Advancement of Water Quality Standards

Human Health Criteria

Currently, the country's environmental standards of water quality and aquatic ecosystems are determined for rivers, lakes, and underground water. The human health criteria (20 parameters) are applied to both rivers and lakes, while the residential environment criteria is differently set for rivers (9 parameters), and lakes (10 parameters). The residential environment criteria is composed of 7 grades in water quality which consider not only pollutant’s concentrations but also the impacts on the living organisms in aquatic ecosystems.

Whether a river or lake meets the target standard is determined by the presence of any pollutant whose annual arithmetic average concentration exceeds the human health criteria. From 2007 when the target standards in human health were established, the water quality of 114 mid-watershed regions and 49 major lakes has met the target.

Three parameters have been added to human health criteria (total 20 parameters). To expand the number of parameters up to 30 by 2015, a phased monitoring is carried out for the compounds with the highest risk potential. And to help citizens' understanding of water quality, an easy-to-see, scientific, and comprehensive classification on water quality and aquatic ecosystem has been introduced since 2007. The new classification composed of 7 grades from Very Good to Very Poor provides the narrative description on the characteristics and use of water body.

Adopting Total Organic Carbon (TOC) as Water Quality Criterion

Total Organic Carbon (TOC) is going to be established in water quality criteria. TOC is expected to manage the considerable part of non-biodegradable organic compounds which cannot be measured by the current criterion, BOD. It will result in the significant change on various standards of wastewater discharging facilities and WWTPs’ effluents. 「Enforcement Decree of the Framework Act on Environmental Policy」 was amended to include TOC to the current parameters, BOD, COD, TP and pH. The new amendment goes into effect from 2013. River water quality of “Very Good” must not only meet BOD (blow 1 mg/ℓ) and COD (2 mg/ℓ) criteria but also satisfy TOC criterion (2 mg/ℓ)

Advancing Industrial Wastewater Management System

Improving ‘Wastewater Discharging Facilities Permit System’

For effective management, the wastewater discharging facilities are classified into authorization-required or registration-required ones based on the location of pollution sources or the properties of the discharged pollutants. And for the areas, where special water quality management is necessary, the installation of wastewater discharging facility is restricted. Provided that the facility treats or reuses all wastewater within its bound and discharge no wastewater into public water, such “zero-discharge” facilities can be authorized to locate at the areas of special water quality management on condition that the procedures and requirements of construction and operation are to be strictly stipulated. 

The Ministry of Environment introduced Tele-Monitoring System (TMS) in stages at WWTPs and wastewater discharging facilities (type 1 & 2), which can monitor pH, organics (BOD or COD), TN, TP and suspended solids (SS). The TMS is expected to monitor the effluent water quality in real-time, to charge the discharge levy reasonably, and to secure the credibility of administration. WWTPs and wastewater discharging facilities beyond a certain capacity are required with a TMS instrument which can measure the discharged pollutants’ concentration all-time (in accordance with Water Quality and Ecosystem Conservation Act, amended on May 17, 2007).

TMS has been installed for 4.3% of the total facilities and is monitoring the 95% of total wastewater quantity. The system monitors the wastewater discharged from public WWTPs up to 98% in real-time, while up to 73% of wastewater discharged from private sector is monitored. Because TMS enables the real-time monitoring of the major sources in wastewater, water quality has been significantly improved. For example, the pollution load was reduced by average 33% as compared to 2008 when TMS had yet to be installed. As of December 2012, TMS is installed at 688 operations, while there are 225 wastewater discharging operations, 371 public sewage treatment facilities, and 92 final wastewater treatment facilities. Since the deadline for installing TMS at small-sized public sewage treatment facilities (700 tons or larger and below 2,000 tons) is set to January 16, 2014, the coverage of TMS is expected to increase, thereby further improving water quality.

Advancing Animal Manure Management

It is necessary to advance the animal manure management system in order to deal with the tougher circumstances such as Korea-US Free Trade Agreement, Ocean Dumping Ban Act, etc. A Comprehensive Measure for Advancing Livestock Waste Management was prepared in May 2012, which strengthens the restriction of livestock husbandry, enhances the animal manure discharging facilities at the level of industrial wastewater discharging facilities, and manages the entire life cycle of animal manure from generation to the final disposal. To alleviate stock farmers' burden and to enhance their competitiveness, various measures were prepared as follows. By 2012, 98 public animal manure treatment facilities were constructed and it is expected that those public treatment facilities can treat 50% of the animal manure until 2020. The operation of the facilities is being optimized by process and operation improvements. Also, to manage animal manure in a resource-recycling manner, the government concentrates on the recycling of animal manure and the active distribution of manufactured fertilizers as demonstrated in locally-based integrated management centers.

Nonpoint Source Control

The 2nd Comprehensive NPS Control Measure (2012-2020) established in May 2012 shifted the policy directions as follows – from pollutant’s concentration reduction to runoff volume reduction and from a post-treatment to preventive management. In the light of these changes, various policies are implemented to reduce the runoff volume and minimize NPS pollution by means of improved water circulation system.

LID Method

Low Impact Development (LID) is a method of improving water circulation and reducing pollutions simultaneously. The reduced impervious areas can  increase infiltration of storm water, hence decreasing the surface runoff. LID is applied to preventive the measures of NPS in urban areas. To promote LID, the preparation of LID guidelines and revision of relevant directions are in progress. The administrative support will be also carried out including giving incentives on LID application.

Green Storm water Infrastructure

Compared with centralized storm water management that collects and treats rainwater discharge at the end of a basin, Green Storm Water Infrastructure (GSI) is made of scattered small-scale rainwater harvesting, infiltration, and reuse practices. By implementing the small-scale functional scenic elements such as rain gardens and green roofs close to NPS, it is possible to suppress surface runoff, enhance infiltration, and filtrate or treat NPS in storm water. Moreover, it can contribute to restore water circulation system including recharging ground water and preventing river dry. As detailed plan, the Ministry of Environment is promoting “GSI-Applied Water Circulation City Demonstration Project (2012-2015)” and preparing “GSI Construction Project at Urban Center (from 2014).”

Performance Verification System

There is lack of the administrative procedures to verify the efficiency, capacity and structural safety of BMP (best management practice) facilities. At present, most of BMP facilities are installed underground and it is difficult to verify the efficacy after construction. Therefore, the verification procedure needs to be prepared for each type of commercial BMP products. As the introduction of such a verification system is under consideration, it can help to improve the monolithic design standard and the uncertainties in the application and efficiency of BMPs. With a view to the introduction of verification system, the responsible organization is to be selected. And its role, budget, verification method and the utilization of the verified results will be prepared.

Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystem

Ecological Restoration of Rivers and Estuaries

Current projects of restoring the dry and covered-up rivers in urban areas will be expanded to other rivers. After the completion of the demonstration project such as Sangok-cheon ('stream')  of Hanam (promoted by of the Ministry of Environment), the results will serve as the models for aquatic ecosystem restoration. Also, survey and mapping of ecological status, technology development for habitat restoration and flagship species restoration project will be actively promoted. Besides, the efforts will be put together to promote the participation of citizens. For example, the partnership building among business, NGOs, and citizens on river conservation and restoration will be promoted and the programs of experiencing ecological rivers will be provided to citizens and students.

Restoring Ditches and Rills

Starting in 2007, the surveys have been conducted of ditches and rills mainly at drinking water source protection areas and critical water quality deterioration areas. 697 spots have so far been investigated for general status like location and water intake, pollution type, and water quality, while 35 of them have been  restored as a demonstration project. To set about the restoration of ditches and rills in earnest, 25 leading projects are launched. They are total solution programs which include removal of contaminated sediment and animal manures, reformation of waste collection system, plantation of water-purifying plants, environmental education, village cleanup and dismantling of artificial rivers. Ditches and rills in each jurisdiction is being surveyed and the results are managed by using GIS to build basic database.

Aquatic Ecosystem Health Survey

In aquatic ecosystem health survey, attached algae, fish, benthic macro-invertebrates, inhabitation and waterside environment, and organism habitat are monitored. The ecological health is classified into four grades (Optimum, Fair, Average, and Poor) by using quantified indicators. In 2007, the survey and assessment of aquatic ecosystem was carried out at 540 sites. The number of surveyed sites gradually increased to 640 in 2008, 720 in 2009, 800 in 2010, and 880 in 2011. In 2012, 960 sites were surveyed and assessed.

Water Quality and Aquatic Ecosystems Management at Four Major Rivers

During the Four Major Restoration Project, the Four Rivers Environment Research Centers of National Institute of Environmental Research (NIER) have monitored the aquatic ecosystems at the 16 segments where weirs are constructed (‘Aquatic Ecosystem Impact Assessment Project of Pre-/Post Weir Construction’). The project monitors the changes in the biota including vegetations, benthic fauna, fish, amphibian & reptiles, birds, and mammals at the segments 2km of up and down stream of each weir. During 2010 and 2011, the project figured out the status of the aquatic ecosystem in each segment where a weir was built, while the impact assessment of the aquatic ecosystems is being implemented after the weir construction (from 2012). ‘Ecosystem Monitoring at Four Major River Watersheds’(From 2010) surveys aquatic ecosystems as well as such legally protected species as mammals, migratory birds, and terrestrial plants at principal locations. The monitoring focuses on the changes to biological species in consideration of the connection between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems so that they can be applied to protect biological species in the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project.

Last modified : 2013-10-23 17:42

Survey of visitors' satisfaction
We would like to know how satisfied you are with our website in an attempt to provide more improved service. Please rate how satisfied you are with our website.