I’m shocked, I tell you! Shocked!

President Lee Myung-bak’s signature project to refurbish South Korea’s four major rivers is seriously flawed, posing a threat to the environment and even threatening dams and other facilities built along them, the state auditor said Thursday.

The 22.2 trillion won (US$20.1 billion) project, aimed at enhancing the nation’s water management system as well as preventing the Han, Nakdong, Geum and Yeongsan rivers from flooding, was completed last year, despite mounting criticism.

The project, one of Lee’s campaign pledges, has been at the center of controversy ever since due to the possible adverse influence it might have on the environment as well as allegations of shoddy construction.

22.2 trillion won to build poorly constructed dams and worsen water quality. Brilliant.

President-elect Park Geun-hye’s people are talking about forming a committee to reevaluate the project after she takes office, leading some to speculate about tensions between Park and outgoing president Lee Myung-bak. I say Park can reevaluate all she likes, but most of the damage is already done, and all a committee can likely do is tell us how much more money we’ll need to spend to mitigate the harm.