Sub-Theme 1 | History of Waterworks Development in Korea
Waterworks in Korea started when a patent for waterworks construction and management was granted to the Americans C.H. Collbran and H.R. Bostwick in 1903, which was then transferred to Korea Waterworks Co., a company set up by an Englishman in 1905. Following this, the construction of a slow sand filter bed for Ttukdo Water Purification Plant was completed in August, 1908. Water supply for 15,000 people in Seoul started on September 1, 1908 with water production of 12,500 tons/day, opening the era of modern water supply.
Under the Japanese colonial period before independence in 1945, waterworks management rights were transferred to the Japanese Government-General of Korea in 1911, and the government-run waterworks regulations (Japanese Government-General of Korea Ordinance No. 18) was proclaimed.
In 1945, the population with access to water supply in 83 cities reached 2 million, with a daily maximum water supply of 270,200 tons and a daily water supply per person of 13 liters, and a majority of people in Korea used water from wells, valleys and streams as drinking water.Due to overseas Koreans returning home following Korea’s independence from Japan and the increasing concentration of the population in urban areas, the waterworks were insufficient and there were water shortages, and serious problems took place in relation to securing technical personnel in the waterworks industry for the work of technology management and maintenance, as the field had previously been monopolized by Japanese providers.During the Korean War, the country suffered unprecedented damage to its waterworks, with 30 - 90 % of water purification plants, 5 - 10 % of water pipes and 60 - 80 % of pumping stations destroyed.
After the Korean War, the waterworks restoration project was launched with the help of foreign loansand the issuing of bonds by local governments due to the country’s weak financial position. All waterworks destroyed during the Korean War were completely restored by 1955, and the volume of the water supply increased to 600 thousand tons/day in 1961.
Under the Five-year Economic Development Plan in 1962, the planned investments implemented in water supply facilities. At this point, the countries providing aid were diversified from the United States alone to include Japan, Germany, and other countries, and Korea also received support for the development of its waterworks from the IBRD (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development), the IDA (International Development Association) and the ADB (Asian Development Bank) in a variety of forms, including free technical cooperation and loans.
During the Third Economic Development period(1972-1976), the waterworks project was converted into a self-support system when seven major Korean cities, including Seoul, Busan, Incheon, Daegu, Daejeon, Gwangju and Cheongju, launched water supply facility improvements with loans from the central government, and local governments' waterworks projects were also activated with these loans.
The Multi-regional Water Supply Project that began in the late 1970s consists of 6 stages and is the biggest project that Korea promoted to develop a stable and smooth residential and industrial water supply to 24 local communities in the metropolitan area, including Seoul, from the raw water at Paldang Dam. The project was led by the Ministry of Construction due to the lack of funds on the part of local governments at that time. The first-stage project from 1973 to 1979 for the metropolitan area had a total of 44.1 billion won invested with 1.2 million tons of water supply. The second-stage project was launched in 1977 and started to supply water in 1982 with 1.40 million tons/day, in which a total of 40.2 billion won was invested. It was followed by the third stage(from 1984 to 1989), the fourth stage (from December 1989 to April 1994), the fifth-stage (from August 1995 to April 1999) and the sixth stage (from November 1999 to December 2004), and the water supply facilities constructed under the project are currently operated and managed by the K-Water, supplying an average of 3.60 million tons of water per day to around 10.0 million people in 24 communities in the metropolitan area. To meet water demands from local small and medium-sized cities, a waterworks expansion project was promoted for 18 cities selected under the Fifth Five-year Economic Development Plan (1982 - 1986), and $25,949,594.00 of the estimated cost was borrowed from ADB at an interest rate of 10.5 % on the condition of twenty-year (1987 - 2007) level payment with four-year grace period.
When the water supply facility modernization project was promoted in the 1980s, the Seoul Municipal Government acquired loans from OECF (KO-22) in 1983 and OECF (KO-30) in 1984, and the loans were used to fund the basic plan and design for water supply modernization and the purchase of leakage repair equipment.
Local government bonds together with the introduction of loans played an important role in financing waterworks. For example, the Seoul Municipal Government enacted and proclaimed the 'First Postwar Restoration Public Bond Act for Water Seoul Metropolitan City Waterworks Expense Special Account' in May 1953, the 'First and second Waterworks Expansion Project Local Government Bond Act in 1970 and 1971, respectively, and the 'Waterworks Public Bond Act in 1978 as a means of financing all constructions for a smooth supply of tap water. In this way, issues of local government bonds played an important role in financing waterworks during the period from 1960 to 1970, but this type of funding slowed after 1993, and was reduced to 73.6 billion won by 2005. After 1990, the need to depend on local government bonds was lowered through rational financial operation, efficient administration and budgeting based on long-term project plans.
The construction of water supply facilities funded by loans and local government bonds issued until the late 1980s to solve the problem of a lack of funds after the Korean War promoted technology transfer from foreign designers who participated in those construction projects to designers in the country, which paved the way to improving the design technology of Korean engineers. By 1990, these efforts had resulted in an increase of the water supply rate to 78.4%. Following this, a policy to expand the distribution of the water supply continued to be promoted, and the supply rate reached 98.9% by 2016. Currently, the government's policy on water supply places a greater emphasis on improving water quality and providing a customer-centered service than on quantitative expansion.
[Table 1. Phases of Development of Korea's Water Supply System]
||- Recovering from the ravages of war and acquiring water supply system techniques
||- Quantitatively expanding water supply facilities to resolve water shortage issues
- Shift in water supply policy from quantitative expansion to qualitative improvement
- Providing customer-centered water supply service and improving equality of access to the service
||- Restoration through foreign aid (FOC, ICA)
- Water resource development through program for land development
- Development of multi-regional water supply system
- Complete revision of Waterworks Law and tightening of water quality standards
- Established water treatment criteria and implementing comprehensive water quality management measures
- Expanded water supply service to under-served rural areas
||- Localizing technologies for water supply system by acquiring foreign capital and skills
- Designated investment in water supply facilities according to the Five-Year Economic Development Plan
- Secured large-scale water supply facilities by building multi-regional water supply system
- Acquired advanced technologies through water supply construction collaboration with foreign designers based on loans
- Introduced a program to improve river water quality, such as a Special Act on the four major rivers for river water quality improvement and limiting total emission volume of water pollutants
- Introduced advanced water treatment system
||- Ministry of Home Affairs
||- Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Construction, Environmental Office
||- Ministry of Environment
||- The rate of increase of the water supply service was far less than the rapid rate of urban population growth
- Water supply facilities were constructed mainly in the big cities and industrial areas
- Insufficient water supply system in rural areas
|- Distrust of tap water continues due to water quality problems, and rate of direct tap water consumption decreased
- Capacity of water supply facilities increased from 240,000㎥/d in 1947 to 600,000㎥/d in 1961 through restoration and expansion of facilities
- Ttukdo water supply plant designed and constructed with Korean technology
- Rapid increase in water supply ratio, from 17.1% in 1961 to 78.4% in 1990
- Modern design technology of water treatment plant established
- Water supply ratio improved to the level of advanced countries, from 78.4% in 1990 to 94.1% in 2010
- Rate of water usage in rural communities improved, from 27.9% in 2000 to 56.1% in 2010