Marc Reisner's Cadillac Desert remains one of the great books on water policy, and one of the things he notes in it is how water projects develop a life of their own, with justifications and shapes shifting over time, but with the drive to build the dam thing no matter how bad a dog it is never dying. Are we seeing this in the Gaoping Great Lakes Project? The Taipei Times reports on a protest:
Environmentalists and farmers from Pingtung County and Greater Kaohsiung yesterday staged a protest against the Gaoping Great Lakes (高屏大湖) project, which they fear would divert water used for farming and damage local soybean production.The lakes have a depth of just 12m. This website observes that not only are the soybean farmers and workers in the area protesting, but in Ligang the Thai Shrimp farming and vegetable farming will also suffer from water shortages if pond E is built. Because locals are so dead set against the project, the legislature has canceled the budget on several occasions, it reports.
A project of the Water Resources Agency’s (WRA) Southern Region Water Resources Office, it would build five manmade lakes in a nearly 700-hectare area covering many farms at the border of Pingtung County’s Ligang Township (里港) and Greater Kaohsiung’s Meinong District (美濃).
The project was originally part of the Jiyang artificial lake project, which passed an environmental impact assessment in 2002, for cross-border water channeling and to save water during dry seasons.
After severe flooding in the south caused by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009, the project was modified to become part of a southern Taiwan water stabilization project by the WRA. It was further modified into a three-phase project, with the first artificial lake — covering about 200 hectares — being constructed in the first stage.
The project aims to channel excess water from the Nanhua Reservoir (南化水庫) and the Gaoping River Dam (高屏溪攔河堰), but the only time the two areas have excess water is in summer, Yang said.
Moreover, since the target areas do not suffer from a water shortage during summer, he questioned why the government should spend billions of dollars to construct manmade lakes that would have very limited benefits.
Another view (source).
Another article states the government's position on the young soybean impact:
水利署進一步指出，農委會資料顯示，我國毛豆「複種面積」於100年度達7,338公頃，其中位於高屏大湖第一期工程（E湖區）範圍內之「種植面積」為188.86公頃，佔全國毛豆種植面積2.57%，亦僅佔高屏地區種植毛豆之土地面積2,497公頃的7.56%，故高屏大湖計畫並未排擠原有毛豆種植面積。The irrigation authorities, citing the Council of Agriculture, say that the total area of the first and second soybean crop is 7,338 hectares, of which the initial development, E area, represents just 188.86 hectares, or 2.57% of the (re)planted area, or 7.56% of the Pingtung young soybean land area of 2,497 hectares.
The farmers respond that the first crop and the second crop are not identical -- the government is engaging in mathematical sleight of hand, lowballing the estimate by playing with the first crop vs the total area planted. According to the farmers, soybeans are planted in spring and fall in Taiwan. Thus, the effective area lost to the farmers is 367 hectares (twice the government's estimate) because two season's worth of production, first and second crop, is lost.
Of course, that estimate is only for the E area, phase 1. Once phase 2 and phase 3 are completed, the farmers point out, they will cover 500 hectares -- meaning that two crops of production totalling 500 hectares are lost, effectively 1000 hectares of production. Total soybean production in the area is only 2,497 hectares for all seasons.
That article says that some soybean farmers are arguing the project isn't about water at all, but about gravel. As the project plan makes clear (google "1.2 開發行為之內容" and see section 1.2), creation of the lakes, 12 meters deep, will necessitate the removal of millions of cubic of meters of gravel, a material in high demand in Taiwan, which whoever owns the land and sells the gravel can make an easy and quick profit off of. More need not be said....
ADDED: See good comment below arguing main issue is really tiny amount of water provided. I was really just curious to understand why such an obvious dog of a project was still being completed.
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