The government will not allow construction of new dams over the next five years as part of water management policies, the Ministry of Environment said Tuesday. At a policy discussion in Sejong, Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung reported to President Moon Jae-in there will be no more big dams built while she’s in office.
The government will not allow construction of new dams over the next five years as part of water management policies, the Ministry of Environment said Tuesday.
At a policy discussion in Sejong, Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung reported to President Moon Jae-in there will be no more big dams built while she’s in office.
Instead, she said the ministry will make further efforts to prevent leaking underground water pipes, recycle rain and wastewater and develop alternative water sources to deal with droughts.
President Moon, in his first month after the election, consolidated water management so the ministry could administer all water policies — previously the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport had a stake, especially in building dams.
Korea is a water-stressed country. Despite high precipitation during the summer, rain is scarce for the rest of the year and existing facilities can’t hold the monsoon rains.
Preventing water leaks is paramount because experts said the amount of water lost through old pipes reached almost 30 percent. Last year, the ministry began a major water pipe replacement project across the country, spending 51 billion won. Kim proposed dou- bling the amount for next year.
Kim also vowed to end the chronic droughts seen in South Chungcheong Province by 2021. “The goal will be to provide 45,000 tons of water per day for the people in the region.”
She said the ministry will focus on recycling more sewage water for that.
Kim said recycled water from a Boryong wastewater treatment facility will cool down turbines at a power plant nearby starting 2019.
On the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, the minister pledged to monitor the quality of ecosystems and water in small reservoirs.
She vowed to increase the number of spots in the river where water samples are taken for testing and share the test results instantly with residents.
Kim said the ministry, depending on the results of water quality tests, will open discharge gates at six dams further. On June 1, President Moon ordered gates at the six dams to be partially opened to allow some water to pass through. Many experts said that was far from enough, insisting that gates at small dams should be opened completely.
The river restoration project has been a political issue. Conservationists and many ecologists have called the project a total failure that ruined the ecosystems in the four major rivers. They also want former President Lee Myung-bak who spearheaded the project to be held accountable for it.