The Korea Herald


Over 35% of Koreans drink tap water: survey

Ministry of Environment aims to repair 3,332 km of water pipes by 2024

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : Oct. 27, 2021 - 14:21

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More than 3 in 10 Koreans drink tap water or boil it before drinking, a survey showed Wednesday.

According to the Environment Ministry’s survey on people’s tap water consumption, 36 percent of the respondents said they drink water straight from the tap or boil it before drinking.

The Environment Ministry conducted the first tap water drinking habit survey from April to June under the revised Water Supply and Waterworks Installation Act, which was amended in October last year. The survey polled 72,460 households in 161 cities and counties across the country.

Some 49.5 percent said they use water purifiers to filter tap water while 32.9 percent said they buy bottled water. Respondents could choose more than one answer for the question on how they drink water at home.

In regard to cooking at home, 67 percent said they use tap water whereas 33.7 percent said they use water that has been filtered through a purifier.

Of the respondents who said they drink water straight from the tap, 69.5 percent said they were satisfied with it.

For the question on what respondents think of drinking tap water or boiling it before drinking, the three most picked answers were that it is convenient, economical and the water quality is trustworthy.

Among the improvements that could be made to increase satisfaction levels, replacing old water pipes, thoroughly checking the quality of water supply sources and modernization of water purification plants were the most preferred answers.

The Environment Ministry said it will continue to carry out the repair project of old water pipes and draft new projects and support measures to provide clean and safe tap water. The repair project began in 2017 to conduct maintenance for 3,332 kilometers of water pipes spread across the country through 2024.

The ministry also plans to install a smart water pipe control system for the 161 cities and counties before the end of 2022. It allows each local government to monitor their tap water quality in real time and automatically filters out harmful substances.

In the city of Paju, Gyeonggi Province, where the smart water pipe control system was installed as a pilot project for three years from 2014, 49.5 percent of the respondents -- 13.5 percentage points higher than the overall nationwide rate -- said they drink tap water or boil it before drinking.

The ministry said it will actively push for policies that are in line with the government’s drive for carbon neutrality, citing data which showed bottled water and water purifiers each produce 700 times and over 1,500 times the amount of carbon dioxide compared to tap water.

The survey results will be available on the website of the Environment Ministry from Thursday.