Taiwan residents afraid to take baths after Typhoon Soudelor leaves tap water muddy

Taiwan residents afraid to take baths after Typhoon Soudelor leaves tap water muddy
PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Taipei Water Department said yesterday that it will announce compensation measures regarding water billing in two days.

Typhoon Soudelor ripped through Taiwan over the weekend, leaving millions of people with muddy water coming out of their faucets. In addition, around 420,000 households faced water outages. As of yesterday, approximately 20,000 households are still left with no water.

Many people have seen yellow and brownish-coloured tap water that smelled like soil after the typhoon swept through Taiwan. The water murkiness level for Xindian River reached as high as 39,000 NTU (Nephelometric Turbidity Unit).

Many residents have been afraid to take baths and using the water for drinking or cooking. People have turned to mineral water, causing many stores throughout Taipei to sell out of bottled water. Consumers who have attempted to purchase bottles of mineral water from convenience stores or supermarkets like Carrefour or Wellcome over the weekend were likely to leave the store empty-handed before yesterday.

Taipei Water Department Deputy Commissioner Chen Man-li said that around 1.6 million households in the department's service area, which includes Taipei City and the Zhonghe, Yonghe, Xindian, Sanchong and parts of Xizhi districts in New Taipei City, were affected by contaminated water and will be compensated.

She also said that water from the water purification plant was tested and found to contain between 0.39 to 1 NTU yesterday at 7am and she appealed to the public not to hoard water anymore.

Water is no longer classed as muddy when its turbidity level is under 5 NTU; a score under 2 meets the national water quality standard, said Chen.

Source and Remedies to Muddy Water

Greater Taipei Area's tap water originates from Yangminshan, Nanshi River - which originates from Wulai's upper streams - and Beishi River which supplies Feitsui Reservoir.

Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je yesterday stressed that contaminated water does not originate from Feitsui Reservoir as it is supplied by water from Beishi River, which is under strict water and soil conservation measures along its upper streams.

Instead, water from Nanshi River that went into purification plants was too muddy, hinting that water and soil conservation in that area has not been well established, said Ko. He also appealed for the central government to conduct further inspections on the supply.

For consumers who still have yellowish water coming from their tap, Taipei Water Department recommends removing the earlier dirty water stored in their building's water tanks.

Director of the Taipei Health Bureau for Disease Control, Chen Shao-qing also recommended changing water filters or purifiers periodically and avoiding raw food due to the organic compounds currently found in the polluted water.

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