Republic of Korea
Regulatory framework for drinking water, wastewater discharge and reuse
Many different organisations are responsible for the management of water resources in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). Factors such as whether the water supply is regional or local, and the water’s end use (drinking water, agriculture, etc.) determine which organisation is managerially responsible. Each organisation independently manages its own territory, with no interaction between organisations for inter-management of water quality and quantity.
Drinking water quality regulations
The Regulations on Drinking Water Quality Standards and Tests were originally passed in 1963 (Ordinance of the Ministry of Health No.106), based on the framework set by Act No.939 of 1961 (see figure above). The standards have been updated several times, the last being in 2009 with MOE Ordinance No.347.
Municipal and industrial wastewater quality regulations
The standards for wastewater disposal are established and implemented by the MOE. Notable requirements include effluent standards for public and private WWTPs (MOE Ordinance No.399) and discharge standards for polluting parameters such as BOD5, COD, total suspended solids and phenolic compounds (MOE Ordinance No.397).
Water reuse regulations
For the last couple of decades the government has shown interest in water reuse. MOE supervised some R&D projects such as the ‘Project for the Development of Platform Technologies to Reuse Treated Wastewater’ (1992-1995) and the ‘Project for the Development of Technologies to Reuse Water used in Production Processes’ (1995-1998), as part of “G7 Projects”. These aimed to develop MBR processes to dispose of or reuse wastewater and polluted water.
Water in industry
Industry contributes to 39.4% of the country’s GDP, after services (57.6%). As can be seen in the following table, the volume of wastewater generated by the industrial sector in South Korea reduced dramatically between 2004 and 2008 (despite the increase in the number of industrial facilities), while the volume of wastewater treated before discharge increased. The development of wastewater treatment technology and an effort to reduce the total quantity of wastewater has resulted in a high percentage of wastewater generated by industry now being treated before discharge.
Future regulatory scenario and conclusions
The focus of water resource management in South Korea has been expanded from irrigation to include flood control and conservation.
List of laws, standards and policies