South Korea Is Planning For Rapid Urban Population Increase

The City of Busan, South Korea’s second largest, in 2013 will be operating the world’s largest seawater reverse osmosis plant of its kind based on a measure of its unit train and membrane size. The plant will use membranes with a 16-inch diameter—double that of the current global standard.

“The purpose of the Busan project is to do the research and development, operate the technology on a practical level, then export the core technologies,” says Professor In S. Kim, executive director of the Center for Seawater Desalination Plant in Korea. “The greatest benefit will be the outcomes of the research and development that can be used in regions of the world where there are long-term water shortages, especially with the uncertainties presented by climate change. “The project is aimed at exploring overseas markets by developing integral and strategic technologies,” said Professor Kim. Seawater reverse osmosis desalination requires a lot of steps—intake, pre-treatment, the reverse osmosis process, and post-treatment processing.”

The new desalination plant, therefore, promises to diversify the sources of water resources and produce high-quality tap water for Busan.” The new desalination plant will be capable of producing 45 million litres of water daily, which is enough to provide drinking water for 50,000 households. The average water use per person per day in Busan is 301 litres.

The ambitious seawater reverse osmosis plan is in anticipation of massive increases in demand for drinking water in urban areas.

“In the next 40 years urban populations will grow by at least 1 million every week.”

“This is why water professionals need to change the way they think about sourcing water, and using it over and over again,” according to International Water Association’s (IWA) executive director, Paul Reiter.  Mr Reiter announced at a press conference in Seoul  that future technologies and approaches to providing sustainable water solutions will be center stage at the upcoming IWA World Water Congress & Exhibition in Korea in September.

Mr. Reiter  says the most important message of the Congress for the expected 5,000 water professionals who attend will be to hasten the uptake of these new water management options. “We need to break the orthodox approach to delivering water to urban communities,” says Mr Reiter. Across the globe, water is an issue for many different reasons, including stable supply, sanitation, drainage, wastewater reuse, industrial management, or the environmental impact of new water technologies. Between 2009 and 2050, urban populations alone are projected to increase by 2.9 billion to 6.3 billion.

More Information from the International Water Association.