Published: Monday 31 January 2000

-- Come 2001 and residents of the Naktong River basin in the southeastern parts of the country will start paying a water-use charge. The government has finalised plans to overhaul the water quality of the river by 2008 through volume-based emissions system. The government hopes that this plan will improve the quality of water used for drinking and industrial purposes by some 8.6 million people.

Acknowledging that density-control of pollution will not work for the river, the government's total volume-based emissions system divides the river into sections to enforce a permissible total volume of pollution emissions per section. For the large metropolitan areas of Taegu, Ulsan and Pusan, the system will go into effect in 2002. For smaller cities and counties, the system will take effect gradually between 2003 and 2004.

The government will introduce a water-use charge, in addition to the existing charge for tap water. The proceeds will be used in part to fund the series of infrastructure investments that the plan envisions for the region like building 266 more sewage treatment plants and flood-control dams and replacing some 4,388 km of old water pipes.

The same kind of comprehensive plan was adopted for the Han River and it raised the water quality of its reservoir. The finalised plan, however, relented somewhat to the different demands made by residents of communities along the river, which stretches for 521.5 km along the southeastern region of the nation. The main bone of contention among residents in Taegu and Pusan was a tentative plan to build an industrial park in Wichon near Taegu. This was virtually scrapped. Residents of Pusan who live in the lower-stream community charged that they were drinking water polluted by residents of Taegu, who make up the mid-stream community of the river. Residents outside Taegu said that the construction of the Wichon Industrial Park would not live up to the policy of improving water quality, while residents of Taegu opine in favor of the industrial park to boost their sagging economy.

The government said that it will set up a separate ad hoc committee to settle the issue. The finalised plan also relented on the construction of five to six small-sized dams for flood control.

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