Monday, November 09, 2009

Guess its time to learn what the four river project actually is.

This seems like a difficult project for a westerner, particularly a Canadian, to accurately judge the value of. My country is thinly populated and we have a surplus of water. Korea, on the other hand, is densely populated and inland Gangwondo has suffered severe water shortages in recent times. I do want to protect ecosystems, but people are part of the ecosystem and we naturally have to count ourselves as at least as important as the other parts. Further, Korean rivers don't run steadily through the year. When water flows increase, they can increase dramatically and cause flood damage.

From the Times:

Korea's 22 trillion-won civil engineering project, aimed at restoring the basin areas of four major rivers, has passed an environmental impact assessment test, giving momentum to a project critics argue will devastate the country's ecosystem.

From the Joongang:

The controversial four-river restoration project will begin tomorrow following an announcement that the government-led evaluation of the environmental impact of the project was completed last Friday, according to the Land Ministry yesterday.

The report concludes that the quality of the water in the rivers will have improved on [I think they mean 'improved to 2006"] 2006 levels after the project has been completed in 2011, the ministry said.

From the Donga:

President Lee Myung-bak’s project to restore the country’s four major rivers will finally begin this week with the construction of 15 dams to start Tuesday.

The venture has long faced resistance from opposition parties but is set to proceed this week. With the completion of the government assessment of the project, operations are expected to be accelerated.

In his 2007 presidential campaign, President Lee had pledged to build a cross-country canal in Korea, but strong resistance from the opposition and a faction in the ruling Grand National Party prompted him to give up the project to prevent dividing public opinion. He then suggested the restoration of the country’s four major rivers.

The Donga article seems to best summarize why the project is controversial. Building fifteen dams seems a strange way to help river ecosystems recover, and the apparent connection in the final quoted paragraph is what seems most ominous. No canal? Okay, let's call it river restoration.

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