Reclamation participates in 30th anniversary meetings with American Institute in Taiwan and Taiwan Water Resources Agency

Written by: Angela Medina

David Palumbo and Mr. Chien-Hson Lai, Director General, Water Resources Agency signing the agreement.
David Palumbo and Mr. Chien-Hson Lai, Director General, Water Resources Agency signing the agreement.
A six-member team from the Bureau of Reclamation, led by Deputy Commissioner for Operations David Palumbo, traveled to Taipei, Taiwan to participate in the 30th Anniversary meeting between the American Institute in Taiwan, Reclamation and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States, October 26-November 1. The annual meetings are held in Taipei and Denver on an alternating basis as part of a 1987 reimbursable Agreement for Technical Assistance in Areas of Water Resources Development. Reclamation serves as the designated technical representative of AIT, the official arm of the U.S. Department of State in Taiwan.

Palumbo led the team in discussions with the Taiwan Water Resources Agency Director-General Dr. Chien-Hsin Lai at the annual meeting, regarding current programs and 2018 technical-assistance requests. Angela Medina, from Reclamation’s International Affairs Office, along with staff from Reclamation’s Technical Service Center, Tim Randle, Yong Lai, Blair Greimann, and Jack Gagliardi, where they added unique capabilities to the team, as well as enabling Reclamation to meet its obligations required under the terms of the Agreement. In addition to the annual meeting, planned events included site visits to three Taiwan water-management facilities.

Appendix 6 and 8 of the 1987 Agreement are currently active and fully reimbursable to Reclamation. Ongoing activities under Appendix 8 address sedimentation issues, which are of great concern to the Taiwanese. These reimbursable activities have produced significant benefits for Reclamation in areas such as sediment modeling and experience with reservoir-sediment sluicing options. Through Appendix 6 Reclamation provides technical assistance relating to the design and construction of dams and dam-safety issues in Taiwan, which builds on and reinforces Reclamation’s existing expertise in these areas.

The first site the team visited was the Yuanshantzu Flood-Diversion Tunnel near Taipei. This tunnel was built to bypass sediments so it will not cause issues in reservoirs downstream. After construction, however, the tunnel experienced abrasive damages and WRA is seeking technical ideas on how to prevent abrasion from damaging the tunnel further. WRA also shared their current coating technology to protect the tunnel, which can be beneficial to Reclamation since many spillways and dams owned by Reclamation experience similar issues.

The team also visited the Tsengwen Reservoir Silt Tunnel in Tainan. The high erodibility of Taiwan’s geology makes silt management a particular challenge to continued operation of dams and other water-management facilities in the country. Reclamation has been helping Taiwan develop models for predicting and tools for managing sedimentation at those facilities. These tools and techniques have applicability to Reclamation facilities, where, as they age, sedimentation management is becoming a more important aspect of continued operation and maintenance. The Tsengwen Reservoir faces extreme sedimentation challenges which have led to significant modifications to the facilities. Taiwan awarded a design-build construction contract for a new sediment sluicing tunnel in 2013 and construction was completed in 2016. Design features include an intake or “elephant trunk” pipe, a gate chamber with a vertical access shaft, a tunnel, a bifurcated plunge pool-type energy dissipation structure, a construction-access adit, and a public road access detour tunnel. This site visit allowed Reclamation personnel to see the design features in operation, continuing a process that has bolstered Reclamation’s own expertise in tunnel construction.

Finally, the team visited the Liyutan Reservoir in Miaoli. The reservoir was built for water storage and has a great recreational value. However, sedimentation became a major issue since its construction and new sluicing gates were built to release the sediment out of the reservoir. Reclamation was involved in design discussions on how to build the sluicing gates properly. The labyrinth spillway has a much longer crest length and much greater discharge capacity than a traditional spillway for a given spillway channel width. Liyutan is an off-channel reservoir. Most of the water is diverted into the reservoir through a tunnel from a different drainage so the sediment yield entering the reservoir is relatively small. Liyutan is one of the few reservoirs in Taiwan that does not require annual sediment dredging. Several Reclamation members on the team are currently working on similar projects at Reclamation reservoirs. The visit helped Reclamation learn ways to manage sedimentation issues properly. Reclamation is particularly interested in learning how the previous techniques worked at the site.

The technical assistance and cooperation for water resources program between AIT and Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office was established in the 1980s. Various water resources projects have since been carried out and executed through Reclamation and WRA. Years of collaboration have produced fruitful results and have proven beneficial to both sides in dealing with challenges facing the sustainable use of limited water resources.

Learn more about Reclamation's International Affairs program at

Participants standing on stairs.
Participants from Reclamation and Water Resources Agency in Taiwan.

On a tour standing in front of Yuanshantzu Flood Diversion Tunnnel in Taiwan.
Meeting participants on a tour standing in front of Yuanshantzu Flood Diversion Tunnnel in Taiwan.

Published on December 06, 2017