With the prospect of impending water shortages hot on South Korea’s heels, Seoul is reaching into its pocketbook for better water infrastructure. The nation announced a $18 billion revitalization project for its four major rivers on Monday. The goal: to improve the use of water resources and create jobs for almost 200,000 people in the country, AFP reported Tuesday.
The redevelopment and construction project, which was unveiled by the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, is expected to start by the end of this year and last until 2012. The initiative is part of the government’s $38.1 billion “Green New Deal” plan to boost the economy and relieve unemployment through social policy and environmental projects.
But the plan is also a matter of urgency, as climate change threatens a water shortage of about one billion cubic meters a year by 2016, the Ministry said. For this purpose, the government plans to build dams, reservoirs and catchment basins that can store up to 1.3 billion cubic meters of fresh water.
In addition, it will dredge rivers, build floodgates and strengthen river banks to reduce flooding, which drains about $6.4 billion a year from state finances.
According to the project supervisor Shim Myung-Pil, additional measures such as water treatment plants, recreation facilities, and cultural and sightseeing infrastructure would also enhance the quality of life in South Korea, which is Asia’s fourth largest economy.
Though President Lee Myung-Bak described the project as an “important milestone” in solving water quality and quantity problems in the country, environmentalists and economists questioned its “green” and economic value and demanded an unbiased assessment before it starts.
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Source: Yahoo News
, a Bulgaria native, is a Chicago-based reporter for Circle of Blue. She co-writes The Stream, a daily digest of international water news trends.
Interests: Europe, China, Environmental Policy, International Security.