Comprehensive Water Improvement Measures for the Major Rivers
Comprehensive Water Improvement Measures for the Major Rivers
MOE completed the landmark project of establishing water management measures for four major rivers in the country, after holding 420 discussions with affected residents, local governments, and relevant experts during five years from 1998 to 2002. Enacted and enforced were special laws pertaining to the Han River water-shed in August 1999, and the other three river watersheds in July 2002. Through special measures and laws for the four rivers, MOE introduced strong precautionary policies focusing on total pollution load management system, designation of riparian buffer zones and land purchase of water source areas. Also, in order to ensure coexistence and prosperity for both upstream and downstream areas, we applied user-pays principle, and imposed water use charges to raise funds for water-shed management, thereby sup-porting residents who are restricted in exercising their rights to use land and properties at water sources areas. This was called the Watershed Management System.
■ Reshaping of Watershed Management Organization
Local administrations governing upstream and downstream areas in the four river watersheds and major water sources established the Watershed Management Committees, a representative decision-making body aimed at efficiently managing each water-shed. The Watershed Management Committees are established as public corporations at each watershed, and are chaired by the Minister of Environment and consist of relevant mayors, provincial governors, the president of Korea Water Resources Corporation, and heads of other water-related institutes. Water Management Commit-tees establish comprehensive plans for reducing pollutants and improving water quality. They also deal with matters related to imposing and collecting water use charges as well as operation and management of funds. They also handle the purchase of land, establish plans for resident support projects and support NGOs' monitoring of water quality. Also, the committees allow local residents and NGOs to participate in deter-mining major policies on water-shed management for optimal reflection of their opinions. In addition, aimed at overseeing the task of managing watersheds, we operate the Watershed Policy Division at the Water Quality Management Bureau at MOE, as well as Watershed Management Bureau at regional environmental offices consisting of Watershed Planning Section, Water Source Management Section, and Local Cooperation Section. We also operate Total Water Pollution Quantity Section at the National Institute of Environmental Re-search to address technological matters such as water modeling. Additionally, the River Environmental Research Laboratories have been established at each watershed to conduct basic environmental surveys, collect information, and conduct R&D.
■ Total Pollution Load Management System
Regarding the total pollution load system, MOE allows local administrations to determine on their own whether they should implement the system in keeping with local environmental circum-stances, thus striking a balance between environmental conservation and development. Hence, local administrations including Gwang-ju City governing the Paldang Lake watershed plans to establish and implement a basic plan for the total pollution load system in collaboration with MOE. Towards this end, in 2002, we formulated basic guidelines on total pollution load management including the documenting of key pollutants and target water quality. We are now preparing to establish the water quality target at down-stream points at watersheds by dividing the three river watersheds into unit watersheds for total pollution load management.
■ Water Use Charges & Watershed Management Funds
MOE introduced the water use charges system to make up for losses incurred by upstream residents due to land use regulations, to facilitate the construction of basic environmental facilities, and to ensure water saving. This system is based on the user-pays principle, and the aforementioned Watershed Management Commit-tees determine the water use charge per ton every two years. The water use charge for 2003 is 100 won per ton for the Nak-dong River watershed, and 120 won for the Han River, Geum River, and Yeongsan River watersheds. In 2003, Han River expects to collect 263.4 billion won, Nak-dong River 165.1 billion won, Geum River 54.3 billion won, and Yeongsan River 48.5 billion won. Using the collected water use charges, the Watershed Management Committees manage water-shed management funds, and provide support for local administrations in upstream areas to construct and operate basic environmental facilities to improve the quality of water and protect water sources, as well as assist residents and purchase land in riparian buffer zones. In case of the Han River water-shed, MOE raised 743 billion won from 1999 to 2002 and invested 198.2 billion won in supporting residents, 71.6 billion in purchasing land, 187 billion won in constructing basic environmental facilities like sewage disposal and treatment plants, and 104.5 billion won in operating basic environ-mental facilities.
■ Designation of Riparian Buffer Zones
Pollutants created in areas near rivers flow directly into rivers without undergoing purification process, thus degrading the quality of the water. Hence, MOE set certain areas around the rivers as riparian buffer zones to restrict the construction of restaurants, lodging facilities, bathhouses, factories, and livestock sheds. Aiming to recover the eco-system in riparian buffer zones and prevent water pollution by non-point sources, MOE plans to gradually purchase land in riparian buffer zones, and to create riparian buffer forests. For the Han River watershed, 191km2 of land in the Namhan River, Buk-han River and Gyeongan River watersheds were designated as riparian buffer zones; for the Nakdong River watershed, 287km2; for the Geum River watershed, 373km2; and for the Yeongsan River watershed, 222km2 were designated.
■ Purchase of Land
Under the land purchase sys-tem, in case a person who owns land and buildings in water source protection areas, riparian buffer zones, or areas vulnerable to water quality deterioration, wishes to sell them, the buyer is required to consult in advance with the Water-shed Management Committee before buying them. This system helps to diffuse conflicts over infringement on private properties due to regulations, as well as the creation of rampant pollution sources. In case the buyer wishes to re-sell the purchased land or change its use to other than a forest or a green belt, he is required to consult the Watershed Management Committees, thus strictly restricting pollution sources. MOE like-wise pushes to create habitats for creatures, wetlands, bio-embankments and forestry, and restore vibrant ecosystems.