The EPA noted that fees for water pollution control are set forth on the principle that polluters should pay in hopes of using the system to reduce the amount of pollutant discharge. The average household, when compared to an enterprise, is largely unable to install the proper equipment to improve the discharge of wastewater. Therefore, collecting a fee from this sort of unit will have limited results in terms of restricting the discharge of pollution.
Fully improving wastewater discharge from households requires the installation of thorough sewage systems. However, a public sewage system is a public construction service that the government provides. To collect water pollution fees from households is clearly unfair. Government policy should focus on encouraging local governments to proactively construct sewage systems, as the construction of sewers is the responsibility of local governments. Local governments should also increase the number of households that can connect to the system and collect usage fees.
Based on the above-mentioned considerations, the EPA made revisions to regulations for water pollution fees found in Articles 11 and 44 of the Water Pollution Control Act. The key points of the revisions are as follows:
1. The targets for collecting household water pollution fees have been revised to be households that have not complied and connected to the sewer system within the usage areas of sewage systems as announced in the Sewerage Act ( 下水道法 ). Public and community-use sewage systems are excluded.
2. In accordance with the Sewerage Act and the Local Government Act ( 地方制度法 ), the construction and management of sewage systems as well as the collection of fees are the responsibility of local governments. There are significant differences between sewage systems constructed in different counties or cities. Local governments are authorized to collect household water pollution fees and impose penalties in order to have fee collection based on local conditions and carried out with the usage fees for the area’s sewage system. In addition, the revisions adjust the rate of water pollution fees for households to be equal with the fees for sewage system usage. This change can lower the costs of tax collections, raise administrative efficacy and reduce frustrations from incorrect calculations for fees.
3. The entire collected household water pollution fees go to local governments. The fees are to be used for sewage system construction and improving household wastewater.
Groundwater is an important water resource, and in some regions it is used for fisheries and agriculture or serves as a source for drinking water. In order to prevent wastewater and sewage from entering groundwater bodies and affecting water sources, the EPA removed regulations tied to applying for permits to inject wastewater into groundwater. The highest fine for illegally injecting wastewater into groundwater bodies is NT$6 million. Regulations were added regarding punishments for wastewater or sewage containing substances harmful to human health being injected to groundwater bodies. The offender will be subject to one year to seven years imprisonment and detention and/or a fine of NT$200,000 to NT$20 million.
Besides these revisions, in terms of practical management of wastewater, the EPA added a basis for punishments tied to the limited period for improving water deterioration. When an enterprise discharges wastewater and sewage with emission concentration or the hydrogen ion concentration index exceeding those of the original discharged being punished, it will be fined for each excess. This will prevent enterprises from not improving or controlling the pollution during the improvement period.
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)