Sewage System, a Story of Determination
Updated: Mar 15, 2019
#SDG6 - Clean Water and Sanitation
#SDG14 - Life Below Water
◆Implementation Period: 2010 - Present
Many great cities has a river flowing through. London, Paris, Cairo, Shanghai and New York are just few examples. New Taipei City, too, shares the Tamshui River with our neighboring Taipei City. In all these cities, life quality is always tied up with the vitality of the river. If kept clean and fresh, the river and its waterfront belt and greet the city’s residents with sunshine, breeze and beauty. This simple fact makes a working sewage system essential for any livable city; not to mention other issues like ecological sustainability and environmental ethics.
However, the construction of sewage system has long been overlooked in most Taiwanese cities. The cost is expensive; the required construction time always surpass the term of any mayor. Also, the achievement is not easily seen as all the pipes went underground and the affected rivers, due to Taiwan’s disastrous scale of sudden rainfall, have long been segregated from the citizens’ life by levees.
The greatest challenge, however, is the rampancy of illegally-built house extension in the back alleys where the sewage pipes are usually deployed. This means the inevitability to damage many civilian houses (despite of the illegality of their extension) in the process of sewage pipe installation, as well as foreseeable protests and obstructions.
Despite of these challenges, the New Taipei City still witness a rapid surge in its installation rate of sewage system. There were 351,745 (25%) households installed back in 2010, the year when the former Taipei County was “upgraded” and granted the administrative status of a “special municipality.” The statistics has been increased to 928,208 (59%) by January, 2019. The increase in the number of installed households is comparable to that statistics of other five municipalities combined together.
If we further include those properties with built-in wastewater processing facilities, a total of 1,355,938 households have their wastewater processed to meet the environment standard.
The core driving force was the strong determination of New Taipei City’s first mayor, Eric Chu. He set an installation target that is much higher than all other cities. The pressure forced the staffs of the Water Resource Department to work out every possible means to increase the construction pace, in order to meet the demanding goal. They revised the master plan, hired professional communicators, persuaded affected residents street by street, and explored more effective engineering tactics.
Frictions with affected residents are still inevitable, sometimes leading to physical violence or even injuries of public servants. But the determination gradually moved the public opinions. With the completion of the construction work in some pioneering communities, residents witnessed the benefits. The once dirty and smelly back alleys were transformed, becoming brighter, cleaner and more comfortable to walk through. Testimonies of this sort helped the our staffs in persuading the residents of next planned installation site. Eventually, some citizens even asked the city government to work on their communities as soon as possible.
With the sewage system expanded, the water quality of the city’s rivers was significantly improved. Fishes are back and the once smelly odor was much reduced. This allows the city government to make the river banks more accessible as recreation venue for its citizens. The New Taipei City has installed in its riverbanks 200 km bike lane, 40 baseball/softball fields, and numerous parks including the specially-designated ones for running dogs or playing remote-control cars and planes. All these facilities won’t be that enjoyable without the determined sewage system plan.