[사설]The southern region is suffering from drought for the first time in 50 years

Juam Dam in Suncheon, Jeollanam-do, the largest multi-purpose dam in Honam, is the lifeline that feeds Gwangju and South Jeolla. It is a source of drinking water for 11 cities and counties in Jeollanam-do, including Gwangju, Goheung, Naju, and Mokpo, and a source of industrial water for Yeosu National Industrial Complex, the largest petrochemical complex in Korea, and Gwangyang National Industrial Complex, where steel companies gather. Juam Dam, a tourist attraction thanks to its beautiful scenery and Songgwangsa Temple, is drying up due to the worst drought in 50 years.

Upstream of Juam Dam, where the blue stream was cool, only the cracked dirt floor can be seen these days. The water surface area of ​​the Juam Dam basin has shrunk by the size of 678 soccer fields in two years. Juam Dam and nearby Jangheung Dam and Seomjingang Dam have less than half of the average water storage rate. Local residents who survived the corona are burned by the ‘disaster text message’ announcing the low yield. The water pressure in the apartment is dropped to make the water come out gradually, and each resident association distributes bricks prepared and puts them in the toilet tank to save water. Large-scale factories in the Yeosu-Gwangyang industrial complex, such as Posco, Hyundai Steel, LG Chem, and GS Caltex, are reducing their water use by temporarily stopping or shutting down their operations. This is to prevent the worst situation of ‘cut off water’ until the rainy season in June.

Last year, the number of drought days in Gwangju and Jeonnam was 281.3, the longest since meteorological observations were made in 1973. Haegal is distant because there is no news of rain even when the year changes. The drought has expanded to the Yeongnam region, including Busan and Daegu, and the drought level has been upgraded to ‘caution’ for Hapcheon Dam, Andong Dam, and Yeongcheon Dam. The water level of the dam is close to the reservoir level, which is the limit of normal water supply. Below the low water level is ‘dead water’, so a water crisis is expected where there is not enough water to drink immediately unless it is purified at an enormous cost. Without water, the Yeosu-Gwangyang industrial complex inevitably suffers hundreds of billions of won a day. It is necessary to minimize the amount of water used and to delay the arrival of the low water level as much as possible by drawing water from other dams with large water reserves.

In the past, droughts occurred nationwide every 5 to 7 years, but since 10 years ago, localized droughts have occurred every year. Due to climate change, not only the Korean Peninsula but also China and France are experiencing the worst drought ever. Even if it is not climate change, the water shortage problem has entered a serious state due to urbanization and industrialization. Measures to reduce demand, such as the water-saving subsidy system, should be implemented, and alternative water resources such as sewage and wastewater reuse and seawater desalination should be speeded up.

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