April 6 (UPI) — Taiwan has started to cut water supply to its central region for two days a week as an ongoing drought threatens chipmakers amid a global semiconductor shortage.
The Taiwanese government began to ration water Tuesday to its central region that includes Taichung, Miaoli, Hsinchu and Changhua, Taiwan News reported.
Central and southern Taiwan are grappling with a water crisis amid an unprecedented drought. Typhoons that typically bring substantial rain to the island did not make a landfall in 2020, the report said.
Water reservoir levels remain critically low on the island. Southern Taiwanese cities including Hsinchu, Chiayi, Tainan and Kaohsiung could soon be expected to undergo water rationing. Kaohsiung is Taiwan’s third-largest city with a population of nearly 3 million people.
The water shortage has forced the country to prioritize producers of semiconductors. Bloomberg reported last month Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., or TSMC, and Micron Technology Inc., would not be affected by the water restrictions. Both companies have plants in Taichung in central Taiwan.
The red alert on the water supply was issued for the first time in six years in March.
Taiwanese Economics Minister Wang Mei-hua said last month Taiwan has enough water to keep tech firms running until late May. Seasonal rains are expected to pick up around that time, Wang said, according to Bloomberg.
TSMC needs 156,000 tons of water daily, Nikkei Asia reported last month. Earlier this year the company was not ruling out truck deliveries of water for manufacturing.
Water quality “is extremely critical to chip production lines and the processes,” TSMC said last month, according to Nikkei Asia.
“It could affect product performance, so that needs to be handled very carefully. … So far, the situation is manageable, but if it does not rain properly and continues like this until the end of May, that would be a real big problem.”