[EDITORIALS]Act Now to Relieve Water ShortageWater deficiency has worsened. Although a welcome rainfall has helped to ease the crisis, we no longer have time to delay measures on water management, considering the aggravating spring drought.
Korea's annual rainfall is about 1,283 millimeters, not too significantly low, but the high population has pulled down the amount of rainfall per person to only 12 percent of the world average. Furthermore, two thirds of the rainfall is concentrated during the rainy season, and 76 percent of the rain runs into rivers and the sea because of the mountainous nature of the Korean Peninsula. Based on such geographic characteristics of our country, water deficiency is the unavoidable reality. Although the government claimed to have enough water supplies for the time being, residents of the Dongducheon area are suffering from a water shortage, hinting that the problem has already begun.
Some pointed out that we use too much water, but the amount of water used per person at home is 177 liters per month, far lower than that of Japan (240 liters). As incomes go up water consumption also goes up. If such conditions continue, the water deficiency will be intensified after five years, and more than 80 percent of the total population will suffer shortages by 2011, hinting the seriousness of the problem. Water deficiency will also seriously damage our economy, industries, living standards and national welfare in general. In order to manage water in our country effectively and efficiently, the government should reinforce its central control on the water management systems, which have been managed separately by the ministries of environment, construction and transportation and agriculture and forestry as well as local autonomous bodies. The government also needs to manage water demand by adjusting the water price, promoting water conservation facilities and replacing old pipelines. It should develop alternative water resources by developing underground water and recycling systems.
Also, the government should hurry to build more dams because resolving the perennial water deficiency entails controlling supplies. Starting with small and medium scale dams, which are environmentally friendly, the government should also build multi-purpose dams. The situation is acute. How long do we have to look up at the sky with forlorn hope?