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Lee says water too cheap in Korea

President Lee Myung-bak said Tuesday that Koreans appeared to be wasting water because it is “too cheap.”

Lee made the remarks as he met with representatives of the International Water Association to exchange views on sustainable use of water resources and how to successfully host a biennial water congress in Busan in September.

They also discussed the latest developments in the global water industry as well as regional and global management of water, Lee’s office said.

Lee’s meeting with IWA president Glenn Daigger and IWA executive director Paul Reiter came as local administrations and environmental groups across Korea celebrated the U.N.-designated World Water Day on Tuesday.

Lee said he expects the IWA leaders’ visit to raise Koreans’ awareness of the importance of water resource management.

“Many Koreans do not seem to recognize the importance of water because they take it for granted,” he said.

“I heard that the average amount of water consumed per capita in Korea is much bigger than that in Europe. I think people waste water because its price is too cheap.”

The IWA offered an honorary membership award to Lee in recognition of his efforts to restore the Cheonggye Stream and develop the nation’s four main rivers, Lee’s spokesperson Kim Hee-jung said.

Lee said his government was trying to come up with creative solutions to secure water resources as climate change and an increase in natural disasters are expected to make water management more difficult, according to Kim. 
People look at a photo at an exhibition for the U.N.-designated World Water Day on Tuesday at the Seocho-gu office in Seoul. (Yonhap News)
People look at a photo at an exhibition for the U.N.-designated World Water Day on Tuesday at the Seocho-gu office in Seoul. (Yonhap News)

Up to 8,000 water experts from about 150 countries are expected to gather in Busan for the World Water Congress between Sept. 16 and 21, according to the people preparing for the event.

Kim Chang-won, president of the 2012 WWC, attended the meeting between Lee and IWA representatives Tuesday.

The IWA is a global network of water professionals in research, practice, regulation, industry, consulting and manufacturing.

South Korea is also seeking to host the 2015 World Water Forum, a much larger conference, in the Daegu-North Gyeongsang Province region.

The World Water Council, an international network of nongovernmental organizations dealing with water policy topics, determines where to hold the WWF, which is organized every three years in collaboration with the authorities of the hosting country.

Daegu-North Gyeongsang is competing against Scotland’s Glasgow and the United Arab Emirates’ Abu Dhabi. The WWC will pick the host of the 2015 WWF in November this year. The 2012 WWF will be held in Marseilles, France.

The world’s largest water-related international forum is aimed at raising the importance of water on the political agenda and formulating concrete proposals through discussions on how to solve international water issues. The WWF is held for a week around March 22, which is World Water Day.

By Kim So-hyun (sophie@heraldcorp.com)
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