In May 2021, the water level in Taiwan's reservoirs fell to critical levels, marking the country's worst drought in 56 years. The government has allocated money to find new water sources and is using geoengineering planes to dump chemicals to seed clouds in hopes of causing rain. The central regions of the country have suffered the most, where the water level in reservoirs is currently below 10%.
Rainfall for the seven months to February 2021 was less than half the historical average, according to the government, after Taiwan did not experience significant rainfall for the first time in 56 years in 2020. The country relies on seasonal typhoons to replenish reservoirs, but not a single typhoon made landfall last year.
The last drought in Taiwan happened in 2015, when, due to lack of rain, reservoir levels dropped below 50%, forcing the government to begin water rationing in April.
But compared to 2015, conditions are much harsher this year, according to the Taiwanese CW. Taiwan received less than 800 mm (31.5 inches) of precipitation this year, bringing the country's reservoir levels to 25%, the lowest in a decade.
Households in areas subject to high-level restrictions will go without water two days a week, including Taichung, a population of 2.8 million, and Miaoli and Changhua.
“Our business is 90% smaller than last year,” said Wai Ying-Sheng, chairman of a group of entrepreneurs who rent boats to visitors.
"The lotus flowers and seeds I have planted are not producing a good harvest," Chen Chiu-Lang, a farmer in Tainan, told AP in a dry rice field.
Economy Minister Wang Mei-Hua said that although it rained lightly in some areas last week, restrictions should be tightened. Other cities, including Hsinchu, limit the total amount of water for each consumer.
The government has allocated financial assistance to find new water sources such as groundwater, seawater desalination, wastewater reclamation and water transportation, but these efforts will not provide immediate relief.
Authorities have also begun using military aircraft to dump cloud-seeding chemicals in the hopes of causing rains.
The Central Meteorological Bureau estimates that drought conditions will persist until the end of May, when seasonal rains will bring reservoir levels back to healthy levels.