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Australian water experts look to take page from Korea

A group of young Australian experts in water resources management said they could take a page from Korea’s book to tackle water crises in their country during a visit to Seoul on Sunday.

Ten public officials, academics and private experts from Australia are participating in the Next Generation Leaders program hosted by the Australia-Korea Foundation. The two countries set a theme and exchange a team of young professionals over two years to help them develop leadership in the field.

This year, the foundation set its sights on water.

“Water security is a matter of common interest to both countries,” said June Kim, a coordinator of the program.

As part of the first leg of the 10-day trip, the delegation praised the restoration of Cheonggyecheon, a stream flowing through downtown Seoul. The city government wrapped up the 390 billion won ($345 million) program in 2005.

“It was inspirational to know the method used in the project and the way the seemingly difficult and expensive project got people and politicians behind it,” said Martin Conner, coordinator of water efficiency program at Hunter Water Corp., an Australian water services provider.

Australia has been suffering water shortages as a decade of drought devastated landscapes, agriculture and the livelihoods of farmers.

Fueling the crisis is a mining boom in the island country, stoking jitters over water quality and spiraling demand on the quantity front at the same time.

“It’s a very intertwined issue because mining needs water. It has been a key issue in Australia because of the boom in mining,” said Robert O’Neill, director of water policy and planning at the office of water for the state of New South Wales.

To tackle challenges, the government is striving to interpret related social, environmental and economic issues, while fostering water reforms, O’Neill added.

By Shin Hyon-hee (
catch table
Korea Herald daum