Development of a National Branding Project for Drinking Mineral Water

Drinking (natural) mineral  water market is steadily expanding with growing demand, rising income levels, and increasing outdoor activities. For the last five years, the average growth registered approximately 10%, while the total value of the domestic drinking mineral water market was KRW 375 billion(as of 2011).

Domestic Sales of Potable Mineral Water

Source: Ministry of Environment Collection of Policy Outcomes (2012)


While Korea's export of drinking mineral water continues to surpass imported amount, a trade imbalance is incurred as domestic drinking mineral water is exported at relatively low prices whereas foreign drinking mineral water is imported at higher prices (as of 2010, export is priced at USD 402.5/ton and import is priced at USD 725.2/ton), which seems to be attributable to the low international recognition and insufficient differentiation of the domestic drinking mineral water. And it has been pointed out that contamination sources such as burial sites and wastes disposal facilities located near where water is taken are likely to pollute the ground water, thus requiring the upgrade of water quality including ground water quality monitoring. Therefore, the validity survey and marketing strategy study have been carried out with regard to the development of a national brand of drinking mineral water. With the development of the name and logo design for national premium brand, a company producing drinking mineral water has been selected for experimental application of the national premium brand. And with the legitimate implementation following the pilot operation and performance evaluation, a basis has been created for promoting the export of drinking mineral water.

Export and Import of Potable Mineral Water

Also, with the amendment of Management of Drinking Water Act, which enabled possible the manufacture and sales of potable saline groundwater, types of drinking water increased, and through the easing of drinking mineral water quality standards, products rich in minerals and alkali products are now entering the market. Moreover, through the creation and operation of the remote monitoring of the amount and quality of mineral water produced by drinking mineral water manufacturers, a real-time management of mineral water is now possible, enabling immediate response to any problems including water contamination. Methods for specialization and advancement of drinking mineral water continue to be implemented, while for this purpose, expansion of criteria for monitoring drinking mineral water quality and upgraded management are being planned. Also, by designating which is of high value to the manufacture of drinking mineral water, and their vicinities, as mineral water conservation areas, excellent domestic water sources will be actively managed

Securing Water Welfare Safety Net in Areas Disadvantaged for Drinking Water

Most of the vulnerable residents in islands, coastal areas, and some of the farming and fishery communities who are not provided with waterworks still get their drinking water from the groundwater in long-used wells without any quality test. Waterworks are supplied to less than 60% of farming areas (myeons or smaller areas), and while groundwater in some of the farming communities register 30% to 40% in the ratio in excess of quality standards for nitrate nitrogen and total coliforms, unregistered use or protracted test period (2 or 3 yrs) keep the drinking water management vulnerable. Since an across-the-board supply of waterworks should be inefficient thus limited for farming communities, a paradigm shift of drinking water supply focused on provision of waterworks is required. To begin with, test kits are to be used in farming communities to perform cost-free potable groundwater quality test, while water welfare disparities shall be dissolved and resident health shall be enhanced by implementing Safe Groundwater Project that comprises Safe Well Designation, installation and distribution of tube wells dedicated to drinking water. Methods to be implemented in 2013 are as follows.

Drinking water and groundwater quality test in disadvantaged areas
-  Groundwater quality test in areas without waterworks, burial sites, and livestock complexes (12,500 places nationwide in 2013)
    ※ Drinking groundwater quality test using test kit (3,000 tests in 2013)
Analysis of methods for supporting drinking water in areas without waterworks (first half of 2013)
-  On-spot survey of drinking water in areas without waterworks and types of support
Establishment of a 5-year plan (2013 - 2017) on securing water welfare safety net in areas disadvantaged for drinking water
Implementation of Safe Drinking Groundwater Project (from 2013)
-  Pilot program of designation safe wells, installation and distribution of tube wells dedicated to drinking water, development of customized water purifier, free of charge instant quick drinking water test, and introduction of voucher for water quality test
- Expansion of support for safe drinking water through the participation of social enterprises

Upgraded Management of Livestock Burial Sites and their Surroundings

Foot-and-mouth disease, first confirmed in Andong, Gyeongbuk in November, 2010, spread to 11 cities and provinces, leading to outbreak in 75 cities, counties, and districts. To eradicate the infection and spread of the foot-and-mouth virus, the disease control authorities carried out a killing and burial of 3.48 million head of pigs, oxen and cows, and 6.47 million head of chickens and ducks, in effect creating 4,799 burial sites nationwide. 

As the killing and burial of livestock were carried out as emergency quarantine operation focused on stopping the spread of the foot-and-mouth virus, it was not easy for local governments to observe the standards related to burial. Moreover, as the massive creation of the burial sites was not predicted, they were not prepared with materials, equipment, manpower needed for the work. Hence, some of the burial sites were built at slopes, sites near rivers, areas with abundant groundwater, and on roads and sites close to residential areas, creating such issues as eventual loss, feared water contamination, and stench. Furthermore, insufficient soil compaction inside burial sites, uninstalled water drains and sumps, and damaged vinyl covers due to burial of live animals brought to the public a great concern over the leachate from burial sites and groundwater contamination.

As the general environmental manager related to the burial sites, the Ministry of Environment pushed for a national-level environmental survey on burial sites to respond to the concern over the leakage of leachate and groundwater contamination. Through the quarterly surveys of 7,679 tube wells near the burial sites in 2011, 25% to 36% of them appeared to be in violation of water quality standards, while the causes of the excess turned out to be livestock excreta and wastewater instead of leachate from the burial sites. Also, as a result of the massive survey of environmental impact in 300 burial sites near rivers (conducted in the first half of 2012), 21 sites were found with risks of leachate leakage, so local governments took measures including relocation and  reinforcement of leachate collection.

In addition, with a view to an adequate response to the concern over leachate leak from burial sites and groundwater contamination, the Ministry of Environment pushed for the following multiple measures.

Implementation of the test of background water supply to the groundwater in livestock compounds, designed to figure out the quality of the background water supply to the groundwater near livestock compounds (on 1,500 tube wells in 50 compounds between January and December, 2012).

Implementation of environmental impact survey on 300 burial sites (until December 31), groundwater quality test on 8,000 tube wells near burial sites (until December 31; half-yearly), and microbial test on 600 tube wells (until December 31; half-yearly).

Implementation of a concerted government inspection of thawing season and rainy season of 2012 (March 26 to March 30 and May 30 to June 8 comprising the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security, the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Environment, and relevant local governments) and voluntary environment patrol. 

In 2013, the third year in foot-and-mouth disease related environmental management (2011-2013), burial sites are gradually stabilizing, yet safety management is necessary on groundwater and drinking water near burial sites. For this, it should be imperative to secure representative data on the groundwater concentration in the background to ensure a pre-selection of candidate burial sites in the case of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease and safe supply of groundwater and drinking water. For this purpose, the Ministry of Environment continues to push forward with measures for the environmental management of the burial sites including implementation of environmental impact survey on the burial sites, comprehensive examination of groundwater monitoring wells, examination of contamination of livestock farms and the concentration in the background, and preparation of measures for ex post facto management of burial sites of over three years. At the same time, while in cooperation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, the Ministry of Environment plans to implement preventive measures for environmental management on burial sites including training of local government employees and pre-selection of candidate burial sites.

Last modified : 2013-10-29 20:50

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