In line with the National Water Environment Improvement Plan (2017 to 2021) of the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), the EPA has incorporated waterfront environments into its overall planning to improve the quality of water bodies. Out of the budget for all 67 water environment highlight spots maintained by different agencies, the EPA alone has been allocated over NT$6.4 billion. In addition, NT$3.7 billion has been appropriated for the Sustainable Water Quality Promotion Plan (2020 - 2023) to improve the water quality of seven designated rivers from the “seriously polluted” category to the “moderately polluted” category.
Due to people’s increasing concerns and demands on the environment, Taiwan’s current environmental policies are based on maintaining public health and building high-quality living environments with “clean air”, “circular economy”, “water quality improvement”, “sustainable generations”, “environmental friendliness”, and “life quality improvement” as the main focuses. The EPA works with the local governments to implement these policies, among which improving water quality is one of the priorities.
I. Total amount of water pollution generated in Taiwan
The total amount of water pollution generated in Taiwan is approximately 2,075 metric tons/day (based on the biochemical oxygen demands (BOD5)), including 1,044 metric tons/day (50.3%) in municipal wastewater, 470 metric tons/day (22.2%) in industrial wastewater, and 571 metric tons/day (27.2%) in agricultural wastewater. The wastewater is treated by sewage systems or treatment facilities until it meets the Effluent Standards (放流水標準), and is then discharged to water bodies. The total pollution reduction is 1,442 metric tons/day, and the remaining pollution discharged is 634 metric tons/day, meaning 69.5% of the total generated pollution is removed. In the discharged wastewater, municipal wastewater takes up the highest percentage.
Ⅱ. Current implementation of pollution reduction measures
1. Amendments of water pollution control regulations
In 2019, the EPA amended items in the Regulations for Determination of Fines Under the Water Pollution Control Act (違反水污染防治法罰鍰額度裁罰準則), tables and items in the Water Pollution Control Measures and Test Reporting Management Regulations (水污染防治措施及檢測申報管理辦法), and items of the Effluent Standards. The EPA also announced revisions to the Water Pollution Control Act Enterprise Classification and Definitions (水污染防治法事業分類及定義).
2. Collection and usage of water pollution control fees
The collection of water pollution control fees began on 1 May 2015, and the targeted entities included enterprises(including livestock industry) and operators of wastewater systems in industrial parks, as well as operators of dedicated wastewater systems in other designated regions or premises. By 10 February 2020, the total amount collected was NT$1,658,380,000, of which 40% (NT$663,350,000) has been allocated to the EPA and 60% (NT$995,030,000) to local governments.
Improving water body quality
The average national river pollution index (RPI) dropped from 3.9 in 2001 to 2.47 in 2019, showing an improvement trend in the river water quality. In 2019, there were ten monitoring stations with average RPI showing severe pollution levels, fewer than that in 2018 and 2017.
Reducing household wastewater pollution
The EPA has been coordinating with the Construction and Planning Agency, Ministry of the Interior (MOI) and other competent authorities in charge of sewers to expedite public sewage system construction or projects that connect households with sewage systems. Priorities are given to rivers or river sections that are severely polluted with excessive amounts of household wastewater.
For the watersheds of severely polluted rivers that have yet to connect to public sewage or have public sewage constructed, subsidies have been provided for projects like wastewater interception or onsite purification and treatment. As of the end of 2019, improvement projects had been completed at 151 sites with a daily total capacity of 1,230,000 metric tons of household wastewater intercepted and treated.
Reducing enterprise wastewater pollution
Local governments are urged to actively investigate major violations such as rerouting discharge or unpermitted discharge, confiscate illegal gains, and punish violators.
As for regions densely populated with enterprises or with major pollution hotspots, the joint force of the EPA’s Environmental Police Unit (EPU), the environmental police of the MOI’s National Police Agency, and regional competent authorities, has increased efforts to investigate and stop environmental pollution.
In addition, the EPA has given top priority to remediating some surface water bodies by selecting key water quality monitoring stations and integrating central and regional resources. Selections are based on river pollution levels and whether there’s excessive heavy metals (at rivers and water intake points for different uses).
And for severely polluted rivers and water bodies under special protection, the EPA continues to supervise and assist local governments in the implementation of total mass based control, or works to tighten the Effluent Standards.
Reducing livestock wastewater pollution
From 27 December 2017 to 8 March 2019, the EPA revised and announced the Water Pollution Control Measures and Test Reporting Management Regulations (水污染防治措施及檢測申報管理辦法) to intensify implementation efforts and reach the set goals faster. The Regulations specify the ratio of livestock wastewater reutilization to encourage small-scale livestock enterprises to adopt reutilization measures, and simplify application and review procedures for enterprises with fewer than 200 pigs. Livestock wastewater reutilization refers to the use of digestate sediment and fluid as farmland fertilizers, animal excreta recycling under the Regulations Governing the Recycled Use of Agricultural Wastes (農業事業廢棄物再利用管理辦法), and use for plant irrigation that is compliant with the Effluent Standards. By the end of 2019, a total of 1,117 livestock farms had been practicing excreta reutilization.
Collecting, treating, and reutilizing animal excreta from other livestock farms
On 23 February 2018, the EPA announced plans to subsidize local governments to install reutilization facilities to treat animal excreta from other livestock farms. The goal is to promote centralization of excreta treatment and reutilization. A total of nine applications had been approved by the end of January 2020, processing excreta from 79,117 pigs and 697 cows in 30 farms.
Easing livestock industry’s burden in transporting digestate fluid and increasing irrigation flexibility
On 10 May 2018, the EPA announced plans to subsidize local governments to purchase livestock excreta transporting vehicles, irrigation vehicles and machinery, and storage tanks in farmlands. As of the end of January 2020, local governments had been subsidized to purchase 35 vehicles for transporting and irrigating digestate sediment and fluid and 64 farmland storage barrels.
Ⅲ. Future implementation
1. National Water Environment Improvement Plan
To be in line with MOEA’s National Water Environment Improvement Plan, the EPA has put waterfront environments in its overall planning consideration. The MOEA has been integrating different agencies’ resources to work on enhancing water environments, intercepting wastewater, improving sewage systems, and promoting water purification and wastewater treatment facilities. The goal in the first stage (2017-2021) is to create 67 water environment highlight spots covering 305 hectares of waterfront leisure space. The EPA has given top priority to rivers or river sections with medium or worse pollution levels, as well as areas with no sewage systems or whose households cannot be connected to existing sewage systems within a short period of time, and is subsidizing local governments to install water quality improvement equipment such as gravel contact oxidation or aeration facilities so as to enhance wastewater interception and treatment.
The first stage of the Forward-Looking Infrastructure Plan spanned from September 2017 to August 2021. The National Water Environment Improvement Plan’s budget for the EPA alone amounts to NT$6.465 billion, 85.1% (NT$5.503 billion) of which are earmarked for expenditure on capital items. The second stage (2019-2020) special budget also allocated a total of NT$2.4 billion to the EPA in 2019.
2. Sustainable Water Quality Promotion Plan
The plan specifically targets seven rivers, including Nankan River, New Huwei River, Erren River, Laojie River, Beigang River, Donggang River, and Jishui River. The goal is to lower the percentage of ammonia nitrogen levels and improve the rivers’ status from severely polluted (>3mg/L) to moderately polluted (≦3mg/L). The percentage of ammonia nitrogen levels lower than 3 mg/L as determined by station samples is to be raised from 53% to 70%. The plan spans from 2020 to 2023 and was allocated a total budget of NT$3,727,127,000.
Excerpt from Environmental Policy Monthly, 23 (5)
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)