Published : 2013-10-21 19:48
Updated : 2013-10-21 19:48
Lawmakers on Monday raised concerns about worsening water quality and environmental damage at the nation’s four major rivers after a massive project of dredging, damming and straightening up the waterways under the former Lee Myung-bak administration.
At the National Assembly’s Environment and Labor Committee’s parliamentary audit, the main opposition Democratic Party members blamed the 22.2 trillion won river project for the ecological deterioration at the Hangang, Nakdonggang, Youngsangang and Geumgang rivers.
“After the river development, 28 legally protected animal species disappeared in the four major rivers,” Jang Ha-na of the party said, citing a report from the Ministry of Environment.
The report found that endangered species and natural monuments such as the stork, golden eagle, sea eagle spoonbill and Swinhoe’s Egret have disappeared after the massive restoration project.
The ruling Saenuri Party also pointed out increasing water pollution while indicating that it has more to do with the nation’s overall river management.
“Only 8 people are currently in charge of water management in the middle and upper streams of the Nakdonggang River, which serves as a source of drinking water (to residents in nearby regions),” Choi Bong-hong from the party said.
Rep. Yi Wan-young from the ruling party added that the country spent a total of 9.3 trillion won from 1999 to 2012 for water improvement in the Nakdonggang River, but the water quality remains low, only suitable for industrial use.
The ministry’s data provided by Yi says the chemical oxygen demand in the middle and lower parts of the river remains below 7 milligrams per liter, which is similar to industrial water.
The same issue was already under spotlight last week when Board of Audit and Inspection Secretary General Kim Young-ho said former President Lee Myung-bak has “a share of responsibility for problems associated with the four-river project.”
The refurbishment project in the four rivers was the former Lee administration’s signature project.
The development plan has been involved in a number of serious problems such as bid rigging, increased costs, and most recently, a serious level of algal blooms that threaten people’s health and the ecosystem.