|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The quality and availability of PRC's water resources is the most pressing resource bottleneck to the country's economic growth and environmental sustainability for the foreseeable future, and certainly over the next 10-15 years. The country's freshwater availability per capita is one of the world's lowest, which is further restricted because of increasing water pollution. In 2004, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (then the State Environmental Protection Administration) received reports of 67 water pollution incidents, which grew to 76 in 2005. The Songhua River chemical spill left around 3.5 million people temporarily out of access to drinking water and the government had to provide bottled water for domestic uses. In the PRC, more than half of the chemical enterprises concentrate in the Yangtze River Basin, which is affecting the water quality of the river in general and raises further risk of water security for cities along the river due to potential water pollution incidents. As a risk mitigation measure, the State Council requested the local governments to identify and develop secondary ('backup') water sources for emergency uses.
Jiujiang Municipality, the second largest municipality in Jiangxi Province and which lies along the Yangtze River, relies solely on the river for drinking water. The intensive upstream navigation and industrialization are significantly affecting the water quality and security of Jiujiang Municipality. Its rapid development process, which is critical for moving its economy forward, is stressing its freshwater resources. Various populations within and surrounding Jiujiang face precarious water and environmental security situations. Within Jiujiang municipality service area, about 10% of the service population is unconnected, which is equivalent to as many as 65,000 people. Outlying communities in the counties do not have sufficient treated, piped water supply systems or wastewater treatment infrastructure, yet these are a growing source of water pollution emissions. Demand for water increases exponentially, as urbanization, industrialization, and population growth rise in the municipality. When combined with climate change, its precarious water future becomes even more uncertain.
Considering the increasing risks of water pollution in upstream Yangtze River, the growing demand for water due to urbanization and industrialization, and the need for expanding water supply and wastewater infrastructure and services to the counties, the Jiujiang Municipal Government (JMG) has prepared a plan to explore a second water source to support the municipality's long-term development. This decision is presented in the Jiangxi Province Water Resources Management Outline (2011-2015) and Jiujiang Municipality Development Master Plan (2008-2020). Due to its large water volume and good water quality, Zhelin Lake has been selected as the second water source to supply water to counties located along the Chang-Jiu Industrial Corridor and in Jiujiang Municipality.
JMG plans to construct a weir downstream of Zhelin Lake to create an impoundment for water abstraction. Once the weir is constructed, substantial efforts on watershed protection will be made to ensure sustainable supply of high quality water from upstream Xiu River and Zhelin Lake.
The project design will incorporate lessons learned from ADB, the World Bank, and other donor programs relating to water resources protection and management, water supply, and wastewater treatment in the PRC. The project will also seek opportunities for public-private partnership. In particular, the project will introduce the following measures: (i) eco-compensation for Xiu River watershed protection ; (ii) water quality monitoring and early warning system; (iii) introduction of technical and nontechnical demand management measures for improved water conservation and environmental sustainability; (iv) identifying public-private partnership opportunities; and (v) water tariff reform.
The project is consistent with ADB's Water Operational Plan (2011) and will address the concerns of water security and environmental sustainability in the project area in the project design, which are: (i) satisfy household water security in all communities; (ii) support productive economies in agriculture and industry; (iii) develop vibrant, livable cities and towns; (iv) restore healthy rivers and ecosystems; and (v) build resilient communities that can adapt to climate change. The project is also in line with ADB's country partnership strategy, 2011-2015 for the PRC which supports the government's goal of building a harmonious society by promoting environmentally sustainable development.