In December 2008, the government announced its push for the Four-River Project. However, some representatives strongly protested, citing budget waste and concerns over poor construction work, and political debates have continued since. Two months later in February 2009, the plan was completed. The goals of the project were to develop recreational areas along rivers, create reservoirs for agriculture, and restore river eco systems. In early 2013, the Four Major River Project was completed. Soon after, some people proposed dismantling the dams due to the growth of algae in the reservoirs, but some people those who oppose that because of the huge cost of dismantling them. There is still an escalating fight about the pros and cons.
The government's push for a Four Major Rivers Project was officially decided at the Third Balanced National Development Committee in 2008. The purpose of the Four Major Rivers Project was to develop recreational spaces along rivers, reservoirs for agriculture, and restore river eco systems. With that purposes it costs 22.2 trillion won. However, some of dams have already stopped being used but have been left in the rivers, causing the potential for accidents. To fix this problem, the dams should be dismantled.
Firstly, according to the laws of nature, rivers should flow. When a floodgate was opened on the Dalseong dam of the Nakdong River, the water level decreased by 2.4 meters, and some of the rivers turn into mud. The Nakdong River has been stagnant due to the influence of the massive dams that were built during the Four Major Rivers Project, and various suspended solids and bird bodies have accumulated under the beams.
One of the main purposes of the Four Major Rivers Project is to provide water for agricultural use, but as the surrounding areas were developed into cities, such as Bundang, there is no need of dams. Tancheon is a 35.6 km-long stream that originates in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province, and flows through Bundang-gu, Seongnam-si, Songpa and Gangnam-gu in Seoul, and flows into the Han River. A total of 16 agricultural dams were installed on the 15.7 km section of the Tancheon river that flows through Seongnam. This is because in the past this place was all farmland. However, as surrounding areas were developed into cities, such as the creation of new towns in Bundang, the dams were no longer needed for agricultural. Rather, they block the flow of the stream, contaminating the water, and causing a horrible smell.
Opening the floodgate frequently has limitations for water quality improvement and recovering continuity of the ecological system. Water quality and the restoration of aquatic life in the Nakdong River are far from possible by opening the floodgate for a short time and closing it again. So, for an alternative to improve water quality, there was a type of Pulse discharge that have been releases a huge amount of water in short time. A type of Pulse used for two years, and the water quality cannot be improved.
For these reasons, the dams should be dismantled immediately. Unless it costs a lot of money it was not that effective as we expected. Also, there is a lot of controversy that it caused waste of budget and poor construction.
- Opinion from a reader
(Phyun So hyun, Department of International Relations)
I think the government should dismantle the Four Major River’s dams. The purpose of the Four Major Rivers Project is mainly about improving water quality. However, rather than realizing the benefits by keeping the water secured, the project is causing massive environmental damage from algal blooms. Therefore, there is no reason to maintain the project’s dams because they failed to achieve their goal.
The Four Major River Project was carried out with the goal of creating 16 dams and 96 reservoirs along the four major rivers and their tributaries. The project took four years to complete and cost 22 trillion won. However, there are differing opinions on the effects of the dams and whether they should be dismantled. The main complaints are that, they were a waste of money, poorly constructed, and ruined of the natural river ecosystems.
Firstly, it takes a lot of money to dismantle the dams. News reports say it will cost nearly 90 billion won to dismantle only the three dams (Gongju -dam, Sejong -dam, Juksun -dam). Many people say that it is right to dismantle them because they think they can be dismantled for less money than maintaining them. They also think they will have to pay more taxes if they keep them. Alternatively, maintenance costs will be 98 billion won over 40 years. That is only 2.45 billion a year for three dams, so that is less than a billion won per year per dam. This means it is cheaper to maintain them than remove them.
Secondly, the Four-River Project was done to reduce the damage of floods and droughts. However, if the dams disappear, they cannot attract water and the groundwater will decrease. An example is Gongju dam-weir. The residents of Gongju said that the flood and drought damages has been eliminated since the construction of Gongju -dam. However, if Gongju -dam is removed, the level of groundwater will become lower and water cannot be drawn in. As a countermeasure, they say they will dig large-scale underground water pipes. A resident of Gongju also tried to break down the algae caused by the dams. If the dams are left open on a regular basis, the algae problem will disappear.
The utilization of the water resources of the four rivers is not an option but a must-have task in our water-poor country. The project of connecting the tributaries of the four rivers should be further developed not dismantled. It is the farmers and the local people who are most affected by the dismantling of the dams. It's not about the environment that we see for farmers, it's about survival.
Opinion from a reader
Kim Gui-gon (Department of Korean Language and Literature)
I am opposed to the dismantling of the Four Major Rivers Project. The reason is that we can store water that can be used in times of drought, which we have experienced in recent years. Without the water stored in the reservoirs, the damage is expected to have been more serious. The second reason is that the installation of the dam reduces damage from typhoons and floods. As this is a disaster that is more serious than a drought disaster, I think this is a proper measure because there is no other response. Finally, the Four-River Project has had economic benefits led a higher employment rate by many construction companies and increased toursim, which is good for the economy.