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Republic of Korea

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Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

33.3%
Influent
33.3%
Water Demand and Competition among Users
33.3%
Water Pricing

Country Overview

1.1.1.WATER RESOURCES Most of the rivers flow west and south through the plains. There are five main drainage systems, which altogether cover two-thirds of the territory: -The Han River basin in the northwest, with an average runoff estimated at 19.4km³/year and a drainage area of 26,018km²; -The Kuem River basin in the west, with an average runoff estimated at 6.2km³/year and a drainage area of 9,810km²; -The Nag Dong River basin in the south, with an average runoff estimated at 13.9km³/year and a drainage area of 23,817km²; -The Seom Jin River basin in the south, with an average runoff estimated at 3.8km³/year and a drainage area of 4,897km²; -The Young San River basin in the south, with an average runoff estimated at 2.6km³/year and a drainage area of 3,371km². The total annual volume of surface runoff produced internally is estimated at 62.25km³, while internal groundwater resources amount to approximately 13.3km³. About 10.7km³ of groundwater resources constitute the base flow of the rivers. Some transboundary rivers cross the border with DPR Korea. By taking into account the annual discharge of the Han River in DPR Korea (19.4km³/year with a catchment basin four times that of the basin flow into the Republic of Korea), the inflow to the Republic of Korea from DPR Korea is estimated at 4.85km³/year. The total average surface water discharge in the Republic of Korea is therefore estimated at 67.1km³/year. Due to the intensive nature of the rainfall and the steeper natural channel slopes, about 37 per cent of the annual water resources are flood runoffs, concentrated in summer. Out of the 64.5km³ of river runoff, 47km³ run off in flooding time. The total renewable water resources are estimated at 69.7km³/year. During the last 50 years, a considerable effort has been made to regulate the course of rivers. Multipurpose river basin schemes have been developed for flood control, irrigation, community water supply and hydropower production. In 1997, there were 765 dams of over 15m in height. There are more than 18,000 small irrigation reservoirs. Man-made lakes account for 93 per cent of all lakes in the Republic of Korea. The water storage for dams and reservoirs totals 16.2km³.

1.1.2.WATER USE Major environmental problems are air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; and drift net fishing. Managing clean water in rivers and lakes has been a major environmental policy target in Korea. As a result, the Korean government has continuously increased investment in sewage treatment facilities, drainage systems and industrial waste water treatment facilities. Recently, the Korean government introduced comprehensive water management measures for the four major river streams. ‘The act relating to water resources in Han River and community support’ and the special act on Nakdong Rivers watershed management’ were enacted in 1999. Similar acts regulating the Geum River and Yeongsan River watersheds were enacted in 2000. Korea enforces stringent drinking water quality standards. As a result, the proportion of monitoring sites which exceeded drinking water standards more than once per year is 0.6 per cent at filtration plants, 0.4 per cent at taps, and 14.7 per cent at mineral spring spots.

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH The main institutions involved in irrigation and drainage include the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), the Federation of Farmland Improvement Association (FFIA), and the Water Users Associations (WUAs). The MAFF, through the Rural Development Bureau (RDB), is responsible for policy, planning and financing of all rural infrastructure projects, and for the supervision of local government institutions, the RDC, the FFIA, the FLIAs and the WUAs. The RDC is a semi-autonomous agency which carries out the planning, study, design, and supervision of rural infrastructure projects in the country and overseas; the execution of largescale agricultural development projects; the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the important facilities of large-scale agricultural development projects; and the provision of O&M training courses for FLIA staff as well as engineering and administrative training courses for its own staff. The FFIA is a public corporation which mainly carries out the planning, design, and supervision of farmland improvement projects for farmland consolidation as well as providing guidance on the operational improvement of FLIAs. There are 105 FLIAs in the country which are responsible for the O&M of public irrigation systems. WUAs are organized by the farmers for the O&M of small irrigation systems which are not included in FLIA systems. The small systems are constructed and/or rehabilitated by the government through the cities or the counties before being transferred to WUAs.

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Organizations in Republic of Korea


The Asian Development Bank aims for an Asia and Pacific free from poverty. Approximately 1.7 billion people in the region are poor and unable to access essential goods, services, assets and opportunities to which every human is entitled. Since its ... Learn More

BLH Aqua Technology is a South Korea based company focused on developing water efficiency enhancement technologies. Our first product, Aqutonix, is an agriculture technology product that increases the absorption of water in plants with no added chemicals in order to ... Learn More

CJ Cheilijedang is a global lifestyle company that creates health, happiness and convenience. The company aims to globalize the taste of Korea through creating balanced taste between Korean cuisine and local preferences, and share healthy and convenient lifestyle. Learn More

Organizational Overview GGGI is a new kind of international organization — interdisciplinary, multi-stakeholder and driven by the needs of emerging and developing countries. It has been established by several forward-thinking governments to maximize the opportunity for “bottom up” (i.e., country- ... Learn More

Microsoft's mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. Learn More

Pulmuone conducts business in a wide variety of areas, including functional foods, meal services, concession businesses, whole food distribution, mineral water, and fermented milk. Learn More

The Company shall achieve its ultimate goal of sustained progress by maintaining stability and growth. Furthermore, it shall create value for its customers, people and shareholders, thereby contributing to social and economic development and human well-being. Learn More

Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd is a South Korean multinational electronics company headquartered in Suwon, South Korea. Learn More

The Water Resilience Coalition, founded in 2020, is an industry-driven, CEO-led coalition of the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate that aims to elevate global water stress to the top of the corporate agenda and preserve the world's freshwater resources ... Learn More

Projects in Republic of Korea


Pulmuone Food Eum-sung tofu has improved its raw material cleaning facility. The facility replaced old raw material scrubbers which need to use a high volume of water to water-reduced raw material cleaners and applied for 2 new machines to produce ... Learn More

Project WET is currently active in more than 75 countries around the world through a network of partner organizations that range from small NGOs to major international corporations and organizations. We only go where we’re invited! We work with our ... Learn More

Amkor is adopting water efficiency, water re-use, recycling and conservation practices and installing a water recycling system at its plant off the Yeongsan River.Project ResultsWater recycling Learn More

For the past year, the level of water stress went up due to decrease of the volume of ground water withdrawal. However, the operation of a reused water facility (R/O Facility) has decreased the level of water stress, diminishing the ... Learn More

Suggested Resources

View the full list of 300+ resources at the Water Stewardship Toolbox

This Working Paper proposes a method whereby any decision-maker can calculate the cost required to deliver sustainable water management to a geography. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Inform and strengthen your company’s water management strategies and allow your investors to evaluate current water management activities against detailed definitions of leading practice. Learn More

Developers: Ceres

World Resource Institute's four Aqueduct assessment tools -- Water Risk Atlas, Country Rankings, Aqueduct Food, and Aqueduct Floods -- help companies, governments, and civil society understand and respond to water risks. These water risks include water stress, seasonal variability, pollution, ... Learn More

Developers: World Resources Institute

In this Nature feature, Johan Rockstrom and co-authors argue that identifying and quantifying planetary boundaries that must not be transgressed could help prevent human activities from causing unacceptable environmental change. Learn More

Nature-based solution (NBS) can improve degraded ecosystems, help sequester carbon, and manage the effects of climate change, including extreme weather events. Businesses are beginning to recognize the value of NBS for climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

Developed by a group of leading beverage businesses, this is an easy-to-use excel tool for beverage facilities to estimate direct costs associated with their most water- and resource- intensive processes, beyond just the cost of water from the tap. The ... Learn More

Chem-MAP® is a ZDHC-approved program to improve chemical management in leather, textile, and synthetic materials supply chains. The program reduces chemical risk to customers. Learn More

Plan, Prepare and Respond- Breakdown for different industries on how to operate safely. Cleaning and disinfecting, Worker Safety, Support Resources, Mitigation Strategy Learn More

California and the federal government are providing broad assistance to small businesses and employers impacted by COVID-19. Learn More

This report presents analysis of the response data from a sample of 783 of the world’s largest publicly listed companies. The report is aimed at companies and investors seeking to understand how they can play their part in delivering a ... Learn More

The Toolbox connects your business to the latest tools, guidance, case studies, datasets, and more most relevant to you based on your circumstances and interests. It features more than 250+ resources from dozens of organizations and is updated every week. Learn More

Developers: CEO Water Mandate, Pacific Institute

Checklist for restoring water quality in buildings left unused for a long duration. Learn More

Developers: EPA Office of Wastewater Management

CDC/EPA Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Includes Printable Materials Learn More

We’re here to help you overcome the challenges created by this health crisis. We offer multiple funding options for those seeking relief. Read more below. Learn More

This report makes the case for private sector investment in green infrastructure as part of a broader water stewardship approach. Learn More

Developers: BHP

The Cotton made in Africa standards comprise the Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) and the Cotton made in Africa-Organic (CmiA-Organic) Standard. The standards are intended to improve the living conditions of African smallholders and support sustainable cotton production. The standards ... Learn More

This guide aims to provide professionals with the practical information and resources to either start sourcing sustainable cotton or increase volumes. Learn More

The purpose of these guidelines is to highlight additional measures so that the integrity of the food chain is maintained, and that adequate and safe food supplies are available for consumers. Learn More

Includes Immediate steps, ongoing health measures that can be taken, and responsible business practice Learn More

Based on the major combat guidelines set by the São Paulo State Government, Sabesp is fully engaged to endure COVID-19 pandemic within its operation area, which means 374 municipalities located throughout São Paulo state and home to about 28 million ... Learn More

Developers: Sabesp

Best practices- Resources- Webinars on WASH/COVID-19 topics. Learn More

Urban stormwater is becoming an increasingly important alternative water supply in California. However, current economic analyses do not adequately evaluate co-benefits provided by different stormwater investments. As a result, urban stormwater capture is undervalued. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

ECO PASSPORT by OEKO-TEX is an independent certification for chemicals, colorants, and accessories used in textile and leather manufacturing. The certification verifies that each individual substance in the chemical product meets statutory requirements and does not harm human health. Learn More

The Fairtrade Cotton standard promotes sustainability and social responsiblity across the cotton supply chain. Learn More

The GEMI Local Water Tool (LWT) helps organizations evaluate water-related external impacts, business risks and sufficiency of management plans at specific sites. Key Functions: Quantify water-related impacts caused by facility Quantify facility’s exposure to water-related risk Identify helpful management response Learn More

The Global Organic Textile Standard specifies a supply-chain textile processing standard that includes ecological and social criteria. The standard seeks to define worldwide requirements for textiles to be described as organic. These requirements cover the entire supply chain, from harvesting ... Learn More

The Global Water Footprint Assessment Standard can be used to provide comparable quantification and robust analytics, helping corporations, governments, and researchers manage water resources and achieve greater water sustainability. Learn More

The Green Supply Chain: Brand Map is a leadership initiative dedicated to showcasing brands’ commitment to supply chain transparency and environmental management. Learn More

This guide outlines why and how investors engage on agricultural supply chain water risk. Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Committee designed this document to guide the food industry and advise its sponsoring agencies in the implementation of HACCP systems. Learn More

In this link, you will find an overview of our measures and initiatives to support the health and livelihood of employees and communities in which we operate. Our three guiding principles: Health, safety, and trust of our people Safeguard the ... Learn More

Developers: Heineken

Adapting to climate change, coupled with the need to address aging infrastructure, population growth, and degraded ecosystems, requires significant investment in natural and built water systems. These investments present a significant opportunity to support not only water, but to provide ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The India Water Tool brings together 20 datasets and risk indicators to help users understand their water risks in India. Learn More

This ISO Standard helps to evaluate the sustainability of a product across its life cycle. Learn More

To provide guidance and a global framework for the design, verification and scaling up of Nature-based Solutions. The Standard includes globally consistent Criteria and Indicators, which are supported by the Principles for Nature-based Solutions, to measure the strength of interventions. Learn More

Developers: International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

Levi Strauss &amp; Co. has issued this standard to encourage preservation of fresh water through water recycling. Learn More

Developers: Levi Strauss & Co.

To help our partners in responding to this health crisis in their countries, we have compiled different resources and tools around COVID-19 and WASH, which include documents, videos, social media materials with messages on public health, webinar recordings, etc. Learn More

With special attention to resources for utilities, this page lists relevant guidance around water and COVID-19. Learn More

Developers: American Water Works Association

This page seeks to help water sector professionals keep informed on the attributions of the COVID-19 virus and any measures needed to protect both workers and public health, in general. Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

This article presents the state of knowledge with regard to human health and well-being from contact with nature. Learn More

The United Nations World Water Development Report for 2018. Learn More

This report seeks to provide an overview of the way in which the social and economic development of continental Asia is dependent on the resources of ten rivers. Learn More

Developers: China Water Risk

One Planet Approaches consist of a family of tools, methodologies, frameworks, programs, and action plans, which recognize the need to measure and reduce human impact in relation to the absolute boundaries of the Earth system. Learn More

Levi Strauss &amp; Co. chose to publish their innovative Water&lt;Less fabric finishing techniques to encourage water-saving practices across the apparel industry. Learn More

Developers: Levi Strauss & Co.

With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their core operations. This guide is meant as a stepping point to begin reopening with safety as a ... Learn More

TextileExchange's report offers personal accounts from fiber and materials experts “inside” the industry, demonstrating various company strategies and fiber priorities being implemented to achieve greater sustainability. Learn More

During an infectious disease outbreak, such as the current outbreak of COVID-19, small business owners must prepare for disruption in their business as well as prepare to protect their employees’ health and safety in the workplace. These steps are recommended ... Learn More

This report uses new data and calculations to show that investments in resource efficiency, secure work environments, and sustainable materials can benefit the environment and improve profitability. Learn More

This report shows how putting nature to work can help deliver infrastructure services with greater impact and lower cost, all the while reducing risks from disaster, boosting water security and enhancing climate resilience. Learn More

The Coca-Cola Company is quantifying the water-related “Replenish” benefits derived through its Community Water Partnership (CWP) projects. The work described in this report builds on previous efforts, and provides a current status of quantification results for three categories of CWP ... Learn More

Developers: GETF, The Coca-Cola Company

Questions\ guidelines relating to food businesses answered by the WHO. Learn More

CottonConnect's Responsible Environment Enhanced Livelihoods Cotton (REEL COTTON) standard is a business-driven initiative that sources sustainable cotton to improve environmental, quality, and traceability conditions in supply chain factories and farms worldwide. Committed brands and their supply chains undertake a development-oriented ... Learn More

How to ensure the safety of staff and maintaining water quality in buildings with little or no use. Learn More

This report seeks to provide an overview of the three leading water tools available for corporate water risk assessment. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

SAVEh is the platform through which Ambev shares its water management system free of charge with other companies, which has helped to reduce more than 40% of the company’s water consumption in the last 13 years. This water efficiency tool ... Learn More

Developers: Ambev S/A

The Colorado River Basin states face significant water challenges, including the overallocation of water, long-term drought, and climate change. This report, commissioned by the Walton Family Foundation, explores the potential for corporate water stewardship to help solve these challenges. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The City of Austin, Texas is facing an increasingly uncertain water future, from decreasing water supplies and more intense droughts to periodic flooding and water quality impairments. Austin is addressing these challenges head on, from investments in water efficiency and ... Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

The Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) Compass Business Tools inventory maps existing business tools against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It allows you to explore commonly used business tools that may be useful when assessing your organization’s impact on the SDGs. Learn More

This guide aims to help companies set effective site water targets that are informed by catchment context, which can create value and lessen risks for the company and support collective action. Learn More

Developers: CEO Water Mandate

This report provides findings on good practices of AWS Standard implementation. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

In response to the challenge of quantifying the business benefits, WaterAid, Diageo, GAP Inc., and Unilever have worked with PwC and ODI to develop a practical, step-by-step guide. The guide will help companies understand the business value of their WASH ... Learn More

Developers: WaterAid

The Forest Stewardship Council created the Principles of Forest Stewardship as a worldwide standard to promote environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests. Learn More

The AWS Standard is a globally-applicable framework for major water users to understand their water use and impacts, and to work collaboratively and transparently for sustainable water management within a catchment context. Learn More

Developers: Alliance for Water Stewardship

This paper provides examples of how to make progress in service delivery in and beyond the workplace. With private enterprises playing a critical role in contributing to the safety of their staff, it is important to change some of their ... Learn More

This discussion paper examines the need for companies to openly acknowledge and discuss the business dependency on consumption, exploring the topic through three different product examples – cars, beef, and clothing. Learn More

This special Academy session covered steps businesses can take to respect and support the rights and lives of women and girls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

‘The Five Goods’ stem from Fashion for Good’s robust definition of ‘good’ and intend to guide the sector with a genuine and accountable framework with the promise of social, economic, and environmental prosperity. Learn More

Measure the environmental and social impact of your apparel products and operations. Learn More

This case study looks closely at a pair of Levi Strauss &amp; Co. stone wash jeans with the goal of helping companies in the apparel sector take more effective and holistic approaches to the industry’s environmental impact. Learn More

Developers: Levi Strauss & Co.

This tool is an interactive map linking nature-based solutions to climate change adaptation outcomes based on a systematic review of peer-reviewed literature. Learn More

Developers: Pacific Institute

This report is a culmination of industry interviews, non-government organization inputs, and desk research, the report highlights practical examples for companies in the sector and beyond, grappling with how to integrate the SDGs into their core business and global supply ... Learn More

This report explores the possibilities of scaling a circular economy, given the reality of the global economy and the complexity of multi-tier supply chains. Learn More

Developers: World Economic Forum

ToxServices' Full Materials Disclosure Screened Chemistry Program (ToxFMD®) promotes chemical optimization through chemical hazard assessment, hazard reduction, and informed substitution. ZDHC members use the program to document conformance with the ZDHC MRSL. Learn More

Evaluate the current status of access to safe WASH at the workplace in a given facility of your company. Assess the current status of access to safe WASH at the workplace in a given facility Support decision-making regarding investments and ... Learn More

ILO Sectoral Policies and Governance and Tripartism Departments present four self-training modules, which adapt existing ILO training tools on OSH to provide governments, workers and employers with the necessary skills to implement the general principles contained in relevant ILO instruments. ... Learn More

This UN World Water Development report evaluates the vast quantities of domestic, agricultural and industrial wastewater discharged into the environment everyday as a valuable resource rather than costly problem. Learn More

Companies are increasingly setting and pursing ‘water balance targets’ as part of their water stewardship strategies. The seeming simplicity of balance goals can be attractive – “we will restore a volume of water equal to the amount our business consumes.” ... Learn More

Developers: WWF

This report calls for an integrated approach that brings together governments, water users, and the society at large including the private sector, NGOs, and academia to design smart, adaptable and sustainable solutions for water infrastructure impacted by climate change. Learn More

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

The Water Risk Filter can be used to assess and respond to water-related risks for your own operations, suppliers, or growth plans. Learn More

Developers: WWF

Safely managed water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) services are an essential part of preventing and protecting human health during infectious disease outbreaks, including the current COVID-19 pandemic. Learn More

These guidelines intend to help close the knowledge gap on wastewater treatment technologies and motivate relevant facilities in the apparel and footwear industry to implement the professional treatment systems necessary to meet the ZDHC Wastewater Guidelines. Learn More

World Resources Institute Learn More

CEO Water Mandate; CDP; The Nature Conservancy; World Resources Institute; WWF Learn More

The Sustainable Business Group; The Sustainable Fashion Academy; The Global Leadership Award in Sustainable Apparel Learn More

Swedish Textile Water Initiative Learn More

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