What happened to Nakdong?


“The river is turning dark green.” On August 5th at 11 am, the Nakdong River gradually turned green, while odor-less pulp and sand were also observed. In areas with a slow flow of water, there were huge build-ups of green substances. Near the rocks, dark green algae, aquatic plants, and garbage mixed to create an unpleasant smell, while carps were covered with the rotten materials and struggled to gasp for air.

As temperatures continue to rise near 40 degrees Celsius, fears of a “green tide” in the Nakdong are prevalent. The Daegu Regional Environment Agency issued an algae alert on July 1st by raising the level of “attention” to “alert” status for the Kangjung Gyoryung Reservoir area. This is the first time this year that the area has been put on alert. Last year, the alert was issued 48 days earlier on June 14th. According to the agency’s monitoring, amounts of harmful algae in the area exceeded safety standards of 10000 cells per ml two times on March 28th (24,156 cells per ml) and May 30th (19,620 cells per ml).

They concluded that the recent heat wave (average 33.1 degrees Celsius and up to 39.2) and rise in water temperatures have led to a favorable environment for the growth of algae. It’s predicted that this green tide will continue well into August. An agency official said “The monthly forecast by the Korea Meteorological Administration shows that temperatures in August are higher than normal and the amount of rainfall will be equal or less than usual. This is a good environment for the algae to multiply.”

Due to these circumstances, the agency is closely monitoring the situation by examining potential sources of algae including livestock excrement and field inspections with drones. Other organizations are providing environmental-friendly guidelines regarding activities such as water-skiing, fishing and livestock feeding. In addition, the results of algae analysis have been disclosed via the Water Environment Information system at http://water.nier.go.kr and tap water inspection results are available at http://waternow.go.kr.

Environmental activists are worried about the safety of drinking water and are urging government officials to open floodgates to resolve the algae issue. The Daegu Environmental Movement Union said in a statement on August 5th “Microcystis, a harmful bacterium that carries algae, has a toxic chemical called microcystin, which must be removed from the Nakdong River.”
In response, an official at the Daegu Regional Environment Agency said, “The government will collect water from the river to ensure the public will not be effected by the toxic effects.”

Reporter Kang Syng-kyu kang@yeongnam.com


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