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標題左邊圖檔 History of Irrigation in Taiwan 標題右邊圖檔 PDF download (all chapters:273KB)


Part III: Evolution of Irrigation Organizations and Management

In the early stages of irrigation development in Taiwan, relevant facilities were constructed by the private sectors. However, due to the lack of effective management, disputes over water use were not unusual and water resources were used rather ineffectively. Consequently, irrigation organizations were formed and established to resolve such conflicts and improve the water management efficiency, for the purpose of effective utilization of the potential water resources. The government later on intervened and granted these irrigation organizations the status of public juridical person to advance their operation and management capabilities. The evolution of the irrigation organizational aspect in Taiwan can be divided into seven stages: Pre-Ching Dynasty Era (before 1895), Public Ponds and Canals (1895-1907), Government-owned Ponds and Canals (1908-1920), Irrigation Cooperatives (1921-1944), Irrigation Coordination Associations (1945-1947), Irrigation Committees (1948-1955), and nowadays Irrigation Associations (after 1956), as detailed below:

  1. A. The Ching and Pre-Ching Dynasty Era (before 1895)
  2. During the Ming and Ching Dynasties, drainage and irrigation projects were mainly invested and operated by the private sector, and thus deemed private properties so that they could be traded freely like the land. The imperial administration later promulgated irrigation supervision rules to settle water use disputes, ushering in the era of irrigation management. The imperial instructions and decrees were issued by the Ching Dynasty Government to facilitate the management of irrigation systems. For purposes of water allocation, land acquisition for the needs of facilities or works, construction approval, water levy imposition, watercourse maintenance, and banning of rights encroachment, imperial instructions/decrees were announced or posted to instruct/order the public concerned. In the meantime, to ensure normal operation of irrigation facilities, the government would also issue such imperial instructions/decrees to rule the "water share" (as so-called "water right" today) allocated to respective ponds and canals. In addition, owners of irrigation facilities were respectively issued operation licenses (the equivalent "water right certificates" and "seals" today, specifically the "Irrigation Associations' Seals").

  3. B. Public Ponds and Canals Period (1895-1907)
  4. In view of the difficulty with the maintenance of private irrigation systems, the government in this period conducted a full-scale survey on irrigation facilities and completed their registrations, and designated them as public canals, which were placed under the government's supervision. The official irrigation registers recorded full detail consisting of the items of water sources, places where each canal passed and terminated, dates of new construction completed or changes of facilities, investment methods, facility dimensions, names of beneficiaries, locations, benefited area sizes, and rights- concerned notes. Besides, the then government also specified that the stakeholders of a canal or irrigation pond were permitted to establish "Cooperatives" subject to the government's approval. And the juridical person status was granted to such cooperatives, with manager acting as the cooperative's representative. So this was the period initiating the entitlement of the institutions in charge of irrigation undertakings in Taiwan with the legal status. Although the emphasis of irrigation undertakings in this period was concentrated on facility rehabilitation, the efforts made during this period helped set a firm foundation for future outstanding irrigation development in Taiwan.

  5. C. Government-owned Ponds and Canals Period (1908-1920)
  6. During this period, the drainage and irrigation projects were mainly funded and constructed by the government, particularly for the large projects where the private sector could not afford to construct. Hydropower development also became an important concern in order to fully exploit water resources. The "Regulation on Government-owned Ponds and Canals" and the "Organizational Regulation on Irrigation Cooperatives of Government-owned Ponds and Canals" were also enacted, which bettered the management and organizational structure of the irrigation entities.

    The "Regulation on Government-owned Ponds and Canals" specified the rules on land acquisition for irrigation-use and relevant compensation; and on the applicability of imposition of national taxation to that of water use fee. The Regulation further stipulated that the land owners who used the government-owned ponds and canals may require their tenants to share all or part of water use fee. In cases where the cultivating lands were owned by the government, the tenants should be fully responsible for paying such fee. Violators of the Regulation should be subject to punishment of detention, fines, or imprisonment, depending on the severity of the violation committed.

  7. D. Irrigation Cooperatives Period (1921-1944)
  8. Irrigation organizations developed on many projects during this period, including massive construction of irrigation and drainage systems as well as land consolidation, windbreak establishment for roads, and saline land and gravel land improvement. The "Taiwan Irrigation Cooperative Decree", the Enforcement Rules on Irrigation Cooperatives", and the "Guidelines for Rules to be stipulated by Irrigation Cooperatives" were also promulgated to reinforce the management of the irrigation entities. According to the Taiwan Irrigation Cooperative Decree, the chairman of a cooperative should be a government appointee, but not necessarily a cooperative member, and with each service term of four years. In addition, a cooperative' staff should be assigned from the government officials. Up to this time, the government has in fact secured its control over all the irrigation cooperatives, ensuring the Public Juridical Person status of these cooperatives while having paved a sound foundation for irrigation undertaking entities. In 1941, the "Agricultural Water Conservancy Adjustment Decree" was promulgated as a legal basis for the merging of the 108 irrigation cooperatives into 47, which were further consolidated into 38 in 1944. All of these efforts were made to make sure that water resources were fully utilized and well conserved.

  9. E. Irrigation Coordination Associations Period (1945-1947)
  10. The Second World War left no complete irrigation and drainage systems in its wake. Irrigation efforts during this period focused mainly on rehabilitation of the war-damaged facilities in order to promote rice production. In 1946, the original 38 irrigation cooperatives were re-organized into 39 new civil groups and renamed as "Irrigation Coordination Associations", and meanwhile re-named the 15 then existing water hazard prevention cooperatives as the "Flood Prevention Coordination Associations". The Irrigation Coordination associations also started to allow farmers to vote for the chairman and give the elected chairman the right to select and employ staff of the entity.

  11. F. Irrigation Committees Period (1948-1955)
  12. In 1948, the Irrigation Coordination Associations and the Flood Prevention Coordination Associations were merged and re-organized to form a total of 40 Irrigation Committees, while maintaining their civil group status. These newly established committees were mainly responsible for the water management of irrigation and drainage systems, and water hazards control for the farmlands within their respective jurisdiction. The committee's members were both elected and appointed. The elected members were voted by general members and consisted of half of landowners and half of tenant representatives. The appointed members were made by the government and came from the county-level construction bureau chiefs, township/county mayors, experts and local enthusiasts. Chairman was then elected among the committee's members themselves and served a term of four years.

    The supervisory bodies of an irrigation committee consisted of two administrative levels of government: the concerned city/county governments and the Provincial Water Conservancy Bureau, depending on the sizes of irrigation areas related to the irrigation committee. However, the lack of binding regulations promulgated through legislature on clear division of rights and responsibilities for the committees' members as well as the chairmen, had often led to controversies when civil rights and obligations were involved. In 1955, the government approved the "Regulation on Taiwan's Irrigation Committees Improvement" and also the "Organizational Regulation on Taiwan's Irrigation Associations" to solve the existing organizational defects of the irrigation committees at that time.

  13. G. Irrigation Associations Period (after 1956)
  14. In 1956, the 40 Irrigation Committees were again re-organized to become a total of 26 Irrigation Associations. The Water Law further stipulated that Irrigation Associations were autonomous entities entitled the status of public juridical persons.

    Later in 1965, the government promulgated the General Rules Governing the Organization of Irrigation Associations as the guiding principle for the organization, operation and management, and supervision of irrigation associations at the central level. Irrigation Associations have then undergone a series of consolidation and re-organization into 17 Irrigation Associations, of which 15 are scattered around the Province of Taiwan and two in the city of Taipei. The chairman of each Irrigation Associations was elected by the member- representatives, which were elected by the farmers.

    Due to recent socio-economic change, the General Rules that promulgated in 1965 was revised in 1993 for the purpose of promoting irrigation efficiency and improving farmer service. The chairman was government appointee; the member-representatives were suspended and replaced by the so-called "Association Committees" who were also appointed by the government. However, this General Rules was revised again by the congress in 2001, with both chairman and association committees been elected by the members.


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