|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
Located in the upper Qing River basin (a major tributary of the Yangtze River), the ETMAP has an ethnically diverse population of 4.01 million. Because of its mountainous terrain and lack of connectivity, ETMAP's per capita income in 2012 was only CNY10,327, which was about half of the provincial level; the poverty incidence is 40% in rural areas. The ETMAP includes two cities at district level Enshi and Lichuan and six counties, which are all designated as national poverty areas. In addition to poverty, water quality deterioration, riverbank erosion, and recurrent flooding are key factors undermining living standards and sustainable economic development in the ETMAP.
The Qing River is the primary water supply for Enshi and Lichuan and their surrounding rural populations. Since the 1990s, the water quality of the Qing River and its tributaries has deteriorated. Monitoring data show that water quality in 45% of all cross sections is class IV, V, or below, meaning it is unfit for human consumption. Water pollution is most serious in Enshi and Lichuan, resulting in odor and eutrophication. Continuing deterioration of the water quality poses a public health threat for local residents, who rely on the river for their water use. In addition, the degraded water environment threatens Qing River riparian and aquatic ecosystems, and limits opportunities for ecological diversity and tourism-related recreation.
The major sources of pollution are untreated domestic wastewater, unregulated runoff, and inadequately treated industrial effluent. As a result of prolonged underinvestment, wastewater collection and treatment facilities in Enshi and Lichuan are seriously deficient. Less than 60% of wastewater from Enshi and Lichuan is collected and treated because of the lack of treatment capacity, aging pipelines, and incomplete coverage of wastewater collection systems. This problem will become increasingly serious with economic development and rapid urbanization, as projected in the master plans for Enshi and Lichuan. Further, there are no facilities for collection and treatment of domestic wastewater and solid waste in rural areas along the Qing River and its tributaries.
Upstream of Enshi and Lichuan, the Qing River watershed is mountainous with high seasonal rainfall and rapid runoff. This, combined with inadequate flood management facilities, results in regular flooding. Following national flood management standards, flood management facilities in Enshi and Lichuan should provide protection against 20-year floods in the short term and 50-year floods in the long term. The existing facilities only provide protection against a maximum of 4-year floods. There are some revetments along the banks within Enshi and a mid-sized multipurpose reservoir on the upper Qing River. However, there are virtually no revetments or other flood control measures along the Qing River and its tributaries flowing through Lichuan. Since the 1950s, at least nine major floods have occurred, resulting in significant loss of lives and property. There has also been severe riverbank erosion as a result of high-intensity rainfall, loss of vegetation, and lack of revetment works. This has caused heavy siltation of the river and blockage in urban sections of the Qing River and its tributaries, which further exacerbates flood risk and water pollution.
Lack of integrated water resource management in the Qing River basin hinders a coordinated and effective response by planning, pollution control, and flood management authorities to improve water quality and reduce flooding. Weak interagency coordination and lack of monitoring and enforcement capacity have resulted in ineffective management of nonpoint source pollution from rural and urban sources. Important rural sources include discharges of domestic waste from unsewered rural households, agricultural runoff, animal waste discharges, and erosion of riverbanks during high-flow conditions. In urban areas, unregulated runoff along the riverbanks also contributes to nonpoint pollution, including garbage dumped along the riverbanks and inflow of wastewater due to leaks, clogging, and misalignment of wastewater pipes. While the river embankment is a critical flood management facility, proper maintenance of the banks would also help reduce nonpoint pollution.
Guided by both the national western region development strategy and the Hubei provincial 12th Five-Year Plan (2011 2015), the Enshi Tujia and Miao Autonomous Prefecture Government (ETMAPG) is committed to reducing poverty, improving the water quality of Qing River, and advancing the ecological rehabilitation of the river and lakes. The ETMAP is covered under the Water Pollution Control Plan for the Three Gorges Reservoir Area and the Upper Reaches, which is one of the national priorities for water pollution control. The provincial government has formulated and approved the Qing River Basin Pollution Prevention and Control Master Plan (2010 2020) and the ETMAPG has prepared the Qing River Near-Term Flood Control Master Plan (2013 2015), which was approved in 2012 by the Ministry of Water Resources. To implement and complement components of these plans, the ETMAPG requested that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) provide financial and technical support for water quality improvement and flood management in Enshi and Lichuan.
With support from the central and provincial governments, the ETMAPG has taken the following steps to implement the master plans: (i) incorporate water quality improvement goals in performance evaluation of local governments; and (ii) implement more than 30 projects with a total investment of CNY8 billion for sewage network improvement, solid-waste management, nonpoint source pollution reduction, river rehabilitation, and soil erosion control in 2014.
The project is consistent with the priorities of ADB's country partnership strategy, 2011 2015 for the PRC; the comprehensive reform agenda announced at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee; the strategic priorities of ADB's Midterm Review of Strategy 2020, and the Water Operational Plan. Environmental sustainability is one of the three strategic pillars of the country partnership strategy. The comprehensive reform agenda announced at the third plenum emphasized the need for better environmental infrastructure and the strengthening of institutional development and environmental services at the local level.