Taiwan's severe water crisis intensified by climate change.
- April 14, 2023
- Posted by: Sinead Sprigg
- Category: Environmental, Global, Water Issues, Asia
Taiwan is facing a severe water crisis, which has been intensified by climate change, according to experts.
As an island, Taiwan is reliant on its annual typhoon season to supply rainwater to meet its industrial and domestic needs. However, climate change is affecting typhoon intensity and the Pacific’s typhoon pathways, meaning Taiwan cannot rely on typhoons and heavy rain for water supply in the future.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has already stated that the frequency of severe droughts in Taiwan will increase. Currently, the country’s reservoirs can only hold 6.2 billion tonnes of water, while sediment occupies up to 30% of their capacity. Building new dams is considered politically unpopular due to their environmental impact. The agricultural and semiconductor industries, which are two of Taiwan’s largest industries, are also significant water users.
Over two-thirds of the island’s water is used in agriculture, with rice cultivation and tropical fruit being the largest contributors. Water conservation would require farmers to adopt new irrigation methods, which could be a challenge for the sector, which is dominated by small holders.
Meanwhile, the semiconductor industry accounts for around 20% of Taiwan’s water use. The industry’s needs could potentially be met by desalination plants, but there are concerns that the price of desalination could be unaffordable. The government is considering paying farmers to switch one of their rice harvests to a less water-intensive crop and investing in smart irrigation gates to reduce water leakage.
Other potential solutions include wastewater reclamation plants, deeper wells, and technology to measure soil moisture.