Building trust with water faucet inspection
The “Arisu Quality Verification System” allows citizens to request inspecting agents to visit their houses to verify the water quality in their faucets. The system helps people build trust in the water they are drinking and creates employment opportunities by being hired as inspecting agents. In 2008, Seoul adopted such service for the first time in the country. Since then until 2013, 3.6 million households have benefited from the service, with which households can get free water quality assessment on 5 indicators (turbidity, pH, iron, copper, and residual chlorine). In 2013, 320,000 households had their water faucets inspected; of these, 4.5 million houses found to be in need of improvement received proper support. Assistance measures include old pipe replacement (389 cases), drain valve and shift to direct water supply (50 cases), water tank cleaning service (11 cases), etc. As such, we provided support to upgrade the water supply environment and provide tasty, clean tap water. Starting this year, the inspection includes not only quality but also taste and odor.
Overview of the Policy
<< Every year, 300,000 households with low income and those whose tap water quality does not meet the basic guidelines receive free water quality inspection service.
<< Five basic indicators of tap water safety -- turbidity, ion density, iron, copper, and chlorine residue -- are examined to determine potability.
- In case the test results are not satisfactory, 7 additional items such as bacteria and colon bacterium are tested.
<< Citizens (non-public servants) are hired as inspecting agents who visit the inquiring houses.
There was general public mistrust -- mostly unfounded -- in the quality of tap water, and many were uncomfortable drinking it. To address this issue, we decided to implement the “Arisu Water Quality Verification System,” which allows citizens to check and evaluate the quality of tap water in their own homes.
Process of Policy Implementation
From 2001, we dispatched officials to conduct every year free water quality checks at 50,000 households that signed up to have their tap water tested. In 2008, in a bid to improve public perception of Arisu, we took a step further and implemented the plan to have all 2.6 million households in Seoul undergo free water quality checks by 2010. From 2011 to 2014, we have been expanding the service to 300,000 specially chosen households, mostly daycare centers, schools, and low-income families.
Details of the Policy
Every year, 300,000 households with low income and those whose tap water quality does not meet the basic guidelines receive free water quality inspection service
With the introduction of the service in 2013, 320,000 households underwent free water quality checks. Of those, 450 households were found to have poor-quality tap water; they receive assistance to replace worn-out pipelines in their houses (389 cases), eliminate small water tanks and switch to direct water supply (50 cases), and clean the water tank (11 cases). Beginning 2014, the inspection criteria were expanded to include water taste and odor.
Five basic indicators of tap water safety -- turbidity, ion density, iron, copper, and chlorine residue -- are examined to determine potability
Inspecting agents visit houses to check 5 indicators -- turbidity, pH, residual chorine, copper, and iron -- and explain the results clearly. When the quality passes the level, a “certificate” is given; when found to have poor quality, a sample is taken for further tests for 7 additional indicators: bacteria, coliform group, colon bacteria, ammonia nitrogen, zinc, manganese, and chlorine ion. We continue to take actions so that the quality of water used by citizens reaches the permissible level.
Citizens (non-public servants) are hired as inspecting agents who visit the inquiring houses
Citizens themselves participate in the program as inspecting agents who visit to check the tap water faucets. Such engagement enhances public trust in tap water and creates jobs as well.
• Citizens are hired as inspecting agents and trained on how to check water quality, how to handle civil complaints, and how to deliver quality service. After the training, they are dispatched to houses who inquired about the service.
• Quality check is done with both agents and users. When found poor, the quality is continuously checked until it passes the level.
• 1st testing: turbidity, ion density, copper, iron, and residual chlorine
• 2nd testing: bacteria, coliform group, colon bacteria, ammonia nitrogen, zinc, manganese, and chlorine ion
Know-how & Insights
First of all, the inspecting agents need proper training such as how to use the quality measuring device, provide excellent service, and have basic knowledge of the water treatment process and tap water in general. Second, there is a need to purchase water quality measuring devices that the agents will carry with them when visiting houses so that they can check the five indicators.
Policy Outcome & Evaluation
• 50,000 households (per year) that signed up received free water quality check.
• Free water quality check is provided for 2.6 million households.
• Free water quality check is provided for 1 million households.
Applicability of the Policy
First adopted in Seoul, the “Arisu Water Quality Verification System” is now being benchmarked by other municipalities such as Gwangju and Incheon. The Ministry of Environment benchmarked this program in 2014, and it has been adopting a similar service dubbed the “Tap Water Quality Check” program in all municipalities.
How do I apply to receive free water quality check at my house?
Simply call the 120 Dasan Call Center, an information hotline for inquiries on life in Seoul, by dialing 120 or visit http://arisu.seoul.go.kr and sign up for the free faucet quality inspection service.