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Water intake leak threatens supplies to central Japan areas home to Toyota, other firms

NAGOYA -- A major leak has occurred at the Meiji Canal water headworks, a water intake facility in the Aichi Prefecture city of Toyota, which could leave 131 business locations, including car manufacturing facilities, without supplies of industrial water, the Aichi Public Enterprise Bureau said on May 17.

    This photo taken from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter shows the Meiji Canal water headworks where a major water leak occurred, in the Aichi Prefecture city of Toyota on the morning of May 18, 2022. (Mainichi/Takao Kitamura)
    An official from the Aichi Public Enterprise Bureau explains the leak from the water intake facility at a news conference at the Aichi Prefectural Government headquarters on May 17, 2022. (Mainichi/Shiho Sakai)

    The bureau is trying to pinpoint the cause and is instructing related businesses to try to conserve as much industrial water as possible. It is not known when the problem will be resolved.

    As a result of the leak, Osaka Gas Co. suspended operation of its Nagoya power plant in the Aichi Prefecture town of Taketoyo at 1 p.m. on May 18, and said it planned to suspend its No. 2 plant in the same town at 9 p.m. It is unclear when operations of the plants will resume, according to the utility.

    The Aichi Prefectural Government said that at around 6 p.m. on May 17, water intake from the Yahagi River stopped. The headworks sends water to the Anjo water treatment plant in the Aichi Prefecture city of Anjo, but as a result of the leak, the plant could no longer secure enough water. The plant supplies industrial water to 131 business locations in nine cities and three towns. These include many automobile-related businesses including Toyota Motor Corp.

    According to the prefectural government, the water treatment plant was no longer able to receive water from the headworks from around 4:45 a.m. on May 18. It was expected that the supply of industrial water would stop about four hours after that, but it appeared that efforts to conserve water proved effective, as the supply had not ceased as of 11:30 a.m. However, the supply of agricultural water in parts of eight municipalities including the cities of Toyota and Okazaki has been cut off since May 17. Ordinary households have not been affected.

    The downstream section of the Meiji Canal water headworks, where a major leak has occurred, is pictured at around 7 p.m. on May 17, 2022, in this photo provided by the Aichi Prefectural Government.

    Officials say the water treatment plant is not designed to receive industrial water from other plants. Restoration work is continuing at the intake facility, with 25 pumps being used temporarily to draw water.

    Earthquake reinforcement work has been underway at the water intake facility since 2015, but it is not clear if this is related to the leak. According to the Aichi Prefectural Government, the average daily water supply from the Anjo water treatment plant in April reached about 143,000 cubic meters.

    (Japanese original by Shiho Sakai, Nagoya News Center, and Aya Iguchi, Osaka Business News Department; Video by Shinichiro Kawase, Nagoya News Center, and Takao Kitamura, Osaka Photo Department)

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