Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Agongdian Reservoir (阿公店 水庫)

Early last month I exchanged a few emails with a Taiwanese expat living in Northern California on the subject of my brief posts on the reservoirs in Tainan County earlier this year*. Among other things having to do with his knowledge of the history of Taiwan's reservoirs and the "unsung heroes" of Taiwan's civil engineering projects, he mentioned Agongdian reservoir (阿公店水庫) to me, which I was unaware of and which is yet located in the Gangshan district of Kaohsiung County (north of Kaohsiung City; Gangshan is already very familiar to me having previously lived in several districts of Kaohsiung and having driven between Kaohsiung City and Tainan City countless times for work and other reaons).

Approach To Agongdian From Tainan

Since I had never heard of it and never been there previously, I figured that the best way to get there from Tainan City would be to take Route 19 and drive through the Guanmiao district (關廟) of southern Tainan County and into Alian (阿蓮) and then Gangshan (岡山) districts of Kaohsiung County. Largely this is because I'm sick of driving Route 1 down through the Luzhu (路竹) district of Kaohsiung County and Gangshan town itself. It was the right decision - both the road quality and the scenery are much better going through Guanmiao and Alian districts. You know when you have arrived in Gangshan district as soon as you catch sight of the distinctive hill which towers over the entire area... The north-western side of the hill shown here from Route 19 is populated by an archipelago of restaurants, small eateries, a hotel and a fairly large temple. Beneath the hill there are farmers fields stretching out north and west for miles. This is typical of the geography of Taiwan's west coast. Approaching from the east, the hill itself is prefaced by a cement works (the picture on the right shows the cement works looking down from the hill itself). At the top of the hill there is a radar facility serving the nearby training base for the R.O.C airforce (so naturally it is off limits to the public, which is a shame because the radar is at the western edge of the hill where the views toward Agongdian reservoir are likely to be good). The airforce base in Gangshan has a complex literally across the road from the reservoir, though the airfield itself is some distance away. This is one site where Taiwan's trainee airforce pilots come to do their flight formation training in T-34 turboprops. A kilometer or so further along after sighting the hill along Route 19 toward Gangshan town itself, there is a poorly signmarked left turn toward the reservoir nestled among a minor hamlet of houses and factories betwixt vegetable farms.

The first time I drove there (I've since made several trips) was with my girlfriend - I instinctively knew the correct left we would have to take before we ended up in Gangshan town, but she insisted on making the decision based on our GPS position she was updating on google maps on her iphone - so we passed by the left turn before she assented to it. We didn't argue over this, but in finding my way I almost always tend to choose inductive inference first and deductive inference second (but then only if I get lost). I remember driving from Kenting to Hualien city some years ago - I was shocked when somebody asked me whether I took a map (it's very simple: just drive north - the coast should always be on your right hand side - for about ten hours until you get there).

The views of the reservoir from the circuitous and hilly approach road are inconvenient and partial at best. As always with Taiwan, there is also the problem of frequent haze which makes photography an art of timing in a sense other than shutter speed; in addition to two historical photographs provided by my source in California, the images I use in this post were taken from several different trips I made under different weather and light conditions.

The Reservoir

Construction of Agongdian reservoir began in 1942 during the Japanese occupation of Formosa and was not finally completed until 1953 under the rule of the KMT. This construction process was fraught with difficulties and temporary disasters: periodic flooding during the late summer rains and the bombing raids of U.S. B29s during the war. Following the arrival of the ROC after 1945, responsibility for completing the Agongdian reservoir project fell to Mr Yung-Chien Chu, a Chinese engineer who was born in Changsha, Hunan province circa 1907. Under the direction of Mr Chu and his team of engineers, Agongdian reservoir was finally built with the labour of the Nationalist Army servicemen.

None of this I learned from actually visiting Agongdian reservoir (for this information I am indebted to my aforementioned source in California). After visiting the reservoir, one of the things which impressed me most was the scarcity of substantive historical detail presented to the public. Moreover, searching the web (in Chinese) returns precious little substantive historical information. It appears therefore, that a serious historical study of Agongdian reservoir has simply not been attempted (I would gladly be proved wrong - please comment below). Today of course, the reservoir is not quite the vital public works project it was when it was completed in the early 1950s...

Although much, much smaller in area, Agongdian reservoir is somewhat similar in layout to Wushantou reservoir in at least three respects. First, both reservoirs are situated well to the west of the central mountain range meaning that they are quite shallow in contrast to the deeper reservoirs of Tseng-wen and Nanhua set deep in the mountains themselves (Agongdian and Wushantou have maximum depths of 40m and 60m respectively, whereas Nanhua and Tseng-wen have maximum depths of 185m and 230m respectively). Here is a picture of Nanhua reservoir showing it nestled among the steep shoulders of the mountains..

Contrast that with this image of Agongdian reservoir's control tower below from a nearby hill at the north end; the reservoir occupies a comparatively low-lying area of land populated by pig farms and small townships...

Second, both reservoirs are based upon a similar design principle: a single, relatively low but very long earth-work levee through which a controlled flow of water is allowed to pass to feed the irrigation needs of the low lying plains stretching out to the west. The reservoirs in the eastern mountains by contrast, are based upon narrow but very steep and much taller dams. The levee at Agongdian is 2.3 km long but only 42m high; at Wushantou, the levee is only 1.2 km long but is substantially taller at almost 67m. By contrast, the dams at Nanhua and Tseng-wen are much narrower and taller: 509m long by 187m high for Nanhua, and 400m long by 235m high for Tseng-wen. Compare: the image immediately below alludes to the long but rather low profile of Agongdian...

... whereas the following image illustrates the much taller and more massive nature of the dam at Tseng-wen (notice the dumper trucks in the foreground to the left)...

Third, both Agongdian and Wushantou follow a very flaccid and circuitous eastern perimeter, such that the fullest view of either reservoir is only available from atop their respective western levees. Compare the following two images from google maps.

First, Agongdian reservoir:

Now Wushantou reservoir:

Notice the scale legend in the bottom left corner of each of those images; although Wushantou occupies a substantially larger area than Agongdian, its appearance to the human eye would suggest otherwise. The levee embankments for both reservoirs are very long and the chief body of water in both reservoirs spans approximately three kilometers from one end to the other. If however, you compare northern to southern extremeties of each reservoir, then Wushantou comes out at just over nine kilometers with Agongdian at almost six kilometers.

Although the embankment levees for both reservoirs are of a comparable scale, it is the levee at Agongdian which is most popular with locals; they come here to walk, jog and cycle every day at regular times - which is typical of the Taiwanese (especially among the older generations). The levee at Wushantou, though it does attract some locals and offers far superior views out west over the Lioujia district of Tainan County, is surrounded by a smaller and more dispersed population, whereas the levee at Agongdian is very close to Gangshan town itself which, for Taiwan, is a fairly substantial "township" with a more densely concentrated population; it is one of the major stops on the local railway network and was until recently one of the administrative nerve centres of the Kaohsiung County government (Gangshan also has an excellent fresh fish market on weekend mornings from about 4am on until mid-morning).

The Levee

I use the word "levee" rather than "dam" because the two words evoke, to my mind at least, quite different images (see the comparison with Tseng-wen above). At just over 2.3km long, the levee at Agongdian reservoir is easily the longest in Taiwan by quite some distance.

The "Southern Region Water Resources Office" is the State agency responsible for the management of reservoirs in South Taiwan; they answer to the Ministry of Economic Affairs and their office lies at the south end of the levee. At the entrance to the car park there is a map of the reservoir with a legend indicating the various buildings that surround the water. I was parked at the north end. The levee bounds the reservoir to the east and faces west outward toward the pig farms to the north, and a military training school to the south. Entry to the school is of course barred to the public with razor wire atop the walls, but anybody can easily see over the top of those walls from the levee itself; aside from barracks and administrative offices, there is a courtyard. At one time perhaps this courtyard would have held tanks; now however there are now only dirt diggers dressed in fasionable military green paint with their "Caterpillar" brand name still intact. I would imagine that they are intended for future natural disaster response deployments by the Army. Along with the perimeter trail (see below), the levee attracts many local people every day for their routine of either walking, running or cycling. Cycling has really taken off in Taiwan over the last five or six years. I can recall once being one of only a tiny handful of cyclists circling Cheng Ching lake (澄清湖) in Kaohsiung every other weeknight when the volume of cyclists around the lake at night seemed to suddenly swell. Within a week I had to quit because there were simply too many mad people on an already treacherous road.
Certainly, for the numbers of cyclists to have taken off so rapidly in recent years, somebody at Giant must have run a great marketing campaign. For myself, I have long since given up the bike since I got my dog nearly four years ago; I take her running with me in our local park, and for long drives out into the countryside. Besides, where I live in Tainan the traffic is typically so constrained by narrow roads that riding a bicycle amounts to knowingly putting oneself in greater danger of being knocked over. Personally, I'd prefer a helicopter...

All across the span of the levee, there are ample views out across the reservoir toward the village on the eastern side where two buildings in particular are especially salient despite the ever-present haze from the farms and air pollution. The southern most of these is a Taoist temple which is remarkable for no particular reason at all other than that somebody thought to remark upon it when drafting the material for the information panels. Although I must admit I'm no expert on the finer architectural points of Taoist temples, this particular specimen looks no different to me than the thousands of others throughout South Taiwan. Since our absent hosts apparently had nothing substantive to say about this temple, perhaps I may be allowed to offer my own commentary. There are so many of these temples throughout every town, city and village in Taiwan that it is no exaggeration to say that they are almost as common as 7-11s. What amazes me about them is that local people willingly chip in to contribute fairly substantial sums (e.g. a few thousand U.S.$) toward their construction even though they serve no obviously demonstrable purpose - other than reflecting the anachronistic superstitions of the older generations. The connection to organized crime (e.g. as portrayed in the recent gangster film "Monga" [艋舺]) may still exist here and there, but the question which occurs to me (and it is admittedly an impertinent question) is what other productive uses could all that money have been put to; like everyone else Taiwanese people are hardly short of problems to solve. Our absent hosts also make mention of the other temple further to the north: the Buddhist temple. Like Buddhism itself, these things come in a variety of forms - whereas this one has a fairly spartan, Chinese-Bauhaus like appearance, others are far more elaborate; in the Guiren district (歸仁) of Tainan county for instance, there is an entirely gold (painted) Buddhist temple with very conspicuously large water fountains at its' entrance; in Britain, these things might be called "follies", and perhaps not without justification. At the approximate middle of the levee, there is a large channel running underneath which is parenthesized by two mechanical gates operated from a control house on the other side of the road away from the levee; the purpose is flood control. The channel continues underneath the road beyond the levee and through into a snaking, open-air aqueduct; apparently the channel itself is large enough to allow the displacement of 81 cubic meters of water per second - which might seem like a lot, but of itself this one channel does little to allay the problem of recurrent floodings to the Gangshan area when all of the various channels, streams and irrigation outlets are overwhelmed by prolonged rainfall during tropical storms and four-day typhoons. The Gangshan area is a natural flood-plain to begin with but the floods are exacerbated by several other features of the built landscape; one is the common occurance of fish farms, which insulate their fish pools by small dikes which then retard the outward flow of water; another is the relatively small number and narrowness of rivers and streams heading west toward the Taiwan Strait (some of these have since been widened); another is the generally poor and ageing condition of wastewater infrastructure - particularly in Gangshan town itself.

As a brief aside however, I should perhaps mention that there is a secondary escape channel for water toward the north-eastern extremity of the reservoir (i.e. way beyond the main body of water and out around the back end among the farms). It is not by any means small. I'm slightly curious about this because the sign forbidding entry beyond the warning ballustrade is rusted with age and the entire causeway is overgrown with vegetation. It has the appearance of being designed as another flood control channel (wide and tall concrete ballustrades to direct the flow of obviously large volumes of water), and yet it is on the wrong side of the reservoir - the eastern side; water exiting this channel would not move through the flood plain toward the Taiwan Strait but would get clogged up in the fields and farms at the back. If, on the other hand, it was designed as an irrigation channel then where in the world is the corresponding outlet control station? There wasn't one immediately obvious from the main road (although I may have driven by it without realizing, or - perhaps more likely - it is set back some distance from the main road among the trees and thus out of sight). And if it is an irrigation channel, then why is it so obviously built to handle very large volumes of water comparable to the flood outlet system on the other side of the reservoir? An inquiring mind wants to know...

Back on the western side of the reservoir proper, and some short distance north from the aforementioned flood control outlet with the control station across the road, there are the irrigation outlet gates below the levee and directly opposite the control tower which sits in the reservoir itself. These gates allow water to flow out at a rate of 3.88 cubic meters per second into a narrow irrigation channel which immediately disappears rightward into a copse of trees. The water flows out from the irrigation outlet gate under the road through a channel toward a purpose-built little bridge passing over an additional flood control ditch which runs parallel to the levee and has a depth of perhaps ten meters or so (thirty feet). Although the little bridge over this ditch is narrow, it is designed to be walked across (presumably for someone to clean it out if it gets clogged up with dead tree branches and other debris following a typhoon) but the entrance by the side of the road isn't exactly ceremonious. Once astride the bridge, the eye can follow the ditch to the left (southwards) for only a short distance, and to the right not at all - there are simply too many trees growing both in and around the ditch whose branches cast the place into a partial shade which diffuses the glare of the sun with that dappling effect that moving leaves tend to have. Some care is needed in walking across the bridge because the branches reach fairly low and are transversed with six-foot cobwebs made obvious by the broken up light streaming through the canopy. Cobwebs. Of course that can mean only one thing, or in this case many of them. Like most people I think, I have an instinctive revulsion to spiders but it is a small thing, something which is immediately felt as a sensation but which has no lingering pull on the mind. This is good because these spiders are really quite photogenic... Readers are advised to click on that image to get it larger although, as a consequence of the Blogger platform's recent reorganization, it is no longer possible to click on images and blow them up with the zoom function - which is a shame because the little hairs on the spider's chelicerae (teeth) are clearly visible in that image. This is a species of golden orb-web spider, nephilia pilipes, common throughout East Asia and Southeast Asia and especially here around Agongdian reservoir. They are easily found throughout the countryside all over Taiwan, especially in the vicinity of overhead electricity cables. My first encounter with one of these was some years ago now in the Sandimen district of Pingtung County; I was out on a drive through the mountains one sunny afternoon with my girlfriend on the old bike and had stopped by a staircase leading down to a stream in order to take a "rest break". After I finished doing what I had to do, my girlfriend - looking down from the top of the stone staircase - called out and gesticulated wildly at something obviously quite near me though I couldn't see what it was she was pointing to. It was only when I took a step or two to my right that the light changed and it came into view - one of these spiders was perhaps a foot away from my face. As with other spider genera, the female is significantly larger than the male and it is not unusual to find them as large as - or larger than - the span of a human hand as with this particular little monster (her body alone was perhaps four inches or more across, which is massive). There is of course nothing to be afraid of; their venom poses no risk. They make good subjects for nature photography, although their webs can sometimes shift suddenly when caught by a breeze. This is a problem when the camera is set to automatic focus because the lens will suddenly alternate back and forth between the spider and some leaf or twig in the background, an effect which is disconcerting. For this reason I prefer to use manual focus (although I generally prefer manual for other reasons also; I don't understand why other people find manual focusing difficult).

The Trail

Another reason why Agongdian reservoir is so much more popular than Wushantou is that it is encircled by a ten kilometer trail - so not only do the locals walk up and down the length of the levee, but many of them perambulate the whole reservoir (most by walking, but not a few by running and cycling). It is a convenient distance; I often run between four and six kilometers on weekday nights at my local park, but I have to do it by the repetitive means of twenty to thirty laps. At Agongdian the trail is much more lively and interesting with twists and turns, ups and downs and it is generally well marked to indicate distance from a starting point. Beginning at the north end of the levee, which is the north-west corner of the reservoir's main body of water, the trail heads off eastward. Although dogs aren't allowed on the trail, there were one or two old people with little daschunds pitter-pattering after them; generally speaking, rules about dogs in Taiwan are presented de dicto, but are interpreted and applied in a de re fashion: i.e. only small dogs are acceptable (although on my second trip to Agongdian, the security guard at the south end of the reservoir was very gracious and allowed me to take my dog in with me for a quick walk - I kept her on the lead).

The northern end of the trail heading east affords views across the reservoir to the small control station jutting out from the levee to the west. There is only a single control station for the entire reservoir - water passes out beneath it through the aforementioned gate to feed the irrigation channel stretching out to the west at a rate of almost four cubic meters per second. The water level for the reservoir is typically maintained at the 35 meter mark with excess water drained off; remember, the levee itself is just over 40 meters in height.
The trail carries on eastwards punctuated twice by viewing platforms complete with information boards - one in Mandarin, one in English in both cases - which inform the visitor about the reservoir's provenance in geographical and historical aspect. At the first of these stops, we learn that Agongdian reservoir is formed from two seperate creeks: Zuo Shui and Wang Lai, both of which are problematic in so far as they carry with them volcanic mud which clogs up the reservoir and (presumably) complicates the efficient operation of the control tower. These information panels are encased in perspex but have nonetheless faded over time - the photographs that accompany the text are now borderline illegible.
At the second stop, which the visitor stumbles across as a preamble to the suspension bridge crossing the northern side of the reservoir's main body of water, we learn that the small village on the eastern side of the reservoir was formerly the site of a brown sugar factory from the Japanese colonial period until it was closed in 1967; from the middle of the nineteenth century through to the early twentieth century, the economic aspect of people's lives here in Taiwan was shaped to a significant extent by the production of agricultural products for export - in this case to satisfy Japanese demand particularly during the war.
As is usual in Taiwan, the various government agencies go to the trouble of providing information in English but without bothering themselves about quality control - and so the English information boards are littered with semantic and grammatical errors. Whoever in the office happens to have the best English gets to write them! Unlike other foreigners however, this doesn't really bother me - especially in the case of Agongdian reservoir since those errors that do occur are not so bad as to impede comprehension (though this is most certainly not the case at the recently constructed museum at Anping Fort in Tainan where the English is so bad as to be almost incomprehensible - it might as well be in Runes).
The next panel mentions that the present geological challenges to managing the reservoir also plagued its construction, so much so that even after the Japanese left Taiwan in 1945 they still had not completed the project. The incoming KMT government eventually completed it in 1953; eleven years after the project had commenced. To put that into context, the much more massive Tseng-wen reservoir was completed in only six years between 1967 and 1973. The problem at Agongdian was (and is) the regular silting up of the reservoir with volcanic mud from the Zhuo Shui and Wang Lai rivers and the consequent need to drain it before the summer rains arrived, necessitating a considerable diversion of labour (there is another information panel at the south end of the reservoir which describes this at just slightly greater length).
The volcanic mud is transported down to the reservoir through the two rivers which flow through an area of low lying volcanic hills to the south-east; these are clearly visible from the south end of the reservoir itself. I took the initiative to drive out to find them and it would have perhaps taken me only fifteen minutes were it not for my habit of stopping to photograph near every damn little thing. The image of water and hills to the right below was taken from a small road bridge at the southernmost end of the reservoir.
The hill to the left marks the beginning of a chain of volcanic hills which demand several precious hours of exploration by foot, whilst the hill to the right houses a local, traditional Chinese cemetery. The volcanic hills themselves are a minor tourist attraction for the locals; a trail of unspecified distance takes visitors steeply up into, and around the hills. The entrance to the trail is prefaced by a really rather good plastic model of the volcanic "mountains" and another Buddhist temple.
Entry to the trail is free and I would have liked to have trampled my way up and down it with the dog but it was already well after three in the afternoon when I arrived. Although the map lacked any indication of distances, I made the inference (from past experience at similar places) that it would require a good two or three hours to do it justice and I still had other places I wanted to photograph before evening set in and the light started to fail (which in Taiwan's winter begins at about 5.00pm to 5.30pm). The cost of draining the reservoir every year in order to remove the volcanic sediment must be considerable; what happens to this silt once it is removed? Processed for use as fertilizer? I don't know, but I may yet return to take the trail on and get some good pictures of the bubbling mud to add to this post, or alternatively, write up a seperate post in itself.

Back to the trail: here is the suspension bridge crossing the northern end of Agongdian reservoir...

This bridge marks the northern boundary of the main body of water - to the left the reservoir continues up into its northern and north-eastern extremities which are so extensive as to seem to soak up at least as much in area as the remainder of the reservoir (see the google maps image above). The views are limited by the hilly countryside, including the large Gangshan hill visible on approaching Gangshan hill from the north, and the route which the water takes is a highly circuitous one. I imagine there might be some sly little backroads through to this area for the fisherman to get to the out-of-the-way reaches of the reservoir with little risk of being disturbed. At the far end of the bridge there is another pair of information boards though these are less informative than previous ones as they simply state that the construction of the reservoir was initiated by the Japanese and completed under the KMT, with rennovations since. This is a shame because rather than provide the public with redundant information, they could have went into greater historical detail - for instance the fact that when the KMT government took over construction of the reservoir, they used Chinese labourers (i.e. from the "mainland") brought to Taiwan as part of the ROC armed forces. These men would not have been paid in anything other than food and lodgings, and the construction process took an exceedingly long time hindered as it was by the location's vulnerability to flooding. It must also be remembered that malaria was widespread as late as the early 1950s and control measures would likely have been only partially effective at best; it is thus an open question how many of these Chinese labourers may have died during the construction of Angongdian reservoir. It is not right that their achievement, and the likely costs of that achievement, should still go unacknowledged today almost sixty years after the reservoir was first completed. After crossing the northern bridge, which sits beneath the watch of Gangshan hill with its' military radar, the trail heads up into the hills before turning south-eastwards and back down through the village (which was formerly the site of the brown sugar factory) and out to the southern end of the reservoir where it crosses another suspension bridge. It must be said that this trail, connected by suspension bridges at either end, is a real asset to the reservoir as a public good. Wushantou reservoir for instance, although of a somewhat similar geography, has nothing like this; there are no bridges, no trail and it is simply not possible to cross to the other side except by boat (there is barely even road access). Although the Agongdian trail appears to be generally well-managed, I do have one design criticism which is that although bend-mirrors are provided at certain points, there is no bend-mirror on the eastern side of the north bridge at the spot which most demands one. At this spot, which occurs just after the northern suspension bridge, there is an almost ninety-degree hair-pin bend preceding a sudden, steep embankment down which the tarmac trail recklessly cascades like a dangerously narrow, wobbly ribbon. The gradient of this bank is somewhere from 15% to 20%, so the absence of a bend-mirror at this spot is an example of almost incredible thoughtlessness; the cyclists coming down the bank are breaking of course but they are still moving at perhaps 40kph or thereabouts when they enter what is effectively a blind turn populated by old people walking along often two or three abreast. It's an accident waiting to happen, but what perlexes me about this is that there doesn't seem to be any obvious reason why a bend-mirror could not be attached to the steel bannister of this particular bend in the trail. And yet the trail happily sports bend-mirrors elsewhere where the need for them is not so urgent. The wooded area of the trail, although not well lit, has plenty of wild things to point a camera at during the daytime, such as Miss nephilia pilipes... I found another species of spider hanging between the rods on the suspension bridge on the north side of the reservoir, but I found it impossible to take a good picture for obvious reasons (i.e. being on a suspension bridge, I couldn't focus properly). It's quite likely that there are other little monsters wandering about in the woods (e.g. snakes), but I wasn't about to go prodding about looking for them. One creature which you certainly will not find at Agongdian however, are the eagles and buzzards that populate the mountainous areas around Tseng-wen and Nanhua reservoirs up in Tainan County. Agongdian reservoir is simply too far into the lowlands to offer the necessary high peaks (the two hills in the immediate vicinity to the north notwithstanding), and being near an airforce pilot training base probably doesn't help either.
The trail concludes after crossing the suspension bridge at the southern end of the reservoir after a long, circuitous journey of just over ten kilometers. It's a good length for a weekly run either in the morning or late in the afternoon, and there is the additional possibility of sunrise and sunset photography at these times made attractive by the way the surface of the water catches the light, all else is a question of weather, timing and framing the shot in as interesting a way as possible.
I suspect that at night, most people wouldn't want to run here due to the absence of lighting, even though (in the summer) the temperature is comfortably cooler. I wouldn't think that an area like this would be especially crime-prone (though elsewhere, I have previously encountered reason to suspect otherwise), but the absence of good lighting is always going to be something of a discouragement for most people whichever way you look at it. That is actually a major problem in Taiwan more generally - street lights are very poor and in some areas (e.g. the Xinshih district of Tainan County) there are frequently black-outs due to the need to prioritize a limited electricity supply (and yet the Presidential candidates of both major parties are apparently committed to phasing out the use of nuclear power). I wouldn't think there is any chance of changing that in the near future; various research groups in Britain and elsewhere (I know because I used to be employed at one such group) have been looking at tackling this kind of problem with the use of ambient light reflecting polymers at certain spots but these are significantly limited (basically, unlike bulbs they don't project light over any significant distance, which is what is really needed).

Agongdian reservoir is not by any means the largest or most visually impressive of Taiwan's reservoirs (that prize belongs either to Tseng-wen reservoir in Tainan and Chiayi counties, or possibly to Shihmen reservoir in Taoyuan county), but it at least manages to be as interesting as Wushantou reservoir in its historical and engineering aspects, whilst both more attractive and popular than Wushantou.

I now have some historical material on the "unsung heroes" of Taiwan's civil engineering past and some additional research leads made available to me by my source in California which I will delve into with a view to producing some actual journalism on Taiwan's reservoirs. This post will have to suffice in the meantime however.

*Here: Tseng-wen (曾文水庫), Wushantou (烏山頭水庫) and Nanhua (南化水庫) (and again here); I actually made many more trips out and around the reservoirs of Tainan County in the summer and also one or two trips up into the northern districts of Kaohsiung County.

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