Water head gave OK to supply: Ko
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je ( ) yesterday said that the city’s water department head was ultimately behind the decision to supply murky water after Typhoon Soudelor hit last week.
The city administration has been under fire as tap water in the Taipei area remains impure due to high concentrations of silt and questions over crisis management remained unanswered.
Ko made the statement after a post municipal meeting press conference yesterday, seeming to place the responsibility over the recent outcry on Chen Chin-hsiang (
) who heads the Taipei City Water Department.
The mayor added
that Chen had submitted the first version of an evaluation report of how the department managed the typhoon which also included a new standard operating procedure for future incidents. Ko indicated that Chen’s plan included “too many probabilities” which would hamper the implementation of actions, and was hence sent back to him for revisions.
According to Ko, starting from this past Thursday, once water murkiness exceeds a grade of 6000 NTUs ( Nephelometric Turbidity Units), the city will move to reduce water pressure as well as the volume of water let into the system. He said that a new evaluation report will be made public next week in order to address continuing public concerns over the issue.
In response to comments made by former Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan ( ) that silted water was unrelated to soil conservation, Ko rebutted by indicating that heavy rains in the area had muddied the water of the Nanshi River ( ) while stating that a report on the issue would indicate the reasons behind the murky water.
In response to allegations that the water department was put on hold for over two hours while awaiting a decision on the social chat application Line over whether to pump water, Ko said he had personally asked Chen to confirm that this had not taken place. Ko did not elaborate on reporters’ questions on a possible public releasing of Line chat transcripts involving the decision-making of the city government during the typhoon.
Kuomintang ( KMT) Legislator and caucus Deputy SecretaryGeneral Lee Gui- min ( ) blasted Ko and his administrative team for failing to govern the city according to regulations, leading to city residents having to endure the aftermath and subsequent health risks due to the poor drinking water quality.
The mayor came under fire earlier this week when it was revealed by his wife’s Facebook account that he spent most of his time at his residence during the typhoon’s sweep across Taiwan, rather than at the city’s emergency command center. Ko defended himself by stating he was in command at the time and used Line to conduct municipal matters and coordinate efforts in response to the typhoon.