[EDITORIALS]Upgrade water supply systemThe Environment Ministry announced that more than 700 million tons of water, which amounts to 12 percent of the total tap water produced per year, is leaked through worn-out water supply facilities. This kind of water leakage resulted in a loss of 420 billion won ($356 million) in government revenue in 2002. Each regional administration allots a budget for the replacement of water supply facilities but only 17.2 percent of worn-out facilities were repaired in 2002. The ministry provides loans for the replacement of water facilities to the regional administrations but they have not sought to borrow money because of their dire financial situation.
Even though we are a country that the United Nations has designated as lacking in water, we have not been able to build one new dam because of objections from environmental groups and regions where dams have been proposed. We cannot delay measures to prevent the loss of water merely because of budget constraints. The basic problem is that tap water prices amount to only 87 percent of production costs. The shortfall is funded by tax money, and there is no surplus to invest in infrastructure expansion.
During the Lunar New Year holiday, more than 20,000 ruptures in water supply facilities, subway sprinklers and water gauges occurred throughout the country. Most breaks resulted from worn-out water facilities, along with inadequate use of adiabatic material and poor home construction.
This shows the low standard for infrastructure in both the public and private sector, which cannot withstand such cold weather. Even some apartment house residents said that during the holiday announcements were made by maintenance offices to refrain from using water for fear of pipe ruptures. It means that it is difficult to lead a basic life here, even if the temperature dips to only minus 15 degrees centigrade. What would happen if the temperature reached minus 35 degrees, as it does in Europe and the United States?
Either raise the price of water, or expand financial support for the replacement of worn-out water supply facilities, or require the use of adiabatic material in home construction. We urgently need to expand our basic living infrastructure if we want to endure drought or cold.