NA­TIONAL

The Korea Times - - FRONT PAGE - By Kim Se-jeong skim@ktimes.com

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.

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