[EDITORIALS]War with garbage armadaAfter the heavy rains swept the country, the nation's major water reservoirs, which supply drinking water, were flooded with garbage washed down from upstream. Clearing the mountains of garbage has become an urgent task for the authorities. In the flood-stricken areas, the stinking garbage has created delayed efforts to rebuild damaged facilities.
Watching the garbage float in the muddy water, one questions whether the water is safe for drinking. According to the Environment Ministry, the amount of garbage at Cheongju Dam is estimated to be 1,600 tons; Andong Dam 1,000 tons. The total at 12 dams is estimated at around 4,500 tons. From the mountains, valleys and villages upstream, trees, branches, vinyl acetate sheets, bottles, furniture and home appliances were carried away by the flood, creating a huge garbage depot. Since pesticide bottles have been found in the mess, thinking how badly the water is contaminated is terrifying.
Because of the huge amount of garbage and muddy water, supplying water for treatment at the cleaning bed is not easy. Water supplied to filtering beds in Seoul was found recently to be 400 times more impure than usual and less alkaline. The mountain of garbage swept down to the sea also creates headaches. Garbage floating down the Han River contaminated fish farms and other maritime nurseries in the sea off Incheon. In Ulsan port, huge mountains of garbage from the Taehwa River created problems for maritime traffic.
Collecting garbage caught by dams is the responsibility of the water resource management office and removal and treatment is to be done by local governments. Due to a shortage of equipment and manpower, however, it will take quite some time to clear the huge amount of trash. If clearing the garbage is delayed, the decay of waste will certainly contaminate the water. The government offices concerned should give priority to the collection and treatment of garbage by giving all the support it can to complete the job. Clearing garbage swept downstream by heavy rain is becoming an annual headache. Reminding people of the hazardous consequences is urgent. Trash left on mountains and in valleys is destined to contaminate the water we drink.