The Project was classified as environmental category A under ADB's Environment Policy (2002) as its subcomponents are located in the Issyk Kul Biosphere Reserve, which includes several protected wetlands registered under the Ramsar Convention. As part of the project preparatory technical assistance an environmental impact assessment (EIA) was carried out for all subcomponents. Early in the environmental assessment process, relevant environment information was disclosed to likely affected people through stakeholder consultations, workshops, and focus group discussions. The summary EIA report in Russian was also disclosed by city governments and reviewed by SAEPF and its regional departments. News articles in local newspapers preceded the consultations, indicating the EIA content and availability with the city governments. Stakeholder comments from consultations were integrated into the Project. In accordance with ADB's Public Communications Policy (2005), the summary EIA was posted on the ADB website on 1 June 2009 to meet the 120-day disclosure requirement before Board consideration of the Project.
To ensure that the biosphere reserve is not affected, subcomponents have been suitably located. Location of sanitary landfills is critical. In Balykchy and Cholpon Ata, the project component sites are located in areas designated for improvement, and in Karakol, the project component site is in the transition zone.
An efficient, engineering design will mitigate any localized or temporary impacts. Impacts during operations will be mitigated through effective implementation of the environmental management plan. The following measures will mitigate key impacts.
Location. Buffer zones within and buffer strips with restricted development around sanitary landfill sites will mitigate moderate but permanent location impacts.
Construction. Good construction techniques, provision of standby equipment in case of power failures and disruptions, soil surface stabilization, and safe disposal of contaminated water and oil will mitigate moderate to severe impacts. The impacts are anticipated from groundwork and transport activities; exhaust, gas, oil, and fuel spills; and soil excavation and storage causing runoffs and soil-level alteration.
Seismic activity. Hydrogeological and geotechnical investigations will form the basis for designs, choice of materials, and construction methods to mitigate severe impacts through structural damage and sinking of foundations and soil.
Operations. Effective implementation of sludge management plans, occupational and safety plans, and emergency response plans will mitigate system operations impacts resulting from leaks, spillovers, and sludge disposal; windblown waste; gases emitted from landfills; and improper closure of existing dumps.
The state ecological expertise, complying with Kyrgyz Republic laws on environmental clearance, will be made mandatory before bidding. The independent ecological expertise will provide third-party quality assurance and ensure effective environmental management plan implementation; it will also address public grievances through the public ecological expertise process.
The environmental management and monitoring plan will be implemented by BRD and IDEP. IDEP will be directly responsible for mitigating and monitoring impacts during project design, construction, and operation. BRD will complement IDEP's activities through a parallel monitoring function and ensure that project activities comply with environmental regulations within the biosphere reserve. The Project will ensure both IDEP and BRD are adequately equipped and trained.The international environment specialist at the PIO will provide training to staff members on monitoring and mitigation activities and ensure that the plan is updated as required.