The environmental problems related to reclamation projects has been the social agenda in Korean society with the event of water pollution occurred under Lake Shihwa reclamation project. This paper describes and analysis the changes in the development of newly-created tidelands and the policy of environmental management by the water pollution in Lake Shihwa. Lake Shihwa, surrounded by Siheung, Ansan, and Hwaseong City of the Gyeonggi Province, is an artificial lake that had been created according to the Shihwa Regional Reclamation Development Project by the government. This region had been a target of the large-scale reclamation project since 1970s. In July 1986, the government decided to reclaim lands for agriculture and industry, and the project in its fullest scale was launched and has continued until now. The construction of a tidal embankment for creating Lake Shihwa started in June 1987 and finished in January 1994. However, after the construction, the influx of industrial waste and domestic sewage water drastically deteriorated the water quality of Lake Shihwa. The water pollution triggered social concerns about tidal flats and marine environment. In addition, it brought into social controversies and heated debates due to the negative side effects of reclamation projects. As a result, the development project and environmental management policy was changed. The development was affected by the environmental status of the lake and vise versa. In the context of development, the plan, constructing farmlands and industrial complexes around the lake, had been delayed and the contents of the plan like as developmental area, land use planning had been changed. In the context of environmental management policy, the government started circulating seawater to improve the water quality in 1997 and ultimately in December 2000, the government officially declared to renounce Shihwa as a freshwater lake. The social concern about the project rapidly decreased after the water quality of the lake was improved somewhat as a consequence of circulating seawater. But there are still ongoing development projects in the reclaimed lands of the lake watershed and these will have adverse effects on the water quality and the ecosystem around the lake. Therefore, considering the relation of development and environment, we need to prepare measures to solve possible environmental problems in advance.


lake shihwa, water quality, large-scale land reclamation project, environmental policy, marine environment, policy change


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