NATIONAL

Seoul to replace aged pipes amid ‘reddish tap water’ crisis

By Ock Hyun-ju
  • Published : Jun 26, 2019 - 16:54
  • Updated : Jun 26, 2019 - 17:00

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said Wednesday that the city will bring forward plans to replace aged water pipes by securing extra funds, amid growing concerns over contaminated tap water reported in Seoul, Incheon and other cities. 
Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon announces measures to normalize the tap water quality in Mulle-dong, southwestern Seoul, at a news briefing at Seoul City Hall, Tuesday. (Yonhap)


The Seoul Metropolitan Government said it would begin replacing 138 kilometers of the old pipes within the year, earlier than as scheduled in 2020. For the 1.75-kilometer pipe that contaminated tap water in Mulle-dong, the replacement will be completed by the end of this year.

The contaminated water coming from taps was first reported at an elementary school in Mulle-dong on June 19. Additional reports were filed the next day from apartment complexes in the neighborhood on June 20.

“We will promptly complete replacing aged water pipes 100 percent and push for related measures according to a plan,” Park told reporters in a news briefing in Seoul City Hall.

The city government secured an additional 72.7 billion won ($62.8 million) for the construction. It is expected to cost 178.9 billion won in total to replace the 138 kilometers of pipe. The 138-kilometer section is the remainder of 13,396 kilometers of old pipes in Seoul that have been replaced since 1984.

The municipality views sediment from aged water pipes as the cause of the murky water.

The public-private inspection team -- comprising 10 officials, experts and scholars -- is conducting a detailed analysis to find out the root cause by underdoing endoscope procedures on a 1.75-kilometer section of pipe.

The inspection team plans to carry out an all-out inspection on some 100 areas where aged pipes meet – and where sediment is likely to accumulate – to prevent a recurrence of the reddish water problem.

On Friday, the municipality advised some 1,042 households and the elementary school in Mulle-dong in southwestern Seoul not to drink tap water. The advisory was still in place as of Wednesday afternoon.

Municipality officials drained and cleaned the water tank in the apartment complexes, and removed murky water from the pipes. The water quality has been restored to an ordinary level, but is not yet to a drinkable level, according to the city government.

The city government is providing bottles of Arisu – Seoul city’s official tap water brand – to residents in the affected neighborhood. It plans to provide financial support to residents for them to change their tap filters and cut water bills.

The municipality has water quality detectors in 208 locations to monitor tap water quality around-the-clock. It will add six more in Mulle-dong early next month.

The reddish water problem was first detected in Incheon on May 30, affecting some 10,000 households and 150 schools in the area. Seoul and other cities, including Ansan and Gwangju in Gyeonggi Province, also saw reports of murky water.

(laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)



caption: Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon announces measures to normalize the tap water quality in Mulle-dong, southwestern Seoul, at a news briefing at Seoul City Hall, Tuesday. Yonhap