“We had no choice but to cover drainages due to severe smell from the sewer in the summer.”
This is what the 40-year-old owner of a Korean restaurant in Shinchon had to say to The Dong-A Ilbo on Sunday. The drainages on roadsides in front of the restaurant were seen covered with rubber plates, and rainwater could not be drained. “We were aware that there was torrential rain last week, but we kept the rubber plate intact because our village was not significantly affected,” the owner said.
The recent extreme rainfall in the central region including Seoul caused severe damage from flash floods, but drainages are not being properly managed even after the disastrous flooding. Experts say proper management of drainages alone could significantly reduce damage from flooding on streets.
An inspection by The Dong-A Ilbo’s team has revealed on Sunday that many of the drainages in city centers, including Gangnam, Seocho, Jongno, and Shinchon, are blocked with trash or covered with lids, and thus are not functioning properly. A drainage near Meokja Golmok near Jonggak Station in Jongno was filled with various forms of trash. “If trashes including cigarette butts combine with methane gas and moisture, chemical reaction occur to bond them together, and this ends up blocking the drain,” said Cho Won-cheol, an emeritus professor of social environment system engineering at Yonsei University.
Some experts say the city should increase the number of drainages in areas that are frequently flooded. When Dong-A reporters visited that Seocho area that suffered heavy flood damage, there were a total of 13 drainages on the 1.3-kilometer section between Seoul Arts Center and Seocho Station on Subway Line 2, with drainages placed at an interval of 34 meters on average.
The Environment Ministry has a regulation that requires drainages to be installed at every 10 to 30 meters but allows them to be placed at every 10 meters in frequently flooded areas. “Installing more than 10 drainages at every several meters can be a good measure to prevent damage in frequently flooded areas,” Prof. Cho said.