[EDITORIALS]A waste of time and water

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[EDITORIALS]A waste of time and water

Today is World Water Day, designated by the United Nations. Flood control and irrigation, after all, were the primordial function of the first governments.
The Korean government forecasts that the nation will face a water shortage of 790 million tons in 2011. Presuming that individual regions try to divide water as equally as possible, the country will still lack 340 million tons of water. The government plans to make up for the amount by developing underground water sources or constructing large reservoirs for agriculture.
The government, in its long-term water resource development plan in 2001, estimated that the water shortage would amount to 1.8 billion tons in 2011. However, when environmental organizations opposed that estimate on the grounds that the government exaggerated the figure to justify the construction of dams, the assessment was halved.
The plan was also revised, aiming to lessen the water shortage by urging people to use less water. However, using less water is not so easy when incomes are rising and more people are moving into modern abodes. Accordingly, if the nation fails to cut water usage the way the government plans, Korea could see a water shortage in a few years that will be worse than estimated.
Nations across the globe are busy preparing to unveil measures to secure sufficient water resources, for fear that the water shortage will become the most serious disaster on earth. China has completed its Three Gorges Dam, which can accommodate a maximum of 39.3 billion tons of water ― the world’s largest reserve.
Japan is building 200 small dams around the country. Yet Korea has failed to build a single dam since 1990. Developing new water resources is as crucial as reducing total water usage. The government and environmental groups are not supposed to be engaging in psychological warfare over estimates for water shortages right now.
Recently, the extreme fluctuation in the weather has increased the frequency of floods and droughts, in turn enlarging the scope of their environmental damage. It will be difficult to protect against large-scale natural disasters with a simple water-demand control method or by using flood-prevention measures.
Korea has been designated by the group Population Action International as a country under “water stress.” Securing water resources cannot be done within a short period. We need to try our best not to make our next generation suffer a water shortage.
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