Long-existing Wulai outdoor hot spring pools are a thing of the past

The long-existing free outdoor hot spring facilities in the popular hot spring town of Wulai in northern Taiwan are now a memory of the past for many (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--The long-existing free outdoor hot spring facilities in the popular hot spring town of Wulai in northern Taiwan’s New Taipei City are now a memory of the past for many who had soaked in the hot spring pools by the Nanshi River as the site has been demolished by the city government.     

New Taipei City Government said on Thursday that public safety, sanitation and illegality concerns surrounding the Wulai outdoor hot spring pools by the river had long been an issue. The facilities were built by enthusiasts who frequented the outdoor hot spring in Wulai.

The city government gave the builders of the pools and shacks one month from April 13 to demolish their facilities. However, the builders failed to do so as expected, so the city government took upon itself and demolished the pools, shacks and other illegally built attachments according to law, the city government said.     

The free Wulai outdoor hot spring facilities, which were open to anybody, were located within the controlled Nanshi River territory, and it is against the law to build any facilities within the area, the city government said. 

Even though there are signs prohibiting swimming in this stretch of river, people usually ignored the signs and engaged in such activities as swimming and diving in the river in addition to hot spring soaking. During typhoons or torrential rains, many people still remained in the outdoor pools, and there were at least two fatal incidents in 2015, according to the city government.

The Wulai outdoor hot spring pools were also located within the drinking water protection area, and the facilities had caused environmental pollution and affected the water quality, the city government said, adding that local residents and tourists had also complained about the makeshift shacks being an eyesore.   

The city government added that a hearing on the demolition was held at the Wulai District Office on March 10, and most local residents voiced their support for the demolition.