Korea's annual precipitation is estimated at 1,283 mm, which is 1.3 times higher than the world's average precipitation (973 mm). However, annual precipitation per capita is estimated at 2,705 ton, just one tenth of the world's average. Also, the nation marks 1,550 ton per capita in terms of available domestic water resources, making it one of the water-scarce countries determined by UN. Despite the high water usage rate compared to other OECD countries, Korea faces another challenge in undertaking dam constructions due to submittals of civil compliances and environmental impacts in dam surrounding areas. Additionally, Korea has accomplished the formidable task of improving water supply rate in metropolitan areas by reach 98.5%, yet the rate in rural areas merely stayed at 31.1%.
In response to these challenges, the Ministry of Environment (MOE) launched Comprehensive Measures on Water Saving in March 2000 and has been pursuing demand-oriented water policies in replacement of supply-oriented policies. Furthermore, significant investments are being made in bridging the water supply disparity between urban and rural areas as well as to strengthen water treatment capacities to provide people with safe tap water.
As of December 2002, Korea's water supply rate was 88.7% and sewage treatment rate was 75.8% (daily capacity in waterworks facilities = 28,561,000 tons, daily capacity in sewage treatment facilities = 20,233,000 tons) Despite these relative high coverage rates, the government was required to make further efforts to mitigate water supply disparity that still existed across the nation. Correspondingly, MOE made a total investment of 247.2 billion Won (215 million USD) in 122 facilities located in farming and fishing communities (71 facilities, 94 billion Won), small islands (43 facilities, 71.9 billion Won), and small and medium cities (8 facilities, 81.3 billion Won) in 2003. Also, more than 2.7 trillion Won (2.3 billion USD) of investment was allocated for the quality improvement projects in water resource areas, including the installation of 443 sewage treatment facilities and 4,992km of water pipe renewals. (Please go to page 63 for more details)
Drinking water treatment measures have been widely expanded in order to address public concerns related to waterborne viruses and pathogens. Among these efforts include the development of comprehensive plans for the adoption of water treatment standards as well as for the improvements in water purification facilities ('03.4). In addition, MOE provided thorough technical support for a total of 140 small (70) and technically vulnerable (70) facilities.
In particular, the government has introduced advanced water treatment technologies in facilities taking raw water from the 3 major rivers (Han, Nakdong, Yonsan) that are contaminated by domestic and industrial wastes, covering 50% of the total project budget. These advanced techniques have been adopted in 17 facilities by 2002 and will also be introduced in Moon-san County in Paju City, Moon-san County in Dae-gu City, and Ban-song County in Chang-won City. In parallel, expert training for the operators and operation assessments will also be undertaken in order to enhance the efficiency of newly upgraded water treatment facilities. Furthermore, MOE is making a vast investment of 3.8 trillion Won (3.3 billion USD) (1997~2011) to replace 42,757 km of aged water pipes across the nation. During 1997 ~2002, 13,799km water pipes were replaced with the investment of 1.7 trillion Won (1.5 billion USD). MOE prioritizes scientific water management that will secure tap water quality, and a shift to consumer-oriented water management that will lead to greater reliability for trust from citizens.
MOE saw another policy success by saving 585 million tons of water in 2003 compared to the record of 1999 through active promotion of the Comprehensive Measures on Water Saving, a wide-ranging set of measures that encompasses 14 action items including the expansion of water saving/reuse devices, adoption of a new water charge system that encourages greater water saving, and gradual replacement of aged water pipelines. With these measures, MOE set the national water saving target to save 790 million tons of water by 2006.
In particular, significant efforts were made in the area of raising citizen's awareness on water saving. MOE organizes annual Water Day ceremony, and bolsters its endeavors through the promotion of various cultural activities and contests relating to the themes of water and children and the opening of the "I Love Water" homepage. (www.ilovewater.or.kr)
With the launch of the sewage treatment improvement project together with the Comprehensive Measures on the Provision of Clean Water in early 1990s, Korea had attained 75.8% sewage treatment rate by 2002. In addition, concrete measures are underway to help manage sewage and excreta in a greater efficiency. (Please go to page 64 for more details.)
In accordance with the Comprehensive Plans for Water Management established in August 1996, water treatment facilities are undergoing a significant expansion with the target of raising water quality in major supply sources to the grade level 2 (see chart on page 19). By 2003, 243 sewage treatment facilities were built, and 254 treatment facilities are being built with the investment of 659 billion Won (573 million USD).
MOE directed special focus on sewage management in year 2002 by forming the "Special Taskforce for Sewage Pipeline Rehabilitation" with participants from the Ministry of Environment, local agencies, and Environment Management Cooperation (EMC). As a result, the Comprehensive plans for sewage pipeline rehabilitation were established, and in particular, remediation pilot projects have been launched in 9 local governments around the Paldang reservoir. These projects will go on during 2002~05, and 650 billion Won (565 million USD) total investment will be injected for a successful implementation of the pilot measures.