[Green Korea] Four Major Rivers Restoration Project: Bigger basins, cleaner water
2010-08-09 PM 1:22:30
The Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, the state-led construction project to repair the rivers Han, Nakdong, Yeongsan and Geum, is a plan for the future, to pass down clean water sources to the next generations. Some argue that the project will only leave the ecology in ruins, but nothing could be farther from the truth. This article describes some of the expected results after the project is completed on all four rivers.
Divide the amount of water pollutants by the amount of water flow and you’ll get the figure for the pollution level of a river. To reduce the level of pollution, the solution is to either increase the amount of water flow or decrease the amount of pollutants.
The Four Major Rivers Restoration Project intends to establish dams, reservoirs, banks and other environment-friendly facilities to enlarge water basins, so that a larger amount of clean water can be secured. This also entails establishing a bigger sewage system, facilities to prevent green algae and re-alignment of nearby farmlands to control the usage of fertilizer and other materials that could harm the river.
Once the project is completed, Korea will have secured extra reservoir space that can contain 1.3 billion cubic meters of water. More water will mean less water pollution, even during the dry season. Projects like dredging up mud from the river bottom can also have the same effect of eliminating pollutants.
The government has selected 34 out of 66 regions close to the rivers that need intense pollution control. The government also has plans to pursue over 1,300 kinds of pollution-reduction projects and install a total phosphorus (TP) facility on some 250 waste water systems.
The National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) testified that extra water will assure a significant improvement in water quality in all four rivers by 2012. According to the NIER estimate, Korea will have increased the rate of clean water from the current 76 percent to 86 percent by having reduced the level of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) within water to below 3㎎/ℓ (the lower the BOD, the better the water).
Water with such a low BOD level only requires a filtering system and not chemical procedures to make it potable. Check out the present conditions of the four rivers.
Current river water quality
The state of the Nakdong River has been deteriorating since 2003. The Ministry of Environment revealed in its study that 27 out of 41 water courses showed steady increases in their BOD after comparing the figures from 2004 to 2009. The pollutants that continued to accumulate within the riverbeds were mostly blamed on the reduction of water and increase of algae, especially during the dry season. In such cases even the most advanced water treatment system will have trouble completely cleansing the river.
The water of the Nakdong River is being used by people in the Busan region. The extra water expected to be secured through the four rivers project is likely to play a great role in tackling this problem.
The Geum River is not in great shape either. Again, the environment ministry revealed through its three-year study from 2007 to 2009 that its annual water quality has only worsened. Its BOD level went up by 36.7 percent, attributed to the influx of earth and sand that continued to pile up beneath the river and together with pollutants from nearby farmlands.
Experts believe the problem can be taken care of by employing an advanced water treatment system that comes with dredging river bottoms, erecting reservoir beams and wider water-friendly systems within the city.
The Yeongsan River used to be one of the key watercourses to the sea. But the influx of sea water through the tidal flow led to the creation of three dams on the upper river region and Yeongsan estuary bank. The existing water source moved from the Yeongsan River to the nearby rivers of Seomjin and Tamjin, leaving the Yeongsan largely as a venue for processing of daily sewage and livestock waste.
Things turned worse when waste water from factories and other waste systems started to flow in directly. After some re-arrangement from the River Project, the Yeongsan River in the Damyang region is expected to re-gain its old status as having clean, safe water.
The Han River is in somewhat better condition than other rivers mentioned above, thanks to more prompt investment from the government. However, seasonal changes in the amount of pollutants and the advent of small amounts of harmful substances that don’t even show up on BOD or chemical oxygen demand (COD) scales are some concerning signs.
Water pollution intensifies around February to April, due to reduction of water inflow and it is also the period when farmers apply fertilizer to their farms around the region. Some of the fertilizer leaches into the water table, and then to the river.
The waterway of the Han River needs to be realigned, three new reservoirs need to be created and the existing 12 ones enlarged to secure an additional 50 million tons of water. This will prevent the loss of water captured during the wet seasons to be supplied during the dry season from February to April and prevent further pollution.
[Green Korea] Four Major Rivers Restoration Project: Bigger ..