Taiwan delays further water curbs after heavy rainfall

Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County, Taiwan on May 15, 2021. Some of the island’s lakes and reservoirs have nearly run dry. PHOTO: NYTIMES

TAIPEI (REUTERS) - Taiwan's government on Monday (May 31) delayed imposing further water curbs that would have impacted major chipmaking hubs after heavy rainfall began replenishing reservoirs on the drought-struck island.

Sub-tropical Taiwan is dealing with its worst drought in history after no typhoons directly hit the island last year, meaning much less rain.

Taiwan had planned on tightening curbs on the use of water from June 1 in the important chipmaking hubs of Hsinchu and Taichung, requiring companies in the two science parks to cut water consumption by 17 per cent.

But after heavy rainfall over the weekend that is expected to last all week, heralding the start of what Taiwan calls the "plum rain" season, the government has postponed those plans, Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said in a statement.

However, the ministry's Water Resources Agency said that from mid-June the outlook was drier, meaning the drought alert would stay and people should still be conserving water.

The world's largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC) , has factories in both Hsinchu and Taichung.

The company has said it has seen no impact on production from the drought and would continue to trim its water use and buy supplies from tanker trucks for some foundries.

Technology companies have long complained about tight water supplies, which became more acute after factories expanded production following a Sino-United States trade war.

The drought has also exacerbated problems with electricity management, leading to two major islandwide blackouts in less than a week.

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