Over the past 40 years, the public sector has continued to invest in the sewage treatment plants (STPs) in Korea. Currently, the domestic sewage treatment rate is over 90% with the enhancement of operating efficiency of the STPs, and water quality of major rivers has been continuously improved. However, COD and T-N indicators are stagnating or slightly worsening, and though advanced treatment facilities are installed in most of the STPs, there is a limit to the removal of nutrients. Since there are a lot of water pollution sources in the vicinity of the watershed because of high population density in Korea, it is essential to reduce the inflow of the nutrients in order to prevent the eutrophication of the rivers and lakes. While the effluent T-P standard in STPs has greatly strengthened since 2012, which results in the considerable investment for the improvement of treatment process in STPs for the last few years, it is necessary to strengthen the T-N standards, as the effluent standard of T-N has been maintained at 20 mg/L since 2002. In this study, based on the analysis of the effluent T-N standard status of major industrialized countries, and the domestic nitrogen load in public waters, the option of appropriate T-N standard level is reviewed, and the required investment costs and the effect of strengthening the standard are estimated.
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