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There are 129 rivers in Taiwan, most of which flow toward the east or
west. Because the major watershed, Snow Mountain Range (Hsue-shan Shan-mo),
the Central Range, has an eastward inclination, the drainage area of western
Taiwan is larger than that in the east. Taiwan's rivers have the following
a. They are fast-flowing due to their short length and steep grade.
Even Taiwan's longest river, the Choshui River, is only 186 kilometers
long but its degree of steepness of slope is 1/55.
b. They have a limited water flow in dry seasons, and they even
became wildbachs unsuitable for sailing.
c. Their peak flow is enormous; a catchment area of 2,000-3,000
km2 often receives peak flows of up to 10,000 m3
d. They contain a high quantity of sand. That's how the Choshui
River (meaning "muddy river") got its name.
e. There are active river-based rejuvenation landscapes--river
terraces, valleys- within-valleys, incised meanders and alluvial fans.
B. Water resources
Taiwan's average precipitation is 900 ×108 m3 per
year. After evapotranspiration and evaporation, the island has a maximum
of about 637×108 m3 of surface and groundwater available.
But 67~73% of the runoff is often lost, so in recent years only 166~191
×108 m3 of water is used annually. 80~82% of the
water is used for irrigation, 8~10% for daily life and industry. On average,
a person uses 1,000m3 of water a year: 60% of this comes from
rivers, 20% from reservoirs and 20% from groundwater.
The top three rivers in terms of runoff are: the Kaoping River (76 ×108
m3 ), Tanshui River (58×108 m3 ) and
Choshui River (52 ×108 m3 ). All of them are located
in western Taiwan.
There are many ponds in Taiwan's northwestern plateaus that can be considered
small lakes. They are built to store up rain for irrigation. Among the
natural and artificial lakes, Sun Moon Lake, Chengching Lake and Lungluan
Lake now have become major tourist attractions. Thus they are valuable
economically but in terms of water storage they are less important than
There are around 50 reservoirs in Taiwan. They are able to accomodate
30 ×108 m3 of water every year. Those having an
effective capacity of over 108 m3 are the Tsengwen,
Feitsui, Shihmen, Techi, Nanhua, Sun Moon Lake, Wushe, Wushe and Liuy
Taiwan's groundwater basins or other areas rich in groundwater are: the
alluvial fan plain of the Choshui River, the Pingtung plain, Ilan plain,
Taipei basin and Huatung longitudinal valley. Regions that lack groundwater
are: Chianan plain and the northwestern plateaus. Hsinmiao and Taichung
are mixed areas. Some mountains and hills whose geology dates back to
the Tertiary Period or earlier do not have good percolation and end up
with little groundwater.