|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Hubei Province is located in the south central region of the PRC, with Wuhan as the capital city. Huangshi is one of the major cities of the province. It is located in the south bank of the Yangtze River, about 70 kilometers (km) downstream of Wuhan City and belongs to Huangshi Municipality. The population of the municipality was 2.56 million in 2009, of which 813,000 live in the 62-square kilometer (km2) urban area of Huangshi. Huangshi has developed from the mining industries of local raw materials such as gold, silver, copper, iron ore, limestone, and coal. As raw materials became depleted some industries have closed down and the rest were relocated outside urban areas to mitigate their polluting effect. Huangshi's current master plan is focused on the development of the secondary industry such as textile and garments industries, and tourism. The present urban development takes place around the city's three lakes: Cihu lake (9.17 km2), Qingshan lake (0.48 km2), and Qinggang lake (0.7 km2), with a combined area of 10.3 km2. The lakes connect and discharge to the Yangtze River during flooding.
Huangshi faces serious challenges in urban environment. There was general neglect of urban pollution and large quantities of untreated industrial effluents and domestic wastewater are discharged into lakes and channels. The city's solid waste management system is not adequate and the sludge from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) is not treated. Channels are blocked with polluted sediments and accumulated solid wastes. As a result, the city's lakes and channels became polluted to unacceptable quality levels exceeding Class V in some areas, suffer from floods more frequently than in the past, and subsequently affect public health and safety. Poor environment also constrains tourism development and other urban economies.
To address a key ecological and urban development priority in Huangshi, the project will support developing and implementing a comprehensive urban pollution control by establishing integrated wastewater treatment system and rehabilitating lakes and channels. The combined measures of reducing pollutants through integrated wastewater system and improving hydraulic circulation through lakes rehabilitation will allow for restoration of the lakes' retention capacity to mitigate climate change impacts and increase the city's resilience to natural disasters. By re-establishing the connection between the lakes and the Yangtze River, the project will contribute to a national policy, supported by the World Wildlife Fund, in restoring the complex network of lakes along the Yangtze flood plain. By improving the urban environment, the project will also contribute to the city's inclusive growth, particularly the development of secondary and tertiary industries including tourism, and associated employment opportunities. It will consequently support balanced regional development in Hubei province by releasing the demographic pressure of Wuhan and mitigating the social and environment challenges faced by the capital city. The project will contribute to poverty reduction and will give positive social and gender impacts on local residents.
The project will also tackle a new environmental challenge of increased sludge to be generated from wastewater treatment expansion and lake dredging and rehabilitation operations. At present, untreated sludge is disposed of directly to the municipal landfill. The project will identify and implement feasible and sustainable options for sludge reduction and stabilization, including digestion and beneficiary use, considering the design solution of ongoing ADB projects in Wuhan. Further, the project will examine possible private sector participation in investing or outsourcing of Huangshi Municipal Government's (HMG) urban services, wherever possible.
The project supports the PRC's country partnership strategy (2008-2010) promoting efficient urban infrastructure, strengthening environmental management, supporting inclusive growth, and well balanced development. By developing an integrated approach for urban environment, pollution control and surface water management, combined with a feasible design solution for sludge treatment reflecting lessons from Wuhan, the project will contribute to establishing Huangshi City as a model for sustainable economic development in the PRC's medium-sized cities.