Friday, July 9, 2010

Water Quality

Have you received a brochure like this in your mailbox recently? If so, you can expect a visit from the friendly water inspection folks in the near future.

I had no idea what this pamphlet was, and never bothered to ask the boyfriend, so when two women with name tags showed up at my door, I thought they must be Jehovah's Witnesses. Of course, when they saw me, and not a Korean, they were a bit startled too and fumbled to pull out a smart phone with an English language demo of what they were going to be doing. One woman actually had the sense to ask me if I spoke Korean, and then tried her best to explain what they were doing. I didn't get much out of it, but I knew it was something to do with the sink and water so I let them in. They spotted this pamphlet sitting on top of my microwave and excitingly started pointing to it and trying to show me... but... alas, it was all in Korean with almost no pictures beyond the friendly looking water droplet on the cover and happy people drinking water.

By this time the other woman had the smart phone ready for me to listen to an explaination of what they were checking. While I listened, they checked the water. When they were finished, they gave me this report. I was curious, so I looked up in the dictionary what they checked... since water quality used to be my specialty back in my Environmental Science days.

잔류염소- chlorine
pH- pH (that was a big mystery)
철- iron
구리- copper

I tried to translate the stuff at the bottom, but Google translate is failing me at the moment and my human dictionary is at work at the moment.

Everything was well within range, as expected. It's not surprising that they're only testing inorganic things here, but I'd be interested in how much organic material I'm consuming in the water here. Pesticides and other runoff that makes their way into the Han River probably aren't good for me either. Of course, tests for those sorts of things are I would imagine more expencive and less portable.

In any case, I feel confident enough about drinking the water here, though I generally stick with bottled water anyway.


  1. You might be interested to read this radio interview about Bottled water and the damages it causes to the environment.

    It generally talks about how we should support tap water. Whether you agree or disagree it was an interesting show.

  2. I meant listen to and not "read" ooops....><

  3. Oh, I've heard many arguments against drinking bottled water. Drinking tap water, as long as its safe, eg in America or in Korea or in other developed countries, is definitely the better, environmentally friendly option. Drinking water from a bottle doesn't gaurentee that it's cleaner or safer, regulations are much stricter on tap water than botteled water. Should I drink tap water? Yes. Will I? hmmmm... only in a rut. Why? I don't know.

    I've been thinking about the environment more lately and I want to start writing some more posts to dedicated to the topic soon. I'd like to get in touch with my old environmental self.

  4. I gave a speech on this at Toastmasters.

  5. I had a similar inspection - the pair of Korean ladies seemed unable or unwilling to speak in English... It's nice that the government is trying to reassure the public that the water is clean, but these inspections (I don't think, at least) are the answer. SOMETHING in our water is turning it brown, yet it passes the tests... Sounds like selective testing, or not very rigid testing, or setting the bar very low...

  6. Turning the water brown, you say? I've never had that experience here... I wonder if there's a local problem in your neighborhood? Sounds terrible...

  7. I taught in Mapo-gu last year, and I remember my 1st graders talking about a case where a man in Mapo had died, and the cause had been traced to the water quality. Others argued back, saying that studies had been released that said Mapo had the best water quality in Korea. I never did figure it out, but I did stop drinking tap water afterwards when I realized that nobody does...