TWC re­veals 1.41 mil­lion tons of wa­ter stolen last year

The China Post - - FRONT PAGE -

Wa­ter theft has been a se­ri­ous prob­lem in Tai­wan, with last year’s loss reg­is­tered from crack­downs amount­ing to an equiv­a­lent of at least a day’s sup­ply from the Shih­men Dam, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial statis­tics.

Con­firmed cases of wa­ter thefts amounted to 1.41 mil­lion tons last year, but the ac­tual amount stolen must have been much larger, the Tai­wan Wa­ter Corp. (TWC) said.

The TWC’s work is to man­age the wa­ter sup­ply to house­holds and fac­to­ries, and some of its ma­jor du­ties in­clude curb­ing leakages and thefts, par­tic­u­larly when the coun­try is fac­ing its worst drought in decades.

The amount of wa­ter be­ing stolen in con­firmed thefts ev­ery year has stayed ap­prox­i­mately the same over the past sev­eral years, and the sit­u­a­tion in cen­tral re­gion cov­er­ing Taichung, Changhua and Nan­tou was worst last year, ac­cord­ing to the TWC.

The re­gion reg­is­tered wa­ter thefts to­tal­ing 467,000 tons last year. Other ar­eas that also saw ram­pant wa­ter thefts in­cluded Kaoh­si­ung, Ping­tung and Pen- ghu, with the three ar­eas to­tal­ing 264,000 tons.

Many of the of­fend­ers are heavy wa­ter users, such as fac­to­ries and fish farms, and there are also un­der­ground fac­to­ries which are de­nied the of­fi­cial sup­ply.

One re­peat of­fender who runs an un­der­ground fac­tory was fined NT$1 mil­lion for his first wa­ter theft, but he did not stop. He was cited by the United Evening News as say­ing that he can­not ap­ply for an of­fi­cial wa­ter me­ter and has to con­tinue steal­ing wa­ter to keep his fac­tory run­ning.

TWC work­ers said crack­ing down on wa­ter thefts is no easy job and it could be danger­ous.

Peo­ple tie their dogs to their me­ters to de­ter TWC in­spec­tors from check­ing them, the work­ers said.

One TWC in­spec­tor re­mem­bers a time when he opened the cover of a wa­ter me­ter there was a snake in­side.

An­other said he had to be ac­com­pa­nied by po­lice when in­spect­ing a shrimp fish­ing joint that was run by a gang­ster in New Taipei City.

Some­times of­fend­ers show their com­mu­nity spirit in a neg­a­tive way. TWC work­ers said that when they were driv­ing around Penghu car­ry­ing out in­spec­tion tours last year, some com­mu­ni­ties would an­nounce on their loud­speaker sys­tem when their ve­hi­cles ap­proached: “The TWC are here, for those who are steal­ing wa­ter, turn off the taps.”

Ac­cord­ing to the TWC, fines for wa­ter thefts range from a min­i­mum equiv­a­lent to the amount stolen to three months’ to a year’s wa­ter bills that of­fend­ers would have to pay if they were not steal­ing.

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