OECD lauds the Four Great Rivers Restoration Project as a measure for upgrading Korea as a leading water management nation
Korea Water Resources Corp. held a ceremony to celebrate World Water Day at the Grand Ballroom of Kintex with the theme of “Safe Water Against Climate Change,” attended by around 800 participants led by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and various ministers and representatives of related civic organizations.
After the ceremony, the participants viewed the Water Korea Exhibition including photos of the water resources management samples from the Four Great Rivers Restoration Project, the OECD Projection for Environment Prospect 2050, and Expectations for Korea Leaping to be a leading nation for water management.
Photos on exhibition included those of the weirs linking Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, and Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, which are considered to be the most beautiful of all 16 weirs built in the four rivers restoration project.
The OECD recently unveiled the Water Chapter of the OECD Environment Prospect 2050, introducing Korea s Four Great Rivers Restoration Project as one of the most integrated projects and closest samples of green growth combined with water resources management.
The Four Great Rivers Restoration Project is designed to control floods by building river beds to make water flow well, the most effective project “to kill five birds with just one stone,” to describe the appropriateness of the project for restoring the rivers.
The OECD issued the OECD Environment Prospect 2030 in March 2008 and has been working on the OECD Environment Prospect 2050 involving four major areas: climate change, water, biological diversity, and environmental health.
The OECD released its Water Chapter on the occasion of the 6th Global Water Forum held recently in Marseille, France. The report included the current situations on the quantity of water in the world, water quality, piped water, and sewage and water and its prospects in 2050.
With regard to Korea s Four Great Rivers Restoration Project, the report said the project is a good example of water management and green growth as an integrated plan and also said Korea has been investing 2 percent of GDP into green sector projects since 2009 and plans to invest an equal amount through 2013. The government has set aside 20 percent of the amount, or $17.6 billion, for the Four Great Rivers Restoration Project.
“Korea is the country with the most water stress among OECD countries”
The project aims to secure 1.3 billion tons of water to be ready for water shortages, and also to be prepared for a great flood that has visited the country every two centuries on average by building weirs and dredging. It also includes building water reservoirs capable of holding 920 million tons of water to prevent floods.
The project is also designed to upgrade the water quality in rivers to 3ppm BOD (biological oxygen demand), recover water ecology with 223 recovery projects, and secure spaces along the river banks to manage the rivers.
This year is the year for completion of the great project and the government expects to reap $32.8 billion worth of economic benefits and create 340,000 jobs. The experience and technologies developed to complete the project are being counted on to put Korea among the leading countries in water management in the world.
According to the OECD report, the number of people who live in regions with serious water shortages will increase rapidly to 3.9 billion in 2050 from 1.6 billion in 2000 °™ about 40 percent of the world s population exposed to serious water shortage problems.
Korea s water stress rate is at more than 40 percent, the highest among OECD members. The water stress rate is calculated by water quantity compared to water demand °™ the higher the rate, the greater the seriousness of water shortages.
The Korean government submitted to the OECD the Four Great Rivers Restoration Project as a means to decrease the water stress rate by increasing the water supply and the OECD commented that the project is a good example of water management.
“Approach to Clean Water is a Requirement for a Healthy Life”
Chief of the International Office at the Ministry of Environment Kim Sang-hoon said an approach to clean water is a requirement for a healthy life and water management to satisfy that requirement is a challenging factor around the globe.
K-water President & CEO Kim Keun-ho
He said a lack of policy change in water management and processes coupled with an improvement in technology and the competition for clean water will deepen by 2050 and the situation will grow worse as the uncertainty for securing clean water increases, which is a key message of the OECD report.
Kim also said Korea is one of the member countries of the OECD with serious water stress, but its piped water charges are the second lowest among the OECD members. “We need to reconsider water charges and change them to an appropriate level after securing funds to improve the potable water and sewage facilities.”