The project aims to promote environmentally sustainable and socially inclusive urbanization in Huanggang, Hubei Province by improving the urban environment. The project will improve the lakes and rivers' water quality, flood-retention capacity, and aesthetic value contributing to economic prosperity and enhanced livability in the lakeside urban areaemployment opportunities.
Huanggang is located on the north bank of the middle reach of the Yangtze River in eastern Hubei Province, 78 kilometers (km) from the provincial capital, Wuhan. Building on a rural-based economy, Huanggang is one of the poorest municipalities in the province and has a relatively low urbanization rate of 35.7%. The Huanggang municipal government (HMG) in its Twelfth Five-Year Plan, 2011 2015 targets to transform its economic structure and facilitate urbanization with expanded secondary and tertiary industries. Huanggang is well positioned to take advantage of national and regional development plans due to its proximity to Wuhan; good connectivity with neighboring cities and provinces; and rich historic, cultural, and human resources. Huanggang has the potential to play a strategic role in facilitating socioeconomic development in the central region of the PRC. This is envisaged under the national plan. Furthermore, Huanggang is part of the Wuhan 1+8 megacity cluster, which the PRC government endorsed as a pilot for balanced regional development in the province.
Huanggang is on a floodplain, with many lakes and rivers. Protecting the water environment and controlling water pollution in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, the largest of the seven river basins in the PRC and also the source of a high amount of wastewater, is a key government strategy. One of the urban development constraints of Huanggang is the deteriorating water quality in lakes and rivers, which are silted and blocked with polluted sediments, hindering natural hydraulic circulation, further degrading the water environment and ecology, weakening resilience to floods and droughts, and adversely affecting public health and safety. Huanggang's three major urban lakes Baitan, Chiye, and Yiai are severely polluted with organic matter and nutrients. Much of the surface water quality is currently measured as class V or worse. Realizing the importance of improving water quality for the city's sustainable development, HMG has made plans and increased investments to control pollution at the source and to improve the environment. To date, HMG investment has focused on improving water quality in Yiai Lake in the existing urban area, leaving other lakes and rivers unattended.
Limited urban space also constrains the development potential of Huanggang. The existing central urban area in Huangzhou District is dense and inadequate for increasing economic activities. Limited urban space and inadequate urban infrastructure has slowed economic development and delayed the urbanization process, resulting in Huanggang becoming sidelined from mainstream developments in the province. To address this constraint, the approved Huanggang Municipal Urban Master Plan, 20122030 provides for eastward urban expansion by developing the New Eastern District (NED) with adequate urban space, infrastructure, and services; and an environment-friendly and socioeconomically inclusive setting to support sustainable urban development and rural urban transition.
Baitan and Chiye lakes and seven associated rivers are in the center of NED, where HMG's pollution control interventions have not yet reached. Nutrient-laden sediments from agricultural and fish farming have reached levels that affect the lakes' water quality and hydraulic retention capacity. The seven rivers are blocked due to sediments from erosion of unlined banks reducing their drainage capacity. The increased urban development will create more impervious surfaces, resulting in an increase in surface water runoff. HMG is currently improving point source pollution control in NED. The project will complement these interventions, focusing primarily on nonpoint source pollution control. It will adopt an integrated approach to water quality and retention capacity enhancements of the lakes and associated rivers by removing contaminated sediments, constructing wetlands, stabilizing lakes and rivers embankments, and improving hydraulic recirculation. As a result, water quality of Baitan and Chiye lakes will improve from class V to class IV, flood protection will increase, and the lakeside aesthetic and amenity value and health benefit will significantly rise.
As part of the project's capacity development component, a water quality monitoring and forecasting system for the upstream Xingfu River catchment and Baitan and Chiye lakes will be developed and used by the Huanggang environment protection authorities for systematic and continuing water quality management. The system, which will be based on the hydraulic and water quality model developed during project preparation, has great replication potential. It can be disseminated as a good practice in sustainable pollution control and ecological preservation applicable to polluted and blocked urban lakes in small and medium-sized cities along the Yangtze River, and elsewhere in the PRC
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
||The project is not a stand-alone investment but plays an integral part of the Huanggang Municipal Urban Master Plan by significantly improving water quality in Baitan and Chiye lakes. The capacity building and institutional strengthening component will add value to the implementation of the master plan. Project design incorporates lessons from Yiai Lake rehabilitation, a recent locally funded initiative, and other Asian Development Bank (ADB)-supported lake and river restoration projects in the PRC. The project design incorporates best international practices: (i) the need to take an integrated approach to water system rehabilitation, and (ii) the importance of using simulation techniques to predict likely outcomes. The project will complement past and ongoing projects that are contributing to reducing pollution in the Yangtze River. Since the drinking water intakes of several cities are downstream from the Yangtze River, the project also contributes to the protection of the vital drinking water source. The project supports environmentally sustainable and inclusive economic growth that is a priority of ADB's Strategy 2020. The project aligns with ADB's country partnership strategy, 2011 2015 for the PRC; ADB Urban Operational Plan, 2012 2020; the Green Cities initiative; and ADB Water Operational Plan, 2011 2020, which encourages integrated water resources management particularly in river basins. It will support economically and socially inclusive urbanization and rural urban transition in Huanggang and contribute to balanced regional development in the PRC and in Hubei Province, thereby supporting the PRC's Twelfth Five-Year Plan, 2011 2015. The project builds on ADB's experience from urban projects in Hubei Province and in the PRC.