Seoul Campus

1. Seoul's Water Management

Date 2017-09-19 Writer ssunha
  • Water Management
  • PhD. Young-June Choi
  • 2017-09-19

< MODULE 1 >

I’d like to start today's lecture with some old photos of Seoul. This photo was taken in the early 1900’s, maybe around 1908. The building at the background was built in 1908, which was the first modern water treatment plant in Seoul, and yes, defiantly the first one in Korea too. This photo was taken in 1970’s. At that time, not all the citizens could have access to the water service. So some people had to buy water from the person who had water tap in their house, like the ladies in the photo.

Even though 87% of citizens had access to the water service, the city sometimes had to use trucks to deliver water to citizens who lived in highland area, like this. Another photo of highland area. The citizens had to be in a long line to get water. Hundreds of people gathered together to celebrate the installation of water tap at their community.

This photo is the water quality analysis lab in 1970’s. This is local water service offices. This photo is a small fountain located in the Eastern mountainous area of Korean peninsula: it's the origin of the Han River. Han River consists of two Han Rivers, North Han River and South Han River. These two rivers joined at the Paldang dam. This is Paldang Dam, is the closest dam to Seoul. This is one of the sources of water to Seoul. The Han River passes through the middle of the city. The city installed many water fountains for the citizens to promote the high water quality of Seoul's water.

The city made bottled water, as one of the promotion. I’d like to share the 100 years’ history of waterworks system of Seoul with you today.  My name is Young-June Choi, and I’m the director of Bureau of R&D for water of Seoul Water Institute. According to the British Medical Journal, the life expectancy is closely related to waterworks system, drinking water, and wastewater system. The life expectancy of Seoul was 45 when the modern water treatment plant started in 1908. It became over 80 in 2015.

As you can see from the diagram, the life expectancy goes with the capacity increase in the drinking water production. Let's take a look at historical perspective of Seoul in terms of waterworks system. When we started the waterworks system in 1908, until 1950s, the population grew slowly, but the capacity did not increase much. Unfortunately, Koreans had the Korean War in 1950, so the population decreased rapidly.

The dark blue line is the population of Seoul, and then from 1960 Korean government started so-called "Economic Development Plan" in Korea. So the population and the economy grew very fast during the 70s and the 80s. As you can see, the population grew fast and the light blue line, which is the capacity of drinking water production, increased rapidly as well. But in 2000, the population growth was stabilized and the capacity was stabilized too, but after 2000 it decreased.

It means we could reduce the production amount of water, because we increased the efficiency of the system. We will talk about that later. The production capacity of Seoul, for drinking water, is 4.6 million cubic meter per day. It's a huge amount of water. With the 4.6 million cubic meters of water, we can fill 2500 Olympic sized swimming pools.

And we have supply pipe network with the length of 14,000 kilometers. 14,000 kilometers is a little bit longer than the diameter of the Earth. This is the map of Seoul. As we mentioned before, the Han River passes through the middle of city from the East, which is the upstream, to the West which is the downstream.

We have six source water intake stations.There is a little dot, five. The other one is located at Paldang dam, outside of Seoul. And we have six water treatment plants. One, two, three covers Northern part of Seoul and the other one, two, three covers the Southern part of Seoul. The city achieved many things in waterworks system, but because of the time limit, I'd like to share with you a couple of important achievements among them.

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