ADB to Help Revive Vital PRC Coastal Wetlands

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is helping to revive key water sources and wetlands in and around Qingdao municipality in eastern People's Republic of China (PRC) that have been degraded by years of pollution and overuse.

ADB is extending a $45 million loan for the Qingdao Water Resources and Wetland Protection Project which will be used to build or upgrade wastewater, sewerage, and flood management facilities. The government of Jiaozhou city in the municipality — which suffers from serious pollution and flooding — will contribute counterpart funds equivalent to $60.8 million.

The coastal wetlands of Jiaozhou Bay are the most important marine ecosystem in the Qingdao coastal region, providing a breeding ground for many types of fish and shellfish, as well as a resting place for migratory birds. However, as the coastal population and economy grew rapidly, the wetland area has shrunk by an estimated 30% since the 1950s.

“The wetlands need to be protected as they play a key role in flood management and coastal protection which will be increasingly significant to coastal cities as sea levels continue to rise as a result of global warming,” said Zhang Qingfeng, Senior Water Resources Engineer with ADB’s East Asia Department.

The dumping of waste into rivers and a lack of proper drainage facilities have caused increasing bouts of flooding in and around Jiaozhou city, located at the head of the bay. Furthermore, wastewater and other pollutants that have contaminated water used by households pose a serious public health threat.

To address these concerns, the project will rehabilitate four river courses with improved flood protection works; expand a wastewater treatment plant and build additional sewerage lines to reduce pollution; and take steps to integrate water and ecosystem management to address the fragmented approach by government agencies that has undermined water resource management in the past.

“The initial results and lessons learned from these efforts to improve environmental management will be a good model for other city governments in the PRC,” Mr. Zhang said.

ADB is providing a technical assistance grant of $750,000 that will be used to reinforce the goal of protecting environmental condition in Jiaozhou Bay and preserving wetland areas by strengthening both Qingdao’s and Jiaozhou’s integrated planning capacities through the preparation and formulation of a strategic environmental assessment aimed at providing guidance for a comprehensive management plan in the entire Jiaozhou Bay areas.

The project will directly benefit about 370,000 people, while another 3 million people in the bay area will receive indirect benefits in the form of improved health and living conditions.

The expansion of the wastewater treatment plant will be carried out through a public-private partnership between the Jiaozhou city authorities and a private company under a 20-year build-operate-transfer arrangement, which ADB hopes could be replicated elsewhere and might help to catalyze further private investment in the sector.