Vanishing Ponds and Regional Water Resources in Taoyuan, Taiwan

Abstract

Taiwan has a Subtropic to Tropical climate, but its precipitation varies widely in response to seasonal effects and weather events such as Typhoon and Meiyu systems. Precipitation must be held back in reservoirs to provide and regulate sufficient water supply. Balancing the irregular precipitation and increasing water demands generates tremendous pressure on water resources management for the water stored in the Shihmen Reservoir, which is the major unitary water supply system in the Greater Taoyuan Area. Such pressure will be significantly enlarged due to the huge 17 billion USD Taoyuan Aerotropolis Project. In earlier days many small artificial ponds (a common terminology in this article), including irrigation ponds, fishery ponds and others, were built to cope with water shortages in Taoyuan County. These small storage ponds provided a solu- tion that resolved seasonal precipitation shortages. Unfortunately, these ponds have been vanishing one after another one due to regional industrialization and urbanization in recent decades and less than 40% of them still remain today. There is great urgency and importance to investigating the link between vanishing ponds and water resources management. Remote sensing technology was used in this study to monitor the environmental consequences in the Taoyuan area by conducting multi-tem- poral analysis on the changes in water bodies, i.e., ponds. SPOT satellite images taken in 1993, 2003, and 2010 were utilized to analyze and assess the importance of small-scale ponds as water conservation facilities. It was found that, during the seventeen years from 1993 - 2010, the number of irrigation ponds decreased by 35.94%. These ponds can reduce the burden on the major reservoir and increase the water recycling rate if they are properly conserved. They can also improve rainfall interception and surface detention capabilities, and provide another planning advantage for regional water management.

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