Taiwan rations water, drills extra wells amid record drought

International

In this photo released by Nantou County Government, a boat is stranded on a dried lakebed in Sun Moon Lake in Nantou county in central Taiwan on April 23, 2021. Some households in Taiwan are going without running water two days a week after a months-long drought dried up the island’s reservoirs and a popular tourist lake. (Nantou County Government via AP)

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Some households in Taiwan are going without running water two days a week after a months-long drought dried up the island’s reservoirs and a popular tourist lake.

Authorities are drilling extra wells and using military planes to dump cloud-seeding chemicals in hopes of triggering rain. The government has allocated money to extract drinkable water from the sea.

Farmers who need to flood paddies to raise rice, lotus root and other thirsty crops have been hit hard.

“The lotus flowers and seeds I planted don’t produce well,” said Chen Chiu-lang, a farmer in the southern city of Tainan, standing in a dry paddy field.

Rainfall in the seven months through February was less than half the historic average after no typhoons hit Taiwan in 2020 for the first time in 56 years, according to the government.

Households in areas under top-level restrictions go without running water two days per week. They include Taiwan’s second-biggest city, Taichung, with 2.8 million people, and Miaoli and Changhua counties.

Parts of Sun Moon Lake, a popular tourist spot, have dried up.

“Our business is 90% less than last year,” said Wang Ying-shen, chairman of a group for businesspeople who rent boats to visitors.

Light rain fell in some areas this week, but Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua warned Thursday restrictions might be tightened.

Other cities are restricting total water supplies for each customer. They include Hsinchu, one of the biggest global enters for semiconductor manufacturing, and Tainan and Kaohsiung in the south.

The economy ministry allocated 2.5 billion New Taiwan dollars ($88 million) in March for well drilling and emergency sea water desalination facilities.

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