Keeping Up Paldang Lake Vital for Metropolitan Water Supply

Article excerpt

Taking in the waters of the South and North Han Rivers, the reservoir in this junction area is the biggest source of tap water for metropolitan residents.

The reservoir is not only the source of water supply for the mega city of Seoul, but also for several portal cities in suburban and Kyonggi-do provincial areas as far south as Pyongtaek and as far north as Uijongbu.

``There are 20 million people at the other end of this water supply,'' stressed the chief of the Korea Water Resources Corporation's Paldang reservoir operations.

The pipes from the six water supply systems of varied diameters, the largest one being 2.8 meters wide, extend farther than 100 kilometers. Of course, that is much longer than the subway lines reaching such cities as Ansan and Inchon.

Despite the controversy over the water quality of the reservoir, people rely on the water, whether they drink it or use it just for cooking or washing. In offices and homes in urban towns, they admit, many drink bottled water.

Here, at the KOWACO plant, the quantity of supply is of foremost concern.``The quantity of the water from upstream has not changed in years,'' said the chief of the water supply plant. He added that quality improvement does matter too, although, bureaucratically, it is the job of the Environment Ministry.

Recently, the Paldang operation officials have launched an unprecedented task of assuring the consumers, for example, in Uijongbu, of the water's quality. They told the residents in the apartment neighborhoods about the source of the water, and provided a service for verification.

They also compared the quality of the tap water and home water purifiers. They found that the quality of the filtered water was worse than that of the unpurified tap water.

Officials believe the quality of the water from the government-invested KOWACO service is still ``ilgup-su'' or first class water, as far as the water in the supply pipes to the pumping stations is concerned. But when it comes to the home, many of the small-sized pipes in the final networks are old and rusty.

The well-known fact but often-overlooked truth is that ``The quality of the water is not different from the quantity,'' because bad water is useless.

Experts said the quality is also related to the manner of fresh water consumption in Korea, where any systems for the reuse of gray (waste) water are not established and regulated at home.

According to statistics, among people from OECD countries, Koreans consume the largest amount of water, 395 liters per person a day in terms of supply. It is comparable to the figures of others: 383 liters in Italy, 357 in Japan, 323 in Britain and 281 in France. …