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  Large Canal IrrigationTaiwan Hydraulic Organization Developments



Qing Dynasty: Autonomous approach in the Private Sector; Passive approach in the Government


Before the Japanese Colonial Period, most hydraulic facilities had been constructed and managed by the private groups. The local government failed to take an active role in managing the hydraulic facilities. Most officials took a more passive approach. Generally speaking, the government merely played the role of issuing permits (canal licenses, admonitions, and seals) or acted as the judge and law enforcer when there was a dispute.

During earlier periods, most Chia-Nan Canal hydraulic facilities were co-setup by villagers. In order to manage these equipments, they would either recommend or invite a reservoir supervisor to inspect, repair the canal, distribute water, and water thieves. The people that channeled water would pay the water supervisor with grains of rice. When there was canal damage, they were required to fix it.


Japanese Colonial Period: Setup laws and exercise public water rights.


During early Japanese rule, The Office of the Taiwan Governor General continued the operation mode like that of the Qing Dynasty. In July 1901, The Office of the Taiwan Governor General promulgated “Taiwan Public Reservoir/Canal Code” and began active management. All hydraulic facilities of public reservoir canals were ordered to be under direct local government supervision, and data was to be recorded. (Water source, path, and manager etc.) In 1913, The Office of the Taiwan Governor General amended the rules that interested parties of reservoirs and canals (Those who had used water sources and those who had been affiliated with the water source users) were entitled to setup corporate reservoirs/canals. This grouping was bound by laws, and the labor division inside organizations was clarified. Moreover, these corporate reservoirs/canals were entitled to borrow money from the bank.
In 1908, The Office of the Taiwan Governor General promulgated “Government Reservoir/Canal Code”. The government was directly involved in the management of larger hydraulic facilities. The government reservoir/canal assemblies were often managed by Public Works Department Civil Engineering Section Head or authorities. Landowners, tenants or other water source users were all members of the group. As compared to the public reservoir/canal Assembly, the public reservoir/canal assembly was much stricter in its management.

After 1920, government reservoir/canal was reformed into a public reservoir/canal in which the management right was given to the local government. In 1921, The Office of the Taiwan Governor General promulgated “Taiwan Irrigation assembly Regulation” in which the public reservoir/canal assemblies gradually combined into one and changed into irrigation assemblies one by one. They were directly appointed by the governor or local authorities. Inside the group, half of its members are appointed by the government although there was an election team. Resolutions had to be first agreed on by The Office of the Taiwan Governor General before executions were allowed.


Website reference

Dept. of Irrigation and Engineering

ebsite reference

Taiwan Joint Irrigation Association, R.O.C.


The Period of the Republic of China: Autonomous private groups are public agencies in form


In 1946, the R.O.C. government renamed irrigation Group and Public Reservoir/canal Assembly as Farmland Irrigation Association. The association chairman was elected by the election committee members. This is rather different than that of the Japanese Colonial Period when group leaders were directly appointed by local officials. Both had the same organization structure, however. The following year, Taiwan Province Department of Construction, Water Resources Bureau, and regional farmland irrigation associations were monitored and supervised. In 1948, the government regrouped Irrigation Association into Irrigation Committee in which the members were elected directly by its members. The list also includes the local authorities (Permanent Secretaries) and Irrigation experts (expert commissioners). After the committee selected the chief commissioner and the vice chief commissioner, the names were passed to the Water Resources Bureau for appointment.
After the regrouping, the government had more control over the irrigation committee but in the absence of law enforcement, the irrigation committee was like a government agency in form but was still generally viewed as a private group. It was neither a public nor a private organization. Difficulties were encountered as a result. In 1956, the government promulgated “Taiwan Province Irrigation Association Organization code”. The 40 irrigation committees in the nation were combined into 26. These irrigation associations were entitled to corporate rights, were allowed to exercise governing rights but did not fall under the jurisdiction of government agencies.
Later on, finance and personnel related problems were frequent occurrences due to corruptions. The government was forced to propose a comprehensive plan intended for irrigation associations in 1975. Member elections were terminated temporarily. The chairman was directly appointed by the provincial government and the irrigation associations were combined into 14 in number. It was not till 1982 was the autonomy of public juridical persons restored. 2 to 3 people were nominated by the government but it was the committee that selected the chairman. After the election system was restored, local factions manipulated the system and tampered with election results. In 1993, The Legislative Yuan passed the amended “The General Guidelines for Irrigation Association Organizations”. As stated in the general guidelines, the chairman and committee members are to be selected by the government. The “committee representative system” was changed into the foundation system”. The following year, irrigation associations in the nation under Ministry of Economic Affairs were relisted as under Agriculture Committee. The chairman was directly appointed by the government to minimize interventions from local factions. The government hoped to change all irrigation associations into public agencies. However, after 2002, the chairman was again elected by committee members. Strictly speaking, irrigation associations were only ostensibly called public agencies.


Summary of Irrigation Association Organization Developments

Qing Dynasty

※Privately built, managed, and free traded
※There was no irrigation establishment among local government organizations.


Japanese Colonial Period

※In 1901, “Taiwan Public Reservoir/canal Code” was promulgated and managed actively.
※In 1908, “Government Reservoir/canal Code” was promulgated and managed by government reservoir/canal assembly.
※In 1921, “Taiwan Irrigation Assembly Regulation” was promulgated and the reservoir/canal Assembly was renamed Irrigation Assembly.


Period of the R.O.C.

※In 1946, Irrigation Assembly and Public Reservoir/canal assembly were regrouped as Farmland Irrigation Association.
※In 1948, Irrigation Association was regrouped Irrigation Committee.
※In 1956, 40 irrigation committees were combined into 26 irrigation associations.
※In 1975, the chairman was appointed by the government and the irrigation associations were reduced to 14 in number.
※In 2002, the chairman was elected by members.


Irrigation Association Distribution

Dept. of Irrigation and Engineering


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