S. Korea's first sand dam tested in remote valley town to provide drinking water

By Lim Chang-won Posted : September 23, 2022, 13:39 Updated : September 23, 2022, 14:13

[Courtesy of KICT]

SEOUL -- Sand dams built across a seasonal sandy river have never been used in South Korea, which has a tap water supply rate of 97.5 percent. As a cost-effective water solution, sand dams are usually applied to dry areas such as Africa to provide an improved, local and reliable source of water for communities living in remote, rural areas.

For residents living in remote mountainous valleys, South Korea used to mobilize water trucks to provide drinking water during extreme drought, which is more frequent than before due to climate change.
A research team from the state-run Korea Institute of Civil Engineering and Building Technology (KICT) has built an experimental sand dam in a valley-side village in Chuncheon, 60 kilometers (37 miles) east of Seoul, in a state project endorsed by the Ministry of Environment. 

KICT's sand dam used a bypass method of indirectly taking in river-bed water contained in gravel and sand layers on the side and outskirts of a river. The sand dam produced up to 150 tons of drinking water per day. Even in extreme drought, continuous water supply for at least 10 days was possible.

The sand dam will be transferred to Chuncheon City at the end of 2022 for permanent management. "The developed sand dam will greatly contribute to improving the quality of life of local residents as it can stably supply clean water even in extreme drought in summer and a freezing season in winter," KICT head Kim Byung-suk said in a statement on September 23. 

The research team applied an indirect water intake method for safety reasons. If the fast-flowing valley is directly blocked, dam loss may occur. KICT said that researchers have installed a sand dam in the lower part of a small water intake source next to a valley river as well as a piping facility to fill the secured space with sand and supply water that passed through a sand layer below it.
기사 이미지 확대 보기