Seoul International Water Conference 2016


The Seoul Water Institute sponsored by the Ministry of Environment, the Korea Water and Wastewater Works Association, the Korean Society of Environmental Engineers, the Korean Society on Water Environment and the Korean Society of Water & Wastewater organized the annual conference in Seoul on 26 October 2016 with a follow-up for the foreign experts on the next day.


The meeting in Seoul was introduced by Dr Chung (Director-General Seoul Water Institute and the Seoul Metropolitan Government, Mr Kim (Director-General Water Environment Management Bureau) of the Ministry of Environment and Dr Lee of the Korean Environment Institute.



South Korea experienced a very hot summer leading to serious drought. Extreme weather events also produced serious flooding. Eutrophication turned surface waters into green ‘fields’ caused by algal blooms. So, in summary: too little, too much or too polluted water. Finally water infrastructure maintenance is a challenge too as the income from water sales is not sufficient for adequate maintenance. Water is relatively cheap in Korea and, actually, it is too cheap and without further change future generations will have to pay for the lack of necessary investments. Actually, this is no surprise as it confirms similar observations made by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) [1,2] and our own review on the challenges of water, waste and climate change in cities [3]. Risk communication is also an issue as the general public is not well involved and informed about the water issues. The image of drinking water in South Korea can be improved. Many presentations were about measuring micro-pollutants in water and drinking water and a detailed presentation was provided  on measuring algal toxins produced during algal blooms.

My own presentation was about the TTC approach covered in our book on risk assessment [4]. The presentation is certainly  also a tribute to my colleagues Professor Bob Kroes (Utrecht University) , one of the founding fathers of the TTC approach who passed away on 28 December 2006 at the age of 66, and Margreet Mons (KWR Watercycle Research Institute)  who died on 27 June 2016 at the age of 44. Margreet wrote the first draft of the TTC paper published in Water Research in 2014 [5].


On 27 October five foreign experts visited the main water-related institutes and facilities in Seoul. Representatives from the USA (Shane Snyder, University of Arizona), Germany (Dieter Bryniok Sys Water), Australia (Jon Pennefather, Yarra Valley Water), Taiwan (Tsair-Fuh Lin, TPE Cheng Kung University) and the Netherlands (Kees van Leeuwen, KWR Watercycle Research Institute). The first visit was to the office of Waterworks Seoul Metropolitan Government where a Question and Answer (Q&A) meeting was organized between the Direct-General (Mr Chung),the Deputy Mayor Mr Han and several other directors to discuss the important issues for Seoul: general distrust in the drinking water quality, the use of water purifiers at home, and the use of bottled water. There is some work to do in Seoul on drinking water reputation management and this is certainly not a technical issue only. All managers expressed their wish to learn from the expertise in the countries represented around the table. The next visit went to the Yeongdeungpo Arisu Water Purification Center. This was followed by a second Q&A meeting in the Seoul Water Institute. Issues here were of a more technical nature: algal blooms and detection methods, chemical analytical questions, water planning issues, asset management, by products of ozonisation.

On 28 October a meeting will be held to discuss the work on the City Blueprint of Seoul.


  1. OECD, 2015. Water and cities: Ensuring sustainable futures. Paris: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.
  2. OECD, 2016. Water Governance in Cities,  OECD Studies on Water, OECD Publishing, Paris. DOI:
  3. Koop, S. H. A. and Van Leeuwen, C. J., 2016. The challenges of water, waste and climate change in cities. Environment, Development and Sustainability, DOI 10.1007/s10668-016-9760-4.
  4. Van Leeuwen, C.J., Patlewicz, G.Y., Worth, A.P., 2007b. Intelligent Testing Strategies. In: Risk Assessment of Chemicals. An Introduction (2nd edition). Van Leeuwen, C.J. and T.G. Vermeire, eds. Springer Publishers, Dordrecht, The Netherlands, pp 467-509.
  5. Mons, M.N., Heringa, M.B., van Genderen, J., Puijker, L.M., Brand, W., van Leeuwen, C.J., Stoks, P., van der Hoek, J., P., van der Kooij, D. 2013. Use of the Threshold of Toxicological Concern (TTC) approach for deriving target values for drinking water contaminants. Water Research 47: 1666-1678.

Kees van Leeuwen, Seoul, 27 October 2016