Taiwan mulling surcharge for large industrial water consumers

Taipei,) Premier Su Tseng-chang (???) said Thursday that the government is considering a surcharge for the biggest water consuming industries in the country to encourage conservation, as Taiwan is now in the grips of a dire water shortage.

The idea is to impose a surcharge on some 1,817 heavy industrial users that consume more than 10,000 cubic meters of water per month, Su said.

Such a move can be initiated by the government under the terms of the Water Act, he said.

According to Article 84-1 of Water Act, the central government "may impose a water conservation charge on users if the water usage exceeds a certain volume," to encourage the sustainable use of water resources.

The water conservation fees collected by the government should be put into the Water Resources Operation Fund to carry out water resource management, water recycling, and water conservation, according to the Act.

Since the Act was amended in 2016 to allow for the conservation fee, the government has not moved to impose a water surcharge. Taiwan, however, is now experiencing a severe water shortage, due mainly to low rainfall in the second of half of 2020.

According to Water Resources Agency (WRA) Director-General Lai Chien-hsin (???), if a water surcharge is implemented for industrial users, it would vary, depending on the time of year and the type of industry.

Users will also be given a grace period to prepare for the extra costs, and those that succeed in meeting certain water conservation goals may be eligible for a reduced surcharge, Lai said.

He said the WRA will draft a proposal and release the details as soon as possible.

Hinting at the government proposal, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (???) had said Wednesday that if a water surcharge was introduced, it would not take effect before 2022.

Meanwhile, the WRA is taking steps to deal with the current water shortage, and it plans over the long term to build new infrastructure such as water recycling plants, desalination plants, and wells, and to increase the supply to the municipalities that have been most severely affected, according to Lai.

The water shortage this year, concentrated in the middle third of the island, resulted from low rainfall in 2020, when for the first time in 56 years a typhoon did not make landfall on Taiwan.

Currently, the water levels in several reservoirs in central and southern Taiwan are below 15 percent capacity, according to WRA statistics.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel