Water, air and sunlight are the three basic elements for sustaining life, and the quality of drinking water is directly related to human health. With the improvement of the quality of life, the demand for drinking water quality is becoming increasingly stringent. Also, due to the development of Taiwan's industry and commerce along with advances in science and technology, various new pollutants have emerged. As drinking water sources have also become more diversified, rapid changes in societal structure and the environment have made the management of drinking water increasingly complex. Moreover, the management of drinking water faces many challenges due to the increasingly erratic water flows of droughts and floods caused by climate change, which result in inconsistent water volumes, deterioration of water quality and difficulties in water resources scheduling. It is therefore necessary to continuously upgrade drinking water management practices in order to ensure the safety and quality of this vital resource.
The Environmental Protection Administration revised and publicized the "Drinking Water Management Act" in 1997, adjusting drinking water management strategies and rules throughout the entire management process from water sources to end users, including: the establishment of drinking water source quality protection areas; prohibition and restriction of pollution in protected areas; formulation of drinking water source quality standards as well as drinking water quality standards; announcement of specifications for chemical agents used for drinking water treatment, and; managing the use and maintenance of stationary continuous water supply equipment. Such measures facilitate multiple checking of the safety and quality of drinking water, and establishes the direction and structure of drinking water management in Taiwan.
Important Drinking Water Management Projects
1. Announcement of drinking water source quality protection areas and required distances from drinking water intake points
In order to protect water sources from pollution, the competent authority shall announce "drinking water source quality protection areas", "the required distance from drinking water intake points", and prohibit polluting acts in protected areas. At present, environmental protection competent authorities at all levels have announced 86 drinking water source quality protection areas and 49 drinking water intake points and their required distances, covering an area of about 380,000 hectares, accounting for 10.72% of Taiwan's total land area.
2. Strengthening drinking water quality management
A list of 68 itemized drinking water quality standards has been announced. The formulation of drinking water quality standards in Taiwan have referred mainly to the standards of the World Health Organization and leading regions/countries such as Europe, the United States and Japan. In addition to supervising local governments in strengthening sampling and testing, the central government also assists local governments with handling inspections for items that are difficult to detect (e.g. substances that affect or may affect human health) to ensure the safety and quality of drinking water.
3. Promoting key inspections and control plans for drinking water
In order to integrate various drinking water management inspection tasks and priorities, the Environmental Protection Administration annually reviews and formulates key inspection and control plans regarding implementation of Drinking Water Management Act provisions by local governments. Over 10,000 samples and tests of tap water have been inspected each year for the past 10 years, and the pass rate has been stable at over 99.5%, indicating that drinking water quality is safe and sound.
4. Strengthening the maintenance and management of drinking water equipment
The Environmental Protection Administration has made clear stipulations to ensure the safety of drinking water from stationary continuous water supply equipment (water dispensers) for public consumption: every dispenser shall be maintained once a month, with maintenance records kept; water quality inspections shall be commissioned every 3 months, the records of which shall be publicly posted, and; environmental protection units shall conduct annual sampling and testing of water quality for more than 3,000 water dispensers.
5. Emerging pollutant screening and control operations
The Environmental Protection Administration has referred to the Contaminant Candidate List (CCL) of the US Environmental Protection Agency in order to: carry out screening operations for emerging pollutants non-listed for drinking water; conduct monitoring, analysis and sampling inspections; establish a toxicological database, and; conduct health risk assessment draft calculations based on the results of the above data, to serve as references for reviewing and revising drinking water quality standards year by year.
6. Promotion and publicity of drinking water safety education
The EPA has strengthened publicity for drinking water safety education, installed water dispensers in Xiaoliuqiu (an offshore island) as a model for reducing consumption of bottled water, and promoted drinking water under the ideas of green living and Water Refill action. In addition, efforts have been made to: update and optimize the functions of the "Drinking Water Global Information Network"; provide barrier-free and responsive web page functions; maintain the security of the information management system, and; compile and upload drinking water quality science tips and related publicity pictures and narrative cards for the public to conveniently conduct visual searches and apply the information in publicity materials related to drinking water safety.
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)