Weird News

Sun Moon Lake, an iconic tourist spot in Taiwan is turning into barren wasteland as the island is experiencing its worst water shortage crisis in 56 years due to months of scant rainfall last year.

A stitched photo of the nine-stacked-frogs statue in Sun Moon Lake before and during the drought. /CFP
Sun Moon Lake, an iconic tourist spot in Taiwan
is turning into barren wasteland as the island is experiencing its
worst water shortage crisis in 56 years due to months of scant rainfall
last year.
As the largest natural freshwater lake on the island,
the water level of the lake has plunged by 12 meters, hitting a record
low with some parts of the lake drying up completely. Netizens have been
drawn to the drastically altered landscape, posting photos with densely
bold cracks seen on the lakebed, with captions such as “Sailing on
Land” and the “Sun Mook Lake Prairie.”
The management department of the lake has closed the park since April 1 due to safety concerns.
This
is the worst drought Taiwan is facing in half a century and the
reservoirs in central and southern Taiwan have nearly bottomed out. If
the current drought continues, major water supply reservoirs in the
island will only have enough water to last two more months, according to
Taiwan officials.
On March 15, Taiwannews.com reported that the
Zengwen Reservoir in Chiayi County was down to just 15.3 percent of its
capacity, Liyutan Reservoir in Miaoli had plummeted to 13.7 percent, and
Techi Reservoir in Deji Reservoir in Taichung was down to just 8.2
percent.
If Plum Rains are unable to replenish reservoirs in
central Taiwan, a red alert will have to be issued in May, according to
local reports.
Local newspapers reported that large water
buckets are selling out and due to water-saving measures, many people
have rushed to buy waterless clothes, clothes that can go weeks without
being washed. Meanwhile, beauty salons and restaurants have said they
simply can’t get enough water to meet their business needs as water
trucks in the region are busy transporting industrial water to big tech
companies that consume large amounts of water.
The island has
stepped up nationwide water restrictions and some areas of Taichung,
Miaoli, and Changhua have been subjected to a suspension of water supply
two days per week on a rotational basis, affecting about one million
people.
In response, Tsai Ing-wen, the regional leader of Taiwan,
has called on residents to conserve water and set up an emergency
response center to deal with the water shortage. But she was criticized
for ignoring the warning of meteorologists who alerted the authority
months ago that the island would face severe water shortage in the
spring.
The ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) is also
under attack due to their approaches to drought alleviation. For
example, the irrigation department joined with a famous temple to pray
to Mazu, the sea goddess, for rainfall. And the economic affairs
department allowed companies to drill emergency wells in a technology
hub to increase their water supply.
Both of the methods were
criticized as “unscientific” as some warned the drilling could cause
land subsidence or damage manufacturing equipment in the park and some
doubted that groundwater levels are likely lower than usual due to the
drought.
November to April is usually the dry season of
the island. After entering the dry season, the central and southern
parts of Taiwan, confined by its terrain, have little rainfall. If the
region doesn’t get enough water in the rainy season, drought is likely
to occur. Last year, due to the short period of Plum Rains and the
absence of typhoons, the rainfall on the island was scarce.
But
experts believe human reasons are also to be blamed. For example,
streams on the island are short and fast, and if the water is not
properly stored in reservoirs, a water shortage crisis will occur in the
dry season. In Taiwan, there is a serious problem of reservoir
sediments, and the water leakage rate is high due to various factors
like urban constructions, earthquakes, overloading of traffic vehicles
and obsolete pipelines. 
The problems have existed for many years,
and many believe the regional authority failed to devise measures to
prepare the island for droughts and lacks long-term planning for the
utilization of water resources.
Lee Hong-yuan, a Taiwan water
expert, told reporters that “Taiwan has no right to lack water” as the
annual rainfall of the island is 2.6 times the world average.
He
believes that the root cause of the water shortage is the extreme waste
of water resources and ignorance of water recycling. He said that the
agriculture industry uses 70 percent of Taiwan’s water, but for long
time water on the island has been delivered through old irrigation
channels, which causes half of the water to leak and a quarter to
evaporate during transportation, meaning only 25 percent of the water
reaches the fields.