Our urgent water crisis
One misfortune follows on the heels of another due to severe winter droughts nationwide. As of Thursday, the Environment Ministry said that more than 170,000 people in 790 villages nationwide have been suffering severely limited water supply.
The regions suffering from drought have not had sufficient precipitation since last summer. Since July 2008, the Taebaek area has only had 600 millimeters of precipitation, just 60 percent of the year before. There are increased concerns about persistent droughts even before summer hits.
Concerns over water shortages caused by unusual weather have been raised for a long time. But a nationwide policy for maintaining reliable long-term water supplies based on scientific analysis has still not been implemented.
First and foremost, the government should address the immediate problem. Emergency measures should be taken as early as possible for the regions where local governments are scuffling over water. In particular, an ample supply of drinking water should be ensured through an additional budget, if necessary.
The provision of spring water and tap water in plastic bottles should be expanded, and water wagons and water boats should be sent as often as possible. Water sources should be secured by obtaining access to underground water. In the long term, small-scale dams and reservoirs should be built or expanded to control water supply. Basins should be expanded to prevent droughts and floods.
In particular, the efficiency of the water supply network should be improved. Replacement of old water pipes will protect our drinking water sources and reduce water waste, also contributing to mitigating droughts. Expanding the scope of underground water storage facilities is another possibility. The amount of tap water in use in agricultural and fishing villages, now just 40 percent, should be drastically increased. The establishment of facilities designed to desalinate seawater in coastal areas and islands is a good alternative.
Korea is one of the countries identified by the United Nations to be suffering from water scarcity. If people in urban areas waste their water by taking advantage of well-equipped water supply facilities, who knows whether they will suffer from a water crisis in the future?
In this regard, we should share the pain with our agricultural and fishing villages and save water to help the national economy recover from a crisis.