|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The PRC Government is accelerating its support to organize the development of the country's small- and medium-sized cities. The country's macro urban strategy aims at rationalizing the unbalanced urban structure at all levels of the urban hierarchy, which currently provides a weak base for supporting a sustainable and inclusive development. One of the main approaches is to promote the rapidly growing medium-sized cities, which have the potential to drive a sustainable and inclusive urban development. They can benefit from economies of scale and clustering of local economic activities without the cost and inefficiency associated with big cities, and play a key role in reducing the gap between rural and urban areas.
The proposed project will continue these efforts by targeting Baishan and Baicheng Cities' two prefecture capitals located in the poor and remote southeast and northwest regions of Jilin Province. The lack of investment in infrastructure, combined with continuous in-migration from surrounding countryside and small towns threatens cities' environment, restricts urban development, and reduces cities' attractiveness as destinations for economic activities. Promoting their growth in a sustainable manner is a key challenge to balance the development within the province, provide good livelihood to their growing population, and allow local work force to find a job instead of migrating to Changchun. Solid waste management, water supply, and urban roads are the major urban infrastructure needing urgent attention in the two cities.
Daily generation of municipal solid waste (MSW) has reached 480 wet tons in Baicheng and 350 wet tons in Baishan. Due to poor performance of the existing landfill in Baishan, an open dump site is currently used without any environmental controls, causing soil and groundwater contamination. In Baicheng, the current landfill is lacking operation and management capacity, and is reaching its designed capacity. The cities are lacking sound waste collection system, leading to the occurrence of several small dump sites within the urban area, contaminating the surface and ground water. Plastic bags coming from the landfill can be seen all around the town and surrounding countryside of Baicheng. There is also no systematic waste sorting, collection of landfill gas, and no attempt to reduce, reuse, or recycle the MSW. Both cities have new sanitary landfills, but they are non-operational or not completed due to lack of funds.
Water in Baishan is supplied by surface water (Qujiaying reservoir) sources with a current capacity of 60,000 cubic meters per day (m3/day) and shallow groundwater sources of 24,000 m3/day capacity. However, the water scheme is inadequate to serve the population demand and cannot ensure a 24-hour water supply service. The Qujiaying reservoir water supply facilities are outdated and need to be urgently rehabilitated. Further, the water supply system is suffering from very high non-revenue water (NRW) level of 70%. The existing groundwater extraction facilities are currently treating increasingly polluted water due to mining activities and urban expansion, and cannot meet the drinking water standard. Phasing out the groundwater extraction is a recognized priority. Xibeicha reservoir has been identified as a suitable alternative water source but funds are needed to build the required water treatment plant to meet the projected demand of additional 40,000 m3/day.
Due to lack of road infrastructure in Baicheng, (i) the city center is not properly connected to the economic/industrial districts; (ii) residential areas have been constructed without proper road connection to other parts of the city; and (iii) population is settled into newly developed residential buildings along former county roads that are not equipped with proper municipal infrastructure network, and are not connected to basic municipal services. Further, lack of connectivity with municipal services leads to a very low wastewater collection rate. Currently, it is estimated that 100,000 residents (around 1/3 of the city) are not yet connected to the central wastewater treatment plant, leading to the low wastewater collection rate of 65%. This is adversely affecting economic activities and quality of life in the city.
The following special features will be explored in designing the proposed project components:
(i) Innovative integrated solid waste management. ISWM, based on the international waste hierarchy, will be developed with the demonstration potential for promoting waste minimization, beneficiary reuse, and safe disposal. The project will promote the first ISWM system for medium-sized cities in the PRC. It will follow the Twelfth Five-Year Plan guidelines in terms of sustainable management of the MSW. Based on these requirements, the project will (i) develop a 10-year ISWM roadmap in each of the two cities, incorporating best practices in waste management, and integrating classification, transfer, treatment, and disposal of the waste; (ii) rehabilitate and extend the existing sanitary landfills; (iii) maximize the 3R principles, support solutions for climate change mitigation, beneficiary reuse, and energy recovery from the waste; and (iv) promote service full cost recovery, private sector participation, community participation, and public awareness campaign.
(ii) Best practices for efficient water resources and asset management in Baishan City. This will support ADB water sector priorities and best practices. The project will identify the main commercial and technical causes and implement a NRW reduction plan to reduce NRW from 70% to 30%. This will save water resources and generate additional revenue, enhancing the financial viability of the water scheme and lessening its impacts on the environment. Over a number of years, concerns have been raised regarding the quality of both ground and surface water in the PRC. Identifying risks and control measures will help define actions and investments that would be incorporated in the project design to bring supplied water toward the required quality standard and minimize the risks to public health. Finally, the project will promote tariff reforms, improved corporate governance and private sector participation, including public-private partnership.
(iii) Road design and urban planning improvement in Baicheng City. The project will support (i) green city specific features, such as energy efficient pumping system in the associated water and wastewater network, efficient lighting, and the inclusion of renewable energy features; and (ii) road and urban network design optimization, improved traffic management, public transportation (bus priority lanes), road safety features, private sector participation through performance-based contractual arrangements in public transport, and non-motorized traffic. By improving the overall city logistic function and opening new urban areas, the project will support Baicheng City in the improvement of urban planning and development.
Strategic fit. The proposed project supports ADB's Strategy 2020 goal of livable and sustainable cities through creation of a cleaner and healthier environment. It is aligned with ADB's country partnership strategy strategic pillars to support inclusive and environmentally sustainable growth by promoting growth oriented and resource efficient urbanization. It is also in line with both ADB urban strategic focus in the PRC and the government's Twelfth Five-Year Plan as it supports balanced urbanization with the development of cities that are livable, resource conserving, and inclusive. It also directly supports the main thrust of ADB's Urban and Water Operation Plans by promoting well conceived urban development, green city, efficient water, and asset management. The solid waste component will be linked and benefit from TA 7002-PRC key recommendations and similar experience developed in Wuxi City.