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Central Japan water intake facility fends off industrial water cut with temporary pumps

The Meiji Canal water headworks, where a major water leak occurred, is seen in the Aichi Prefecture city of Toyota on the morning of May 18, 2022. (Mainichi/Takao Kitamura)

NAGOYA -- The supply of industrial water that was threatened by a major leak at the Meiji Canal water headworks, a water intake facility in the Aichi Prefecture city of Toyota, is expected to remain intact thanks to stopgap measures, the Tokai Regional Agricultural Administration Office announced on May 19.

    According to the office, which oversees the facility, a temporary measure to draw water from a river with pumps proved effective, averting a stoppage of the water supply. But because it has yet to be able to fill a hole that opened in the riverbed, from which water is leaking, there is no prospect of the problem being fixed permanently anytime soon.

    In the wake of the major water leak, Toyota Motor Corp. partially suspended operations at its main office's factory in Toyota on the night of May 18, but it was able to resume operations later the same day. A Toyota Industries Corp. plant in Obu, Aichi Prefecture, which uses parts manufactured at the main factory, suspended operations on the morning of May 19 due to the stall in supply. It is, however, expected to restart operations by the same evening.

    The water leak at the Meiji Canal water headworks was first confirmed on May 15, and the facility became unable to draw water from the river two days later. It was feared that the supply of industrial water to 131 business locations in nine cities and three towns in the Nishimikawa district including the city of Toyota would be cut off. The district is home to numerous auto-related businesses.

    According to the Tokai Regional Agricultural Administration Office, it used 42 pumps from early on May 19 and managed to secure a flow of 2.72 cubic meters of water per second, a little under the 3 cubic meters per second necessary for industrial water in use in the area. Many workers at the plant continued intake work that day. In the river, shovel loaders shifted soil to improve the water flow and make it easier for the pumps to take in water. Of the 42 pumps, 12 stopped working due to reasons including their hoses being twisted, and workers entered the water to try to fix the problems.

    Yasufumi Yokoyama, head of the Toyota branch of the Yahagi River general second-term farmland disaster prevention office, which operates under the Tokai Regional Agricultural Administration Office, commented, "We'd like to resolve the trouble as quickly as possible. We will boost the number of pumps and power generators in sequence."

    Business associates and local residents were seen flocking to the area around the water intake facility on May 19. An 80-year-old man living in the neighborhood said, "This is part of my walking course, so I'm here after hearing about the incident on the news. I was surprised as the river has never gone dry. I'm worried about farmers and workers in the manufacturing sector."

    (Japanese original by Shiho Sakai, Seiya Tateyama and Shinichiro Kawase, Nagoya News Center)

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