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Improvement of the River Water Usage Fee Scheme

Young-Ran Kim, Jung-Kyu Jin


The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport in Korea announced the “Water Resources Plan in 2016”, which is a plan to convert the river water usage system from a local government into a state-led management system for efficient use of river water. Under the revised plan, the river water fee management scheme currently made up of multiple local government programs will become a unified, country-wide government program. The main contents of the plan are to ① transfer of the right of collection authority to the country, ② change country problems related to exemption of fees on waterworks business, ③ adjustment of local water rights(the prescriptive water rights), and ④ adjustment of observed flow-based river water permissions.

However, due to the state-led management method of the river water usage system, the change in the system directly affects the local governments and local residents. In addition, there is a suggestion that it may be difficult for local residents to secure a stable life due to the imposition of river water fees, and this is not in line with the stated policy direction of strengthening local autonomy.


After comparing the research results in the related fields, it becomes apparent that it is necessary to unify the scheme under one agent in order to prevent conflicts and create efficiency in the scheme administration. In addition, it is necessary to adjust the prescriptive water rights in order to mitigate the occurrence of regional conflicts that may arise through the process of distributing the right to river water use. It is concluded that there is a need for the prupose of coping with climate and environmental change. In addition, a common opinion was expressed that river water fee exemption is contrary to the delegated legislative discretion.

On the other hand, there are divergent opinions as to whether river management should be integrated into central government of local government. In addition, since the non-profit nature of the water supply business is not clear, there are mixed opinions about whether or not to apply the river water fee exemption regulations equally in all cases. There are also conflicting opinions as to whether in adjusting the prescriptive water right, compensation should be made for losses due to infringement of rights.


A questionnaire survey was conducted to analyse the perception of the river water fee scheme for 1,500 citizens of Seoul who directly manage household expenses and 100 persons who are experts in related fields. As a result of the analysis, 52% of Seoul citizens and 55% of the experts answered that, first, the scheme values to be reflected firstly by the river water fee system are guaranteed basic rights of local residents. This response rate on this issues was the highest. In terms of the current value of the river water fee scheme, the rate of responding to the guarantee of local autonomy was the lowest (Seoul citizens 22%, the experts 15%). Therefore, it is necessary to secure the basic rights of local residents and improve the level of local autonomy. Sixty percent of the experts said that they should integrate the administrative bodies of river water system should be integrated into local governments. In addition, 72% of the experts said they should adjust or abolish their earnings. The reason for the response was that the equity problem of distribution of river water use could occur, according to 32% of respondents, and that regional conflict could occur(in the opinion of 32% of respondent). Seventy-nine percent of Seoul residents and 90% of experts answered that the waterworks business is non-profit. They responded with character of public interest(62% of Seoul citizens, 91% of experts) and business entity with public character (25% of Seoul citizens and 4% of experts). And 49% of Seoul citizens and 44% of experts responded that they should improve the law so that the water supply fee exemption regulations can be applied to waterworks businesses. And 49% of Seoul citizens and 44% of experts responded that the law should be revised so that the river water fee exemption regulations can be applied to waterworks businesses.


Based on the above analysis, we propose a method to improve the river water usage fee scheme so that the basic right and local autonomy of citizens are guaranteed. At the same time, we propose measures and rationale for system improvement to address the original function of improving the public interest.

In addition, we suggest five ways to improve the system

① Unification of local governments on the river water usage fee administration

② Application of current river water use distribution method as a permissible flow rate method considering local stream flow regime

③ Adjustment of the prescriptive water rights for a limited time in the drought season

④ Amendment of river water usage fee ordinance reflecting local conditions

⑤ Amendment of the river law regulations so that the river water fee is exempted for waterworks businesses



01 Introduction

1_Background and Purpose of the Study

2_Main Contents and Research Methods


02 The River Water Usage Fee Scheme and Operation Method

1_The River Water Fee Scheme Related Laws

2_The River Water Fee Scheme System Operation


03 Change and Issues in The Water Resource Plan

1_Main Contents of the Third Revision Plan

2_Key Issues of the River Water Fee Scheme

3_Meta-Analysis of Scheme Research


04 Recognition Analysis and Overseas Cases Study of the River Water Usage Fee Scheme

1_Surveyed the Expert and Seoul Citizen Recognition Analysis

2_The Overseas Case Study of the River Water Fee Scheme


05 Han River Stream Flow Regime Analysis and the Water Use Permission Basis Flow Calculation

1_Stream Flow Regime Analysis in Han River

2_The Water Use Permission Basis Flow Calculation in Han River

06 Improvement the River Water Usage Fee Scheme

1_Scheme Changes and Issues

2_Drafting Improvement Plans