Nakdong River swept with green algae tides

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Nakdong River swept with green algae tides


A mass of green algae has formed along the Nakdong River at a faster pace than usual, prompting an algae advisory yesterday.

The ministry said yesterday it has detected mycrocystis aeruginosa, a single-celled blue-green alga potentially harmful to human lungs, in the affected parts of the Nakdong River.

The river, which stretches along the southern part of the country, supplies water to people living in major southern cites like Daegu and Busan.

Aside from being a nuisance and a danger to fish and wildlife, microcystis aeruginosa may be ingested inadvertently during recreational water use, according to the Daegu branch of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement.

As alarming as it sounds, though, officials from the Daegu Metropolitan Government said there is no real risk to the drinking water supply, and this year’s rapid expansion of the algal blooms is being triggered by the prolonged heat and lack of rain.

“We are conducting water-quality surveys every day so that drinking water is provided in a safe way,” Kim Bu-seob, an official from the environment division of the Daegu city government, was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency. Kim added that it will reinforce a thorough filtration process to remove all toxins from the drinking water supply.

Some people are not so sanguine.

Jang Ha-na, a member of the Democratic Party, submitted a research document to the Environment Ministry about this year’s algae infestation.

In the study, she said the green tide is hitting the Nakdong River faster than last year and will affect major reservoirs like Dalseong, Changnyeong and Haman, which are all located in or near South Gyeongsang.

The Daegu chapter of the Korean Federation for Environmental Movement blamed the building of a massive water refurbishment project for the phenomenon.

“The weirs across the river have turned greater parts of the rivers into standing water, which attracts algal blooms,” the organization said.

Last year, green tides took a toll on Seoul’s Han River, leading the Seoul Metropolitan Government to survey five drinking water intake stations.

While some parts of the country are fighting green tides, other regions are struggling with red algal blooms that have killed more than 11 million fish and caused over 6.05 billion won ($5.45 million) in losses.

The area most affected by the so-called red tides is Tongyeong in South Gyeongsang, where the city government hopes to be designated a disaster area. It submitted the necessary documents to the South Gyeongsang Provincial Government on Wednesday.

Some 80 percent to 90 percent of fish farms in the area have been hurt by the red tides sweeping across the southern coast.

If recognized as a disaster area, a city can request 50 percent to 80 percent of the money needed to restore its damaged areas from the central government.

This year’s red tide is expected to be more severe than last year’s, which was blamed on sweltering heat, although the exact cause was never conclusively determined.

The possibility that a massive influx of water filled with nutrients from China’s Yangtze River was responsible for the red tide was also raised.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries allocated 1.7 billion won yesterday to be used for recovery of the areas affected by the red tides. One billion won will be set aside for cities and counties in South Gyeongsang, where most of the damage was found.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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