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International Exchange

  • Drinking directly from the tap— a first step toward increasing Peruvians’ quality of life

  • International Exchange SMG 2838

    [Seoul’s Export of Urban Policy]

    • Seoul citizens enjoy safe tap water.
    • Arisu earns international water certification through strict water quality management.
    • Seoul shares technical expertise and injects KRW 1 billion in the form of ODA to improve waterworks facilities in Peru.
    • Improvement of old waterworks facilities has enabled Peruvians to drink tap water.

    Seoul citizens enjoy safe, cool tap water.

    Over half of Seoul citizens drink tap water, which is safe, cool, and readily available at the turn of a knob. This tap water has even been given its own name: Arisu. Arisu is a portmanteau comprising “ari,” the Korean word for “big,” and “su,” a Chinese character meaning “water.” It was also the name of the Hangang River during the Goguryeo Dynasty.

    Elementary school kids drinking Arisu Bottled Arisu


    Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) named the city’s tap water Arisu in February 2004. It also had an Arisu emblem registered on March 11, 2005, and filed a trademark registration application on May 29, 2008. Since then, the tap water drinking rate in Seoul has increased steadily. Not only have more than half of Seoul citizens started drinking Arisu, but according to a survey, the tap water drinking rate has exceeded the filtered water drinking rate.

    Arisu is trustworthy and reliable.
    The trustworthy and reliable Arisu tap water is now available to citizens throughout the entire city, thanks to the unceasing efforts of the Seoul Waterworks Authority (SWA). The SWA thoroughly and meticulously conducts water quality tests and monitoring across the entire system, from water sources to household faucets. It is also strengthening its water quality management of source water and purified water in order to ensure that the system is prepared for the possible inflows of pollutants caused by drought and algae.

    In addition, households can have the quality of their tap water tested by the SWA for free just by submitting an application. The tests are conducted across 170 items, far exceeding the 59 items required to satisfy the legal water quality standards.
    Also, the SWA publically discloses the results of water quality tests (turbidity, pH, and residual chlorine) at 90 faucet points in real time via the Seoul Water-Now System in order to ensure the transparency of its water quality management efforts. It has further strengthened its water quality management by expanding the total number of water source and intake points that are subject to water quality tests and monitoring from 29 to 33.

    The SWA conducts water quality tests across 29 items at water source points once a month and 147 items at intake points once a week. It also monitors the inflow of pollutants (water fleas, closterium ehrenbergii, and microorganisms) using a real-time biological alert system. Furthermore, it uses an automated system to conduct real-time water quality monitoring across nine items, including phenol, which is particularly harmful to humans.

    In recognition of its creative and thorough water quality management efforts, Seoul has received the UN Public Administration Service Award, and Arisu, which has been certified by the U.S.-based Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) and National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) in terms of safety, has earned international water quality certification.

    Arisu production process


    SWA conducts free water quality tests Implementing the Arisu Quality Verification System


    Seoul’s tap water expertise benefits Peru.

    In Seoul, clean and healthy water can be found anywhere, but elsewhere in the world, one child dies every 20 seconds from waterborne diseases caused by unsafe drinking water from inadequate water supply facilities.

    Waterborne diseases Waterborne disease-causing bacteria


    Peru is facing a difficult challenge regarding tap water quality and supply due to the country’s substandard water supply infrastructure and distinct dry and rainy seasons nationwide. During the rainy season, it rains so much that even tap water turns muddy; the filth in the water can even be seen with the naked eye. During the dry season, however, the water is clean, but the water supply drops sharply. In addition, Peru’s waterworks facilities, which were established 60 years ago, are falling apart due to a complete lack of maintenance. As a result, these facilities experience frequent failures, causing interruptions in the water supply.

    Drinking water directly from the tap becomes a reality in Peru.

    SMG has rolled up its sleeves to bring fresh, safe water back to the thirsty people of Peru. Specifically, it has completed the first phase of a project to improve waterworks facilities in Chanchamayo, Peru, fulfilling the people’s desire to drink water directly from the tap.

    Jung Heung-won, mayor of Chanchamayo, Junin Region, Peru (back row, middle) Location of Junin Region


    “Drinking water directly from the tap is a first not only in Peru, but also in all of South America.”

    This is what Jung Hung-won (68), mayor of Chanchamayo, Junin Region, Peru, said with regard to the San Ramon Waterworks Facility Improvement Project, which is the first phase of the larger Chanchamayo Waterworks Facilities Improvement Project. This project began with a request made by Chanchamayo Mayor Jung Heung-won, the first mayor of Korean descent in South America, when he paid a visit to Seoul Mayor Park Won Soon in May 2012.

    Mayor Jung requested a meeting with Mayor Park so that he could tell him about the substandard waterworks facilities in Chanchamayo and ask for help. In response, SMG dispatched experts to Chanchamayo to assess the situation, following which Seoul invested KRW 1 billion in the form ODA (official development assistance) for the construction of waterworks facilities in the city.

    Located in Junin Region (Departamento de Junin), Chanchamayo is divided into six districts—La Merced, San Ramon, Pichanaki, Perene, San Luis de Shuaro, and Vitoc—and has an estimated population of 210,000. Junin Region has an area of 44,197 square kilometers, or about 73 times the size of Seoul, and an estimated population of 1.3 million. It consists of nine provinces, including the capital of Huancayo, and 123 districts. The entire region is currently grappling with a serious water issue, including inadequate water supply infrastructure, aging of waterworks facilities, and frequent algae outbreaks due to river pollution.

    Accordingly, in 2015, SMG signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Peru’s Junin Region for exchange and cooperation in relation to water supply, and began promoting the Chanchamayo Waterworks Facilities Improvement Project. According to the MOU, the two sides are sharing their water supply policies, such as policies on the operation and management of water purification stations, and technical expertise and expanding exchanges through water supply policy training seminars.


    The main goals of the San Ramon Waterworks Facilities Improvement Project, which is being carried out with the aid of SMG, are improving the existing waterworks facilities and increasing the water supply. So far, the project has replaced three kilometers of old water pipes, stretching from an intake station to a purifying station, and expanded the daily water supply capacity from 3,000 to 7,000 tonnes.

    With the completion of the project, clean water is now being supplied to households in San Ramon, and public tap water facilities have been set up near a purifying station so that anyone can get water when they need it.

    The San Ramon Waterworks Facilities Improvement Project is the first phase of the three phases of the Chanchamayo Waterworks Facilities Improvement Project. The second and third phases are due to be carried out in 2018 in La Merced, a central district of Chanchamayo with a population of 23,000, and Pichanaki, with a population of about 75,000, the largest in the region.

    “Corea, Corea” chanted in Peru.

    Residents drinking tap water at a purifying station in San Ramon Cheering crowds chanting “Corea”


    Last year, when the first phase of the Chanchamayo Waterworks Facilities Improvement Project was completed, a ceremony was held at a purifying station in San Ramon, where clean, cool water gushed out of a faucet for the first time. The Chanchamayo citizens watching this cheered, chanting “Corea, Corea.” Banners with “Thank You Korea” written in Korean were hung, and some people were waving Korean flags. Clean water flowing out of a faucet is an everyday experience for Koreans, but it was an extraordinary event for the citizens gathered there that day.

    Most Koreans never think about how lucky they are to be able to drink clean water every day. But what would happen if our water were not purified? We would end up not only consuming all sorts of filth in the water, but also suffer from numerous diseases due to parasites. Now, the citizens of Peru will no longer have to worry about such issues.

    The improvement of the water supply infrastructure in Peru is expected to improve citizens’ quality of life as well as their health.