Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Tepid Times Editorial Ostensibly About Water Resources Management

Today's Tepid Times editorial is about the lack of rainfall that affects Taiwan every year during the dry season. Aside from the unnecessary and stupid opening criticism of Premier Jiang's offhand remark about hoping for a typhoon soon (of course he didn't mean it literally, for goodness sake), the essay is generally insouciant and contains an unsupported claim about water resources...
"If all the sewage treatment plants nationwide were operational and half of the 3.8 million tonnes of water used every day was recycled, we would not need to build another reservoir."
I don't yet know how many sewage treatment plants there are, how many are operational and what volumes of water they can process, but you can bet I will find out. And against the blithe and entirely unreasoned and unsupported assertion that sewage treatment and water recycling would obviate the need for another reservoir, it can be pointed out that this fails to account for geography and economics because the consumption of water obviously presupposes transportation, whether through natural channels such as rivers or artificial means such as irrigation canals, pipelines or even plastic bottles on the back of trucks. It's no good having a large surplus volume of water available in Tainan, if transporting it to satisfy demand in Yunlin or Changhua is going to cost as much as or more than it is worth in the first place, is it?
"The nation already has many reservoirs. Unfortunately, they are prone to getting clogged up by silt from the deforested mountainous regions, helped along by frequent earthquakes and landslides. This silt not only reduces the capacity and operational lifespan of reservoirs, it is expensive to remove."
Correction: some of them are prone to getting clogged up, not all of them. Renyitan reservoir in Chiayi and Yongheshan reservoir in Miaoli are two reservoirs that do not suffer from this problem because of the way they are designed. The proposed set of small reservoirs in Kaohsiung would be somewhat similar in design, and yet it is unlikely that readers will ever see a good word about it in the pages of the Tepid Times.
"...it is going to take more than simply regulating the supply and allocation of water resources to ensure our water needs are met. The government is going to need to come up with a national land usage and industrial restructuring plan, including land development, allocation and usage, a move away from water-intensive industries and a more efficient supply of water resources."
Of course, darlings. Why aim for a more approximately free market in water with resources allocated via prices, when you can just opt for full-scale, central planning? This editorial does not so much "rethink" water resources in Taiwan, as merely use the issue of drought as yet another basis upon which to regurgitate the call for State socialism. And not only does this editorial neglect evidence or logic for certain of its' claims, but these editorials never come with author signatures do they?


  1. "Why aim for a more approximately free market in water with resources allocated via prices"

    LOL ... because something like what happened in Bolivia would never happen if the 'invisible hand of the market' was allowed to work it's magic? (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aTKn17uZRAE)

    You know what makes me sick? Spongers breathing air for free. Air is used so inefficiently and wasted when it is a public good regulated by the State. Let's remove all the air quality standards and red tape regulations that hurt business and let the free market decide a good price for air. Let the consumer choose which air they prefer. This freakonomics thing is awesome. It's like an answer for everything.

  2. Ordinary air, unlike fresh water, is not an economic good Ben because it's supply is not limited except in a small number of very specific circumstances in which cases it is in fact sold as a commodity on a market (e.g. the markets for various kinds of compressed air).


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