|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The PRC has a total of about 85,000 reservoirs, out of which about 5,500 reservoirs (33 large, 156 medium-sized, and about 5,300 small) are located in Shandong province. Approximately 90% of the reservoirs were constructed from 1958 to 1976 during the period of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. At that time, reservoirs were constructed very rapidly, using outdated and low technical standards with inadequate plan, survey, design, and construction. Most of these existing reservoirs have been used for 30 to 50 years; and many of the water-retaining dams and equipment are damaged and need to be repaired and strengthened. Many of these reservoirs do not meet the present-day technical standards for safety. As a result, since 1973, a total of 254 reservoirs have collapsed and killed about 50 people in Shandong province.
In accordance with the Ministry of Water Resources!| (MWR) criteria, reservoirs fall into three categories based on safety status. In Shandong province, about 4,000 reservoirs (24 large, 113 medium-sized, and about 3,900 small)?oequivalent to about 70% of the total, which is much higher than the national average of 36%?oare under Category III. Category III reservoirs have much higher failure risks, and could threaten people!|s life and property downstream.
Reservoirs in the PRC play a major role in flood control, irrigation, hydropower generation, and water supply. The design of many reservoirs was based on the hydrometeorology of the watershed and downstream water demand. Currently, however, many endangered reservoirs could not store water up to the designed level due to leakage, instability of water-retaining dams, and lack of adequate spillway capacity for emergency discharge of rapidly rising floodwaters. As a result, these endangered reservoirs are inadequate to control floods, supply irrigation water, generate hydropower, and provide year-round domestic water to the population.
Strengthening the existing reservoirs has the potential for increasing water supply at a lower cost and with less adverse impact on the environment and people, compared with constructing new reservoirs. When water is properly priced and managed, revenues will be enhanced and used for reservoir operation, maintenance, and management. Strengthened reservoirs will also have positive benefits downstream?oespecially on the environment. Reservoir releases, especially in the dry season, will also provide water for sustaining wetlands, maintaining fisheries, preserving water quality, and improving the much needed groundwater.
Under the PRC's 11th Five-Year Plan (2006!V2010), the PRC Government is giving high priority to strengthening endangered reservoirs. MWR formulated a national program to advance reservoir strengthening at the provincial level with financial assistance from the Central Government. A total of 137 Category III reservoirs (24 large and 113 medium-sized) in Shandong province have been included in the national program. Strengthening works of nine out of the 24 large, and 19 out of the 113 medium-sized reservoirs have been completed.
While there has been progress in implementing reservoir strengthening, the overall implementation of the program is slow in Shandong province because of inadequate funding. The Shandong Provincial Government (SPG) has requested a loan from ADB to complement local counterpart funding to help accelerate reservoir strengthening. ADB's assistance will also enable Shandong province to access international expertise and experience in reservoir risk mitigation and strengthening.
The proposed Project will contribute to integrated water resources management by restoring reservoirs!| functions originally designed for flood control, irrigation, water supply, and hydropower generation, and therefore, is in line with the priorities of ADB!|s water policy in promoting integrated water resources management. The proposed Project is also in line with the CPS, which prioritizes environmental sustainability through more effective natural resources management, and supports the Government!|s objectives in the water sector.
The proposed Project will have a direct positive impact on poverty reduction for people living downstream of the reservoirs, since it will (i) mitigate potential failure risks of the reservoirs and protect the lives, property, and livelihoods of the poor, who usually are the majority of the population living downstream; and (ii) provide more water for agriculture, aquaculture, and domestic use to the poor living downstream of the reservoirs.