Long-term water policy neededThe drought in Korea has become serious. Last week’s rainfall failed to drench the severely parched central region, which is suffering the longest and worst dry spell in 42 years. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport decided to moderate water supply in eight cities and districts in South Chungcheong starting this week. The reserve ratio at Boryeong Dam that supplies water to these areas has plunged to 23 percent, about a third of the normal level. Summer rainfall has fallen short for the second consecutive year.
Drought is a natural disaster. As immediate measures, we must conserve available water resources. But there must be a longer-run action plan for climate change. Environment and climate authorities warned in a March report that droughts are more frequent and severe on the Korean Peninsula due to climate changes.
As for challenges on the weather front, the country must come up with stronger measures to address rain and water shortages. It must use whatever scientific and reasonable ways possible to secure stable water supplies. The government must first find out ways to funnel water supplies from the six barrages newly created by the four-river project to the drought-stricken regions. It also should consider raising the dam walls that the previous government assessed as having an effect in increasing reservoirs.
The authorities must become more precise in predicting rainfall in order to scientifically control dam reservoirs. They also should consider investing in rainmaking technology to artificially induce precipitation, which is already in practice in the United States and China. In the longer-run, they must look into building multipurpose large dams.
For now, the government should try to increase small dams and reservoirs that won’t disturb the environment and residential communities. We must always keep in mind that we are living in a water-short territory where annual precipitation per person is just 2,629 cubic meters compared with the world average of 16,427 cubic meters.
JoongAng Ilbo, Oct. 5, Page 34
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