern metropolis's biggest leisure destination." In particular, the Northern Cross-Island Highway, on which work started the year after the dam, follows the reservoir and the upper Tahan River through Taoyuan County's Fuhsing Rural Township and into Hsinchu County's Chienshih Rural Township, finally bringing tourism into the highest reaches of the watershed.

Fuhsing Rural Township, with its entirely mountainous terrain, covers one-third of Taoyuan County's area. In the eyes of the county government, this area had nothing to offer but the fine scenery of Mt. Lala, and was the part of the county with the lowest population density and the lowest economic revenue. In the early days of reportage literature in Taiwan, the best known work of the time in the genre, The Dark Settlement-Ssumakussu, described aboriginal life deep in the mountains on the borders of Taoyuan and Hsinchu counties, away from electricity and the other trappings of modern life.

Eaten away

Today, the honey peaches grown in Fuhsing Rural Township can fetch up to NT$500 a kilogram in Taipei City. A farming access road now goes up to Ssumakussu. The forest plantations with their low economic value have been replaced by mono-culture fruit orchards, and vegetable gardens and flower nurseries have spread out along the ridges. Many of the deep and precipitous valleys are now home to trout farms and gravel pits.

In past days when President Chiang Kai-shek looked out from the Mt. Chiaopan Park in Fuhsing Rural Township, what he saw was a duplicate of the scenery of his old home in Xikou Township in Fenghua County, Zhejiang Province, and this is why a special hostel was built there for Chiang's use. But today a different scene meets visitors' eyes: in the dry season the air above the reservoir is thick with dust, gravel trucks thunder back and forth, and the valley is full of illegally built temples, houses and other structures.

In the view of Taoyuan Birdwatching Society chairman Tsou Chen-ming, there are no mountains above the reservoir. "Call those mountains?" he asks. He says mountains should be covered in a thick growth of lush forest, and not with houses or artificially planted orchards with their separate, individual trees.

"By rights, the area within the watershed should not have been allowed to change so much," says an engineer in the Shihmen Reservoir Administration Bureau's soil and water conservation department. As restaurants have gone from serving fresh Shihmen fish three ways to eight ways and even 32 ways, and the upstream "Dark Settlement" has become the "Land of Honey Peaches," invaded by tens of thousands of cars at weekends and holidays, "the Shihmen Reservoir has been eaten away."

Long-term sampling by the Academia Sinica's Institute of Botany shows that the water in the rivers which feed the reservoir has become "obese" with eutrophication. The algae in their waters, which could once only be seen under the microscope, have grown in such large quantities that the surface of the water looks as if it were covered in floating flowers. Effluent from the homes and eateries along the Northern Cross-Island Highway, and organic phosphates and nitrates from fertilizers used in the mountain orchards, filter through into the rivers, and with an excess of nutrients, the clear water has turned cloudy and poisonous algae have gradually proliferated. "Sooner or later it will go the way of Techi Reservoir, which is known as 'Soy Sauce Lake' or 'Poisoned Dragon Pool,'" says Institute of Botany algae researcher Wu Chun-tsung.

In many people's view, the Shihmen Reservoir, with its leisure function, is actually much more capable of arousing people's sympathy than the Feitsui Reservoir, and if controls had been imposed on the burdens placed on its water resources, it could have made people understand where their water comes from, and encouraged them to value it. Tsou Chen-ming, who is also principal of Taoyuan's Chunghsing Elementary School, believes that allowing unbridled and excessive development in the reservoir's water catchment area has made it into an example of how not to protect water sources.

As Professor Tsai Chien-jen of the sociology department at Tunghai University says: "If we do not take action to improve matters until the reservoir's water quality, water sources and capacity are completely ruined, then all we can do is hold a wake."

In 1994, the Ministry of the Interior's Urban Planning Commission expressed the hope that the Shihmen Scenic Area should be returned to the water resource protection zone, and that development there should be reined in across the board. But Legislative Yuan members, local politicians and landowners rushed en masse to intervene, and the plan to "resurrect" Shihmen's water sources was thrown out by the Ministry of the Interior.

In August this year, after the disastrous typhoon, the residential, commercial and recreational zones around the Shihmen Reservoir were finally reduced in size. But large tracts of the land around the reservoir are now in the hands of conglomerates, while the soil and water upstream of the reservoir are in a parlous state. Yang Chung-hsin, an Academia Sinica research fellow and former member of the Urban Planning Commission, says that looking back today, although income from tourism has made some small contribution to the local economy, the cost of recovering the water resources will be even greater.

Rolling back pollution

By the time the idea that reservoirs could have disadvantages as well as advantages began to take hold in Taiwan, it was already the 1980s. When the "next-generation" Feitsui Reservoir was born at this time, people were no longer so excited or so united. Instead the groundbreaking took place in a somewhat awkward atmosphere, amid a controversy over whether such a high dam should be built at all so close to Taipei City.

The Shihmen Reservoir's catchment area had been almost uninhabited before development began. But by 1984, land prices in Taiwan had already shot up several times, and along the Peishih River where the Fei-tsui Dam was to be built, apart from Pinglin which had long been famous throughout Taiwan for its Wenshan Baozhong tea, many hilltops had already been bought up by construction companies and even educational institutions.

After restrictions on construction in the water resource protection zone were imposed in 1982, Chinese Culture University and Shih Chien College continuously pressed for the reinstatement of their planned campuses inside the zone. "Many conglomerates were also watching and waiting. If the schools' plans were given the go-ahead, they planned to push hard to get development restrictions relaxed." Yang Chung-hsin, who has a thorough knowledge of the development of town and country planning in Taiwan, says there is a long story which could be told about the history of the Feitsui Reservoir.

From the beginning, what was expected of the Feitsui Reservoir was for it to "let northern Taiwan bid goodbye to water shortages." There were no conflicting demands such as tourism or irrigation. The rise of environmental consciousness also gave it a good opportunity, and its management was not split up between a plethora of agencies as was the case with Shihmen. When the Feitsui Reservoir was being filled, a "Taipei Water Resources Commission" was set up. "Building permits in the protection zone have to be approved by the commission, and this gives the management of the Feitsui Reservoir the edge," a Shihmen Reservoir employee says enviously, adding that as well as having this agency to protect the reservoir's water catchment area, "they also have Taiwan's only river police force."

As the Feitsui Reservoir filled with water, there also began a battle to protect its water resources. There was an instance of eutrophication, but amid calls from environmentalists the Ministry of National Defense relocated a military prison which had been discharging raw sewage into the river. Next to the Taipei-Ilan Highway, a former Control Yuan commissioner had led a movement to build a temple and develop tourism, and it was only with great effort that the buildings were prevented from spreading without limit. The commission also assisted pleasure craft operators who originally operated on the river, and pig farmers along the river, to change their line of business, and successfully moved away several thousand pigs, which produce seven times as much excreta as humans. "From then on algal blooms ceased," says Wu Chun-tsung, who has conducted water quality monitoring tests in both reservoirs. As a result, "the Feitsui Reservoir's water quality really is different from Shihmen's."

Feitsui has even been particularly popular with the "Plant a Tree to Save Your Water Supply" campaigns put on by non-governmental groups around reservoirs throughout Taiwan, and has become one of the areas where trees have been regularly planted over a long period.

In a report entitled "Feitsui and Shih-men-Comparison of a Protected Reservoir and a Reservoir Open to General Development," Professor Chiang Tsun-kuo of NTU's agricultural engineering department notes that in fact the developed areas upstream of the Feitsui Reservoir are larger in area than those above the Shihmen Reservoir. But, he says: "Shihmen has developed towards the bad, while Feitsui has developed towards the good."

Surveys have shown that Greater Taipei residents who drink water from the Feitsui Reservoir believe that the quality of their water supply is the best anywhere in Taiwan. The upper reaches of the Peishih River receive rainfall all year round. The spring rains, plum rains, typhoon rains and northeast monsoon rains are a powerful force for soil erosion, but in the ten years since it was filled, the Feitsui Reservoir's water storage capacity has not yet been seriously affected by silting.

Doing battle with silt

Over the same ten years, the Shihmen Reservoir has waged a bitter and difficult struggle against silt. In 1985 the reservoir administration bureau signed contracts with seven dredging companies, which began dredging silt around the clock. Over a decade they fetched out some 10 million cubic meters of sediment from above and below the dam. But with silt flowing into the reservoir at an average rate of 1.5 million tonnes a year, the dam was still filling up faster than it could be dredged.

What they dredged out of the reservoir is "mud, not sand or gravel," says Professor Chen Hsin-hsiung of NTU's forestry department. This gooey silt sticks tenaciously to excavator shovels, but does not solidify easily. Thus it cannot be sold to gravel operators for building use. Nor is it suitable to supply the pottery works in Taipei County's Yingko Township, because it contains too many impurities, which make pottery crack during firing.

No use could be found for the silt, and because of the difficulty of acquiring new land, in June of this year, after the 14 silt dumps which had been built at a cost of NT$700 million were full, the battle between humans and silt came to a decisive end as the weary human troops withdrew and the dredging machines fell silent.

The policy of trapping silt upstream in the Tahan River has also achieved little. Over 100 silt trap dams large and small have been built across the river, standing out in the landscape like slashes made with a machete. But most of them filled up as soon as they were built, and "almost the only one still functioning as a silt trap is the Junghua Dam," says Chen Hsin-hsiung.

Scholars estimate that the 133-meter-high Shihmen Dam has an actual depth of water today of less than 40 meters, and the effective storage capacity above the dam's outlet is less than half its original size.

The torrential rain of tropical rainstorms washes the upstream sand and gravel over the silt traps, through the reservoir and down to the plains. In Panchiao, which suffered severe flooding this summer, one auto repair shop owner says that when the seats from cars which had been immersed in the flood water were hosed down with mains water, mud and sand were still oozing out of the upholstery even after an hour or two of hosing.

As the silt rises higher behind the Shih-men Dam and its water storage capacity diminishes, it becomes ever more prone to drying up, flooding and turbidity. In the drought two years ago, an Earth God temple which had been drowned back when the reservoir was first filled with water came up for air, and the lake's familiar expanse of water became a shortcut for gravel trucks which raced upstream across the hard, cracked mud of its dry bed.

But though on one day the reservoir bottom may be exposed to view, when the rains come, in a day or two the dam quickly fills to overflowing. Even though southern Taiwan's rainfall is even more erratic and the south is even more prone to torrential downpours, the frequency with which the Shih-men Dam discharges water down its spillway ranks first among Taiwan's reservoirs. The phrase "the Shihmen Reservoir is releasing flood water" has become a euphemism for "your fly is open."

As for the dam's four main functions, including water storage and flood prevention, it is no longer up to the task. Professor Chiang Shih-chiao of NTU's geography department says that according to meteorological records, northeasterly typhoons always bring large quantities of rain, so as Typhoon Herb approached the reservoir should have been emptied in readiness. But the reservoir administration bureau feared that if the rain didn't come as expected and this resulted in a water shortage come the dry season, they would once again become the butt of public anger. When the water really did come, the downstream areas which were already flooded were also subjected to a release of water from Shihmen, adding insult to injury. "Is that what they call flood prevention?" was the cry which went up.

Thirty-three years ago Typhoon Gloria almost breached the Shihmen Dam, and all the engineers stood on crest of the dam, ready to perish with it. This time, after Typhoon Herb, people standing on top of the dam were also filled with foreboding: "This time it's going to cost us." Shaking his head, a contractor from another area told how on seeing the lake covered in trees and garbage washed down from the mountains, he had bid to clear the lake surface for NT$1 million plus. He hired 20 workers who fished out 20 tons of garbage, but: "How come the more we hoist out, the more keeps coming?"

The proper operation of a reservoir depends entirely on the protection of the upstream water catchment area. Therefore the Shihmen Reservoir, which everyone points the finger at, is in fact the greater victim. But the Shihmen Reservoir's problems of no coherent management of its catchment area and the lack of a clear delimitation of powers between various agencies, are ones which are a headache for reservoirs throughout Taiwan, and the Feitsui Reservoir is no exception.

Squabbling over water

Although the Feitsui Reservoir has a water resource commission to manage its catchment area, the reservoir is administered by Taipei City Government, while its catchment area includes parts of Taipei County's Wulai, Pinglin and Hsintien planning zones, with over 10,000 residents.

Not long ago, Taipei City mayor Chen Shui-bian accused the now Minister of the Interior Lin Feng-chen of having allowed excessive development within the Feitsui Reservoir's water catchment area while he was chief executive of Taipei County. But Lin retorted that for the construction of the Feitsui Reservoir, as much as a third of Taipei County's area had been designated a water resource protection zone, and that "the people of Taipei County selflessly sacrificed a great deal." Taipei City residents should show some gratitude, and not just go accusing others.

Furthermore, the price paid by the Feitsui Reservoir's "consumers" is the cheapest in all Taiwan. In Taiwan Province, more than NT$9 is charged per unit of water, but in Taipei City the rate is NT$7. A report by the Industrial Technology Research Institute, published in June 1996 by the Ministry of Economic Affairs, stated that in 1995 residents of Taipei City used an average of 360 liters of water per person per day, almost a third more than the 231 liters used by residents of Taiwan Province. Having the cleanest and the cheapest water supply has led to consumers' being "the most wasteful."

In the eyes of Provincial Assembly members, their own provincial constituents drink low-quality water from the Shihmen Reservoir with its erratic flow, yet are expected to be the strict guardians of Taipei City's water resource protection zone. Thus at least one assembly member has proposed that it would be better to take back the protection zone, or even to buy the Feitsui Reservoir. That way not only would Taiwan Province residents gain a source of clean water, but the province could also sell water to Taipei City and thus replenish its own coffers.

"Taiwan Province says we manage too strictly, but Taipei City says we don't manage strictly enough," says Allan Chang, a division chief at the Taipei Water Resource Commission. The Taiwan Province residents who live in the water catchment area find it galling that they, who number only 10,000 or so, have to suffer so many restrictions even if they just want to alter their houses, yet no-one does anything about the refuse brought into the Wulai and Yentzu Lake areas by thousands upon thousands of Taipei City residents at weekends and holidays.

Someone has voiced the opinion that not opening the Feitsui Reservoir to sightseers means that "people don't see its pollution problems." Every year, the Feitsui Reservoir Administration Bureau spends NT$1 million on clearing out garbage which is washed into the reservoir from upstream, and the ri

 
 
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