Our water crisisCountries across the globe observed World Water Day yesterday under the auspices of the United Nations as a part of efforts to promote public awareness of the Earth’s most precious natural resource.
Transboundary waters - sharing waters and opportunities - was this year’s theme as a lack of water poses a dire problem worldwide. The demand for water is expected to double over the next 35 years while water resources are running out fast. Today 550 million people live in nations suffering from fragile water supplies, a number expected to reach as many as 3.4 billion by 2025.
Korea is already among the countries designated by the United Nations as water-scarce and there’s an urgent need to combat the problem before it’s too late. The per capita annual precipitation rate stops at 2,591 cubic meters, just one-eighth of the world average. The government projects Korea will be short 797 million cubic meters of water in 2011 and 925 million cubic meters by 2020.
We need to come up with radical measures to solve our water supply crisis. First, legal grounds must be laid to implement and supervise effective water control policies. Water services, sewage and conservation regulations and laws should come together for more effective and authoritative force.
The government is moving in the right direction by seeking a law to promote the re-use of water. Under the law, large public facilities like sports field, gymnasiums and public office buildings must be equipped with facilities to make use of rain reservoirs.
In addition, local governments must go further to recycle water resources. Suwon City provides a good example, by offering tax and other benefits to owners of building more than 3,000 square meters in size that are equipped with rain-recycling facilities.
More attention should be paid to fixing leaks. Pipe leakage was partly the reason for the shortage of water at Taebaek City over the past two months. The government must at the same time accelerate environmentally friendly irrigation projects. At the moment, it is paralyzed because of opposition from environmental organizations. The project to restore the country’s four major rivers is a crucial step toward preparing for a drier climate.
Development and international cooperation to lower the cost of water purification also remains an important challenge.
Managing water supplies has been the bedrock of national governance since the first towns and cities began to sprout.
Now we’re in urgent need of wisdom to prevent our land drying up.