Korea’s River Engineering Works to be Shown at World Congress
Controversial project to inspire questions, discussions at World Water Congress
South Korea’s controversial Four Major Rivers Restoration project will be in the spotlight next month when the country hosts the International Water Assn.’s (IWA) World Water Congress and Exhibition in Pusan.
At the end of 2011, the $19 billion project, involving South Korea’s four largest rivers—the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan—was officially declared complete after just two years.
But national debate continues about whether the project constitutes “green development,” with some claiming the engineering works has led to nationwide environmental degradation.
“It will be a fabulous opportunity to learn from Korea’s approach to managing future water supplies,” says IWA Executive Director Paul Reiter.
“There will be people who are experts on the Four Rivers project and there will be people doing integrated water management at the city level. They will be in a good position to talk about both the Four Rivers project and water supplies beyond the Four Rivers project.”
The Four Rivers project, led by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, is multipurpose—it intends to protect the nation from ravaging floods and droughts, secure abundant water resources to avoid water shortages, and improve water quality and ecosystems.
Restoration work included building more than 16 new dams and raising 87 existing irrigation dams. It strengthened 377 km of riverbank and dredged 570 million cu m of sand and gravel from almost 700 km of riverbed to keep the water at least four to six metres deep.
“Increasing global warming means there are more frequent and more violent storms, and the water from those storms can be extremely destructive, “ says Reiter. “Measures have to be taken to avoid the worst impacts of these events.”
“We are going to need to continually search for new solutions, including of the nature of the Four Rivers project, to cope with this,” he says.
A technical tour to Haman Weir, which is a part of the Four Major Rivers Restoration project, is planned for the IWA’s World Water Congress and Exhibition on Sept. 21, 2012.
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