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Water and Environment Journal.

Print ISSN 1747-6585

A new mode of river basin management in South Korea
Seungho Lee1 & Sung Kim2
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Graduate School of International Studies, Korea University, Anam-Dong, Sungbuk-Ku, Seoul, South Korea and 2Sustainable Water Resources Research Center, Korea Institute of Construction Technology, Ilsanseo-Gu, Koyang, Gyeonggi-Do, South Korea

Keywords England and Wales; France; National Water Council; River Basin Authorities; River Basin Committees; river basin management; South Korea; water governance; water law. Correspondence Seungho Lee, Graduate School of International Studies, Korea University, AnamDong, Sungbuk-Ku, Seoul, South Korea. Email: seungho.lee@korea.ac.kr doi:10.1111/j.1747-6593.2008.00114.x

Abstract
This study aims to explore a new mode of river basin management in South Korea by evaluating the current river basin management system and taking lessons from the British and French cases. This research is based on literature reviews and interviews in the United Kingdom, France and South Korea. The British case emphasizes the importance of regulatory framework and limitations of public participation. The French experience epitomizes the empowerment of river basin organizations. The new system in South Korea includes an enactment of water law, a set-up of the National Water Council, the River Basin Authorities and the River Basin Committees. The new model will not be established soon but needs to take a step-by-step approach to minimize social conflicts, accommodate diverse opinions in society and satisfy a variety of demands.

Introduction
The purpose of this study is to explore a new river basin management system in South Korea by evaluating the current river basin management system and taking lessons from the British and French cases. This empirical research is based on extensive literature review and interviews with experts in water management in the United Kingdom, France and South Korea. The case studies on the British and French river basin management will provide sound examples to South Korea. The new system will not be the same as the British or French but a unique one that reflects the complexity of socioeconomic and political landscape in South Korea’s water policy. The first section of this paper is to show a general overview of water resources, management framework and critical issues in South Korea, and research methodology. The challenges in the current river basin management system of South Korea will be discussed, and the case studies of England and Wales and France will be followed. A new mode of river basin management in South Korea will be analysed and suggested based on the lessons from the British and French experiences and new ideas to overcome the current challenges.

Study area and methodology
Study area
Location
Korea is located in the Korean Peninsular in East Asia, which is adjacent to China and Japan. The west coast of the peninsular faces the Yellow Sea towards China. The east coast borders the East Sea towards the Pacific Ocean. The south coast faces the South Sea towards Japan. Korea has been divided into South and North Korea since 1945 (see Fig. 1), and this research only focuses on South Korea.

Water resources
A yearly average precipitation in South Korea reached 1245 mm in the period between 1974 and 2003, which is 1.4 times more than the world average, 880 mm. Thanks to the high population density (approximately 49 million in 2006 in the area of 98 477 km2), a yearly average precipitation per capita amounts only up to 2591 m3, just one-eighth of the world average, 19 635 m3. The total volume of renewable water resources is approximately 72.3 billion m3 and the availability of water resources per
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Fig. 1. Geographical location of South Korea. (Website of Australian War Memorial). http:// www.awm.gov.au/korea/maps/images/ establishing.gif

capita 1512 m3 [18Ministry of Construction and Transportation (MOCT) 2006]. These figures signify the intensity of water scarcity in South Korea. The climatic and territorial characteristics also contribute to water scarcity. A large difference in precipitation from season to season often entails a high degree of flow volume change in rivers. A sudden increase of flow volume in rivers usually takes place from June to September, and two-thirds of the yearly average precipitation is often concentrated in the period. On the contrary, the period from November to April experiences droughts. An uneven composition of water resources has accelerated water scarcity in many localities. Urban areas around the capital, Seoul, have suffered from the lack of water resources because of the rapid urbanization, industrialization and population growth over the past few decades (MOCT 2006).

management and inland navigation through rivers and canals. The Ministry of Environment (MOE) oversees water quality control focusing on environmental protection. In addition to MOCT and MOE, there are three more major ministries engaged in water management such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MOAF), the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs (MOGAHA) and the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) [KICT et al. 2003; Presidential Commission on Suitable Development (PCSD) 2004]. Table 1 illustrates the complexity of water management in the country where many actors are involved in water policy making.

Critical issues
The country embraces a myriad of water issues that need to be resolved soon through new institutional approaches. First, the instability and inequality of water resources in different regions have become acute since the 1990s. For instance, the rate of piped water provision in the nation was 89.4% in the year 2003. The rate of

Water management framework
Currently, the MOCT is in charge of bulk water supply through dams and multiregional supply systems, flood
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Table 1 Allocation of competencies categorized by the roles of ministries Tasks Water management Detailed Planning Permission Price of water Designation of water intake protected areas Dam (water/power) Inland waterways Irrigation Embankment Rivers (small and medium/large) Water supply Urban piped water supply Multi-regional piped water supply Water quality control and regulations Sewage treatment Environmental Impact Assessment River basin flood management Urban flood and designation of national disaster areas and financial support for affected residents Concerned ministries MOCT MOCT MOCT (multiregional) MOE and local governments (piped water and sewage treatment) MOGAHA MOCT (water resources), MOCIE (power generation) and MOAF (irrigation) MOCT MOAF MOCT (flood prevention), MOAF (agriculture/irrigation) MOGAHA (small and medium-sized rivers), MOCT and MOE (large rivers) MOE (general guideline, policy, funding), MOGAHA (infrastructure and management monitoring) MOCT (through KOWACO) MOE MOE (general guideline, policy, funding) MOGAHA (infrastructure and management monitoring) MOE MOCT MOGAHA

Water quality

Flood

MOCT, Ministry of Construction and Transportation; MOAF, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry; MOE, Ministry of Environment; MOGAHA, Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs; MOCIE, Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy; KOWACO, Korea Water Resources Corporation.

piped water provision of major cities and urban areas reached over 97% while that of rural areas varied from 33 to 80%. This highlights the inequality of piped water provision between urban and rural areas in the country (MOCT 2006). Second, it is difficult to launch new water resources development projects such as dam building, canal construction and water transfer because of concerns about environmental impacts and an increase of environmental awareness in public. Third, there have been numerous conflicts between different water users, such as upstream and downstream residents, and rural and urban residents in order to secure more water resources. Such situation might be intensified due to a rapid pace of urbanization, industrialization and population growth. Fourth, continuous disastrous floods and droughts in recent few years need an urgent call for actions on climate change. It is necessary for the government to take into account the uncertainty of hydrological regime related to climate change when the national water plan is drawn up (MOCT 2006).

Methodology
The primary methodology used in this research is a comparative analysis on water policy between England and Wales, France and South Korea. First, a thorough literature review on water policy in these countries has

been conducted. The historical overview of water policy framework and the exploration of uniqueness and problematic issues of river basin management in England and Wales have proved to be useful for the establishment of a future model for river basin management in South Korea (Kinnersley 1994; Hassan 1996; Rees & Zabel 1998; Bakker 2003; Page & Bakker 2005). The characteristics of river basin management in France have been widely discussed among experts (Barraque et al. 1998; Barraque 2001; Sangare and Larrue 2004). The democratic and decentralized nature of the French example implies an innovative approach South Korea should take in order to overcome current challenges in water management (Betlem 1998; Barraque 2001). The exhaustive summary and discourses on water policy in South Korea has been discussed based on a myriad of official reports published by the government and articles in newspapers (MOCT 2001, 2006; Kim 2006; Lee 2006; Water Forum Korea 2006). Second, there have been a series of interviews with experts in academia, governments and research institutes in these countries. A thorough analysis and critical overview of water policy in England and Wales has been possible through interviews with academics who have advised the British government and the European Union. The discussions with the policy expert in France have helped clarify the major characteristics and uncover
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challenging issues of the current French water management system. The views and opinions on water policy in South Korea have been reflected in this study based on interviews with numerous researchers and government officials (Lee 2005, 2006).

Results and discussion
River basin management
South Korea
River basin management is the responsibility of MOCT and MOE, and each has different organizations in the four major river basins, namely the Han River, the Nakdong River, the Keum River and the Youngsan/Seomjin River Basins. The Youngsan and Seomjin River Basins are separated geographically but managed as one river basin. Figure 2 shows the four major river basins in South Korea. MOCT deals with river basin management through six local land management bureaus. These bureaus are in charge of river management with four river management committees in each of major rivers and conduct-related administrative works. In addition to the bureaus, four river flood control offices undertake river forecasting and warnings, control dam management and an issue of water intake licences (KICT et al. 2003). The tasks of local land management bureaus and flood control offices under

Fig. 2. Four major river basins in South Korea.

MOCT indicate that MOCT has partly adopted approaches of river basin management, particularly in river management including flood control. Although MOCT has led water management over the past decades, MOE looks like a competent agency in river basin management. The ministry has river basin environmental offices responsible for water quality control in the four major river basins. The major tasks of these offices are to regulate polluting activities, levy and collect water use charges, manage the River Basin Management Fund, and support local people living in water intake protection zones (Lee 2005). In addition to the offices, MOE has established the ‘River Basin Management Committee’ in each river basin (MOE Website 2006). In theory, the four river basin environmental offices and river basin management committees are similar to the French river basin organizations. However, the four river basin environmental offices only conduct water quality control and often face difficulties implementing regulatory works on certain projects because of resistance from local governments. This confirms that the offices of MOE have also not been able to implement policies covering overall water management issues. There are several challenges in river basin management in South Korea. First, water resources have been managed not based on river basins but administrative boundaries over the past decades. Such management style has caused a few problems: (1) difficulty making an overall water management plan based on hydrological cycles; (2) difficulty drawing up a comprehensive river basin water management plan and (3) conflicts in water use between different administrative regions. In addition, all the power and responsibilities are concentrated within the hands of MOCT and MOE at the central government, which often fails to reflect local water conditions in water management plans (Hong 2002). The second challenge is related to the little integration between water management and land use and planning. There is the ‘National Land Development Plan’ in South Korea to provide a macro-scale planning on land development. This does not well reflect water issues in river basins. Local governments and developers do not prioritize or seriously consider water management plans in their projects (Hong 2002). This situation has worsened since the early 1990s due to the decentralization process. A growing number of local development projects have resulted in a rapid increase of built environments. Such expansion of the built environments has prevented urban runoff from being absorbed by soil and aquifers and has eventually exasperated the peak of floods. The fragmented management is the third challenge. There are three more ministries – MOAF, MOGAHA and MOCIE – involved in water policy in addition to MOCT

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and MOE. Such a complex system has caused not only inefficient water management but also conflicts between ministries because of ‘departmentalism’ (Richards & Smith 2003). The key to success in establishment of river basin management will be closely related to how to deconstruct the current complex policy-making mechanism and reconstruct a new governance system at the central and river basin levels (Hooper 2005). A lack of legal foundations that support river basin management is discussed as the next challenge (KICT et al. 2003). Many legal institutions on water have been enacted and implemented, and this might lead to a conclusion that the country is well equipped with legal settings for water management. However, these laws have been made by different ministries and in some particular contexts. This has triggered a lack of coherent legal application and the repetition or contradiction of laws. For instance, the Civil Law defines water rights and the River Law includes water abstract rights. Although these two rights are similar, the two laws indicate the different range of rights regarding water abstraction and use. Such contradiction has brought about confusion and conflicts between water users. More importantly, there is no basic water law that can systemize disjointed and incomprehensive laws in water management, clarify goals of the national water management based on basic principles and serve as a reference to interpret relevant laws and regulations (PCSD 2004). In addition, no law can be referred to as the one advocating river basin management. There is no mechanism to finance river basin organizations away from the hands of ministries at the central government. MOE has created a water fund in river basins, called ‘Four River Basin Management Fund’ through levying and collecting water use charges (PCSD 2004). Such fund has been exploited to provide financial support for water quality enhancement projects and regional development projects in river basins, which is similar to the French case. One of the fundamental flaws in the fund is that unlike the French case, the fund is managed by MOE through river basin environment offices, which does not guarantee the administrative and financial independence of the river basin environment offices. In addition, the fund is supposed to be utilized for enhancing water infrastructures and institutional settings based on a consensus between water-related bureaus and local governments. The reality is that MOE exclusively uses the fund without any consultation with other government bureaus, including MOCT. There is no adequate organization to mediate water conflicts between government bureaus, local governments and water users in South Korea. The central government established a mediating organization such as the ‘Water Management Mediation Council’ in the late

1990s. This organization was unsuccessful because it worked on an ad hoc basis without sufficient legal foundations and had no administrative or financial mandate to enforce policies (KICT et al. 2003). Faced with the challenges discussed above, the water community in South Korea has taken into account introduction of a new river basin management framework in the recent few years. It is useful to take lessons from the countries that have continued to implement river basin management i.e. England and Wales and France. These countries are different from South Korea in many ways, including socio-economic and political systems, physical geography, and historical backgrounds. However, the countries provide some of the few success cases in river basin management in the world (Interview 130705). It is worthwhile to look at the development and current circumstances of the river basin management in the countries. The case studies will provide invaluable lessons to learn for policy makers in South Korea.

England and Wales
The river basin management in England and Wales has a series of characteristics including strong regulatory authorities at the centre and integrated water management in river basins primarily led by Environment Agency (EA) and the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Also distinctive features are water supply and sewage treatment service privatization that was completed in 1989 and the limited roles of local governments and the public (Kinnersley 1994; Hassan 1996; Rees & Zabel 1998; Bakker 2003). EA takes the lead to implement river basin management in England and Wales. Ten water supply and sewage treatment service companies in the river basins are undertaking water resources management works in cooperation with EA and other relevant regulatory bodies such as the Office of Water Services (OFWAT), and the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) (Balance & Taylor 2005). EA is the competent agency to deal with water supply, water quality control, flood management and environment protection. The agency, however, does not have any mandate to make a final decision on land use and planning, which is the responsibility of the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office (Tunstall & Green 2003; Interview 190705). This resembles the case that there is little cooperation between water management and land development plans by local governments in South Korea. Such challenge requires water authorities in South Korea to consider the preparation of institutional reform to combine water management with land use and planning. The political and administrative independence of economic regulator, the OFWAT and EA will be an example
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which a new mode of river basin management in South Korea has to emulate when the system encompasses privatization of municipal water supply and sewage treatment systems and needs regulatory authorities (Balance & Taylor 2005). A weak point in the system is stakeholder participation. The Consumer Council for Water is created as a public body to represent views and opinions from water users. This organization has been supposed to reflect what water users think about water services and demand service improvement to water companies and regulators. However, the evaluation outcome of the role of the council has not been positive, because their activities are not well publicly informed and contribution to water services seems to be very minimal (Page & Bakker 2005). Another example in relation to the weak stakeholder participation is that there is no legal mechanism to encourage local governments to collaborate with EA in terms of their land development projects. Because EA does not have any enforcement power to suspend environmentally unfriendly land development projects, some projects do not properly consider the impacts of projects on the environment including water (Interview 190705; Lee 2005). Water managers in South Korea should not make similar mistakes, and the new system has to introduce plausible institutional channels and adequate administrative and financial support for stakeholder participation.

France
The river basin management in France has been regarded as a successful system because of the roles of the River Basin Authorities (RBAs – Agence de l’eau), the River Basin Committees (RBCs) and local governments. The characteristics of the river basin management in France are: (1) financial independence of RBAs and subsidies to local governments; (2) multistakeholder participation through RBCs and (3) active roles of local governments in policy making (Barraque et al. 1998; Barraque 2001; Sangare & Larrue 2004). It has been noted that the central government has the National Water Council (NWC) to provide advice to the Prime Minister about water issues on an ad hoc basis and the Water Department under the Ministry for Ecology and Sustainable Development. But these organizations have not been able to have a large impact on river basin and local water management since the mid-1960s because of the decentralized political system as well as the political, administrative and financial independence of river basin organizations (Interview 130705). The most significant implication from the French case is that a prerequisite to implement river basin management
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is to transfer the political, administrative and financial power from the centre to river basins. Otherwise, river basin management cannot be led by river basin organizations but by ministries at the centre. The complex political situations in the 1960s in France paved the way for the central government to allow river basin organizations to levy and collect water taxes within the river basins (Barraque 2001; Interview 110705; Interview 130705). South Korea has to find a suitable solution to emulate the success of the French system. The financial independence of RBAs is a sound example for future RBAs in South Korea to secure an administrative and political independence from the central government. Another distinctive feature of RBAs in France is that RBAs have served as a mutual bank to provide subsidies to local governments in case local governments need to implement water projects. Such system has spawned favourable relationship between RBAs and local governments and has successfully achieved water management as well as land development thanks to the close collaboration between them (Barraque 2001; Interview 110705; Interview 130705). The RBCs in France encourage the active participation of local governments, water service companies, environmental NGOs and the general public on river basin issues (Betlem 1998). As noted above, the financial subsidies of RBAs have triggered the active participation of local governments in river basin management. Similarly, an allocation of relatively large number of seats to local governments in RBCs has helped local governments express their development-related concerns in relation to water issues (Barraque 2001; Interview 110705; Interview 130705). Such institutionalization of local governments’ participation can give a sound example for a Korean model in terms of stakeholder participation and integration of water management and land development issues.

New river basin management in South Korea
This section explores which policy options South Korea will have to consider in order to cope with the challenges in river basin management. The options will reflect the lessons from the England and Wales and French models and new ideas to overcome the current challenges. The necessary elements of the new river basin management include an enactment of Water Law, a set-up of the NWC, and an establishment of the RBAs and the RBCs (Lee 2005). One of the institutional priorities for river basin management in South Korea is to establish an adequate set of legal instruments. It is urgent to take into account enactment of water law that has been debated for years. The country has enacted a list of laws on water such as River

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Law and Municipal Water Law (KICT et al. 2003; PCSD 2004). However, there is no overarching law that encompasses fundamental philosophies in water policy and management and proposes goals and directions of water management. The Water Law in South Korea has to accommodate the principles of river basin management and propose new ideas to enhance the current fragmented management system. The good news is that the central government made a draft water law in August 2006 (MOCT and MOE 2006). On the one hand, this was heavily criticized due to the incompleteness that failed to embrace important general principles in water management and river basin management. On the other hand, the draft law was widely hailed in the water community, because that kind of law is very necessary at the initial stage of institutional reform (Kim 2006; Lee 2006; Water Forum Korea 2006). The draft law has not been endorsed at the National Congress and is still on the table as of December 2007. According to some senior water engineers in South Korea, it is difficult to expect the law to be in effect soon because of conflict of interests between MOCT and MOE. It is argued that the Water Law should come into effect as early as possible and be revised in order to make water management more efficient, and legitimize river basin management and provide political and institutional support in the implementation of the new system. An overall framework of river basin management has to accommodate what has been done under the auspice of MOCT and MOE and set up a series of new organizations in river basins. As an overarching central unit, an establishment of ‘the National Water Council’ has been considered. The major roles of the NWC will be to coordinate water-related works, endorse national water management plans and make decisions on various issues in water. The head of the council will be the Prime Minister, and major decisions in the council will be made collectively by a group of ministers. The council also includes the heads of the four RBCs RBAs and water experts. Such a wide range of stakeholders in the council will pave the way to establish water governance based on stakeholder participation (Hooper 2005). As an implementing body, ‘the RBAs’ are suggested in the four major river basins, and the branch offices of the authorities will be set up in smaller river basins. This is a new organization but takes over the tasks previously undertaken by the local land management bureaus and the flood control offices in MOCT and the four river basin environment offices in MOE. The major tasks of the authorities are: (1) to conduct water resources development and plans in river basins; (2) to issue water intake permissions and undertake water quality control and (3) collect water intake and pollution discharge fees as ‘Water

use charges’. The River Basin Fund, accumulated by water use charges, will be set up as a modified version of the previous ‘River Basin Management Fund’, and will help finance water projects by local governments which is similar with the French case. The budget and financial matters will be decided and audited by the RBCs. The heads of the RBAs and the RBCs participate in the NWC at the centre and play a pivotal role in reflecting river basin circumstances in national water management plans (Lee 2005). ‘The RBCs’ will be another core organization in river basin management together with the RBAs. The committees encourage a number of stakeholders to participate in decision making in river basins. The committee members consist of civil servants from local authorities, politicians, water experts, heads from diverse social associations, representatives of farmers, fishermen, and industries and environmental NGOs. The multistakeholder dialogues in the committees will be able to reflect diverse voices in society into policy making. The main tasks of the committees are to establish river basin plans in collaboration with RBAs, evaluate water projects in river basins, mediate water conflicts, and audit and manage water use charges and the River Basin Fund. The RBCs also take a part in the NWC together with RBAs and contribute to the establishment of national water management plans. The committees will serve to reflect the integrated management between water and land use in collaboration with local governments. In addition, the reflection of regional development plans by local governments in river basin plans will not only contribute to the enhancement of integrated management between water and land use but also improve ecological restoration and biodiversity in river basins. It is envisaged that there will be a number of obstacles to implement the new water management system in the current Korean context. Therefore, this research recommends the two evolutionary phases South Korea has to adopt. The first stage is to keep the current partial river basin management system, made up of the six local land management bureaus and the four flood control offices under MOCT and the four river basin environment offices under MOE. It is necessary to finalize enactment of water law soon. On the basis of the law, the NWC should be established at the central government and RBCs have to be created in the four river basins. The council will serve to mediate conflicts between different government bureaus in water management and to draw national water management plans. In the long term, the council will be empowered to take responsibility of drawing up the National Water Management Plan reflecting river basin circumstances.
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MOCT, MOE, MOAF, MOGAHA and MOCIE

National Water Council

Prime minister

Four River Basin Authorities

Four River Basin Committees

Local governments
Fig. 3. New river basin management in South Korea.

Local stakeholders

The second stage will come after testing the first stage in subsequent years, about 5–6 years. The second stage will complete a transfer of power in water management from the centre to river basins. RBCs will be set up and reinforced to bring in more stakeholders in society and accommodate diverse voices of water users by improving the limited participation of stakeholders in the current River Basin Management Committee under MOE and River Management Committee under MOCT. RBAs will take over the tasks of the local land management bureaus, the flood control offices, and the river basin environment offices. Figure 2 shows the ultimate form of river basin management in South Korea (Lee 2005). In Fig. 3, the bold arrows indicate that there is a direct relationship between organizations, and the dot arrows imply an indirect relationship between organizations.

after the previous bureaus under MOCT and MOE are amalgamated into these new river basin organizations. (4) RBCs and RBAs will eventually serve to achieve water governance, reflecting the opinions of the previously marginalized, such as local governments, ordinary people, environmental NGOs and water service providers. (5) The key to success of the new system in South Korea lies in creating an adequate model that all of the stakeholders agree with. This study suggests the step-by-step implementation of river basin management, because the new mode of water management in the country has to minimize social conflicts, accommodate diverse opinions in society and satisfy a variety of demands. (6) It takes time to transform from an old to a new system, which might spawn disagreements and conflicts between groups in society. RBAs in England and Wales and France have spent more than 30 years to become competent agencies in river basin management. (7) A few or 10 years might not be a long period in firmly establishing the river basin management system. It is imperative to continue to make an effort to create an appropriate Korean model of river basin management through trials and errors.

Acknowledgements
The research work was sponsored by the Korean 21st Century Frontier Project (Grant Code:1-0-2). The authors are grateful to Professor Tony Allan, King’s College London, University of London, UK, Professor Colin Green, Middlesex University, UK and Professor Bernard Barraque, ENPC, France, for their comments on the research.

Conclusion
(1) This research has discussed a new mode of river basin management in South Korea by assessing the current river basin management system and challenges since the 1990s. The study has also had an insight into river basin management in England and Wales and France as the benchmarking cases. (2) A new system has been suggested based not only on the new ideas to overcome the current problems but also the lessons from the British and French experiences. (3) The process to establish a new river basin management system in South Korea requires the two evolutionary phases. At the first stage, the most urgent element to be introduced is a water law. The new water management system cannot be sustainable without such legal foundation. At the central level, the NWC will be established as an overarching bureau to mediate conflicts on water between ministries, bureaus and local governments. At the second stage, the RBAs and the RBCs are established
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Interviews
Interview 110705 Mr Olivier Bommelaer, Seine-Normandy Agence de l’eau, Nanterre Prefecture, France, 11 July 2005. Interview 130705 Professor Bernard Barraque, ENPC, outskirts of Paris, 13 July 2005. Interview 190705 Professor Colin Green, Middlesex University and Professor David Hall, University of Greenwich, in Greenwich, UK, 19 July 2005.

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