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Marked improvement in water quality after opening of weirs built under Four Rivers Project

All Headlines 14:49 June 29, 2018

SEOUL, June 29 (Yonhap) -- Three major rivers in South Korea have shown marked improvement in water quality and ecosystems after the opening of some weirs built across the rivers under a controversial project of former President Lee Myung-bak, the government said Friday.

The Lee administration spent 22 trillion won (US$20 billion) from 2008-2012 on the Four Rivers Project to clean up the rivers and mitigate seasonal floods and droughts. But the project has been under constant criticism that large weirs built across the rivers worsened water quality and spread harmful green tides.

The government of President Moon Jae-in opened 10 of the 16 weirs in the Kum, Nakdong and Yeongsan rivers three times over the past year, and the opening led to marked improvements in water quality with up to a 41 percent reduction in green tides, officials said.

"We were able to confirm the possibility that the nature of the four rivers can be recovered," said Hong Nam-ki, head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination. "As meaningful changes were observed around weirs that were opened more, we confirmed the need to expand the opening of weirs."

Officials said they plan to open 13 of the 16 weirs in the second half of the year while making sure that the opening won't lead to water shortages.

Hong Nam-ki, head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, holds a press briefing on the controversial Four Rivers Project in Seoul on June 29, 2018. (Yonhap)

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