Taiwan faces its most severe water shortage in 56 years; sea goddess, air force C-130s called upon

WION Web Team
Taipei, Taiwan Published: Mar 19, 2021, 12:11 PM(IST)

Taiwanese praying to sea goddess Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The drought is worse across a band of western Taiwan, including the major metropolises of Hsinchu, home to many of Taiwan's renowned tech firms, Taichung in the centre of the island, and Tainan and Kaohsiung to the south.

Taiwan is facing the island’s most severe water shortage in 56 years and has set up an emergency response centre to combat the drought. The country has also set up multiple wells, seeded clouds and besought a gold-faced sea goddess to help the sub-tropical island ride out its most serious drought in about half a century.

The drought is worse across a band of western Taiwan, including the major metropolises of Hsinchu, home to many of Taiwan's renowned tech firms, Taichung in the centre of the island, and Tainan and Kaohsiung to the south.

Water levels in four major reservoirs have fallen to around or below one-tenth of capacity. Some chipmakers are buying water by the truckload for their foundries, though supplies so far are generally continuing uninterrupted for households.

Authorities have been piping in water from other reservoirs to the main one for Hsinchu, but it was still not enough and they were now drilling wells.

Officials hope the 'plum rain' season that starts around late spring will help, but in the meantime are taking more drastic steps.

In Taichung earlier this month the Water Resources Agency took the unusual step of sending its top official for central Taiwan to a three-hour religious ceremony to pray for rain, the first time the event has been held in 58 years.

Some 3,000 people, mostly farmers as well as Taichung Mayor Lu Shiow-yen, prayed to the sea goddess Mazu, her gold face signifying her divinity and a popular deity believed to bring good fortune and end drought.

Also, Taiwan's air force has used C-130 transport aircraft to seed the clouds, while water resources officials back up the effort from the ground by firing chemicals into the air. Agriculture accounts for more than 70 per cent of water consumption in Taiwan, to grow rice and fruit like mango and pineapple.

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