The Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to provide technical assistance (TA) for Daguhe Groundwater Rehabilitation and Protection. In April 2013, an ADB mission visited the PRC and reached an understanding with the government on the TA's rationale, impact, outcome, outputs, cost estimates, implementation arrangements, and consultants' terms of reference. The design and monitoring framework is in Appendix 1.
The Qingdao municipal government requested support to prepare a comprehensive strategic planning study of groundwater resources in the Daguhe River area. Qingdao municipality depends heavily on Daguhe groundwater resources for its water supplies. These resources, which make up an estimated 17% of Qingdao's drinking water sources, are threatened by nitrate pollution from agricultural sources. The study will bring international good practices into the management and planning process for Daguhe groundwater uses, and it will be of great significance for controlling nitrate pollution, restoring the ecological environment, protecting groundwater resources, improving water supply capacity, and, ultimately, ensuring the safety of drinking water for Qingdao municipality.
|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
The PRC has been suffering the combined effects of extensive exploitation and increasing contamination of groundwater. Water scarcity has become a constraint on economic development and people's livelihoods in many areas. While detailed studies are few and data limited, it is generally agreed that groundwater resources are under threat and have already been polluted in many areas. The PRC draws groundwater heavily. A large proportion of the groundwater is used to irrigate the country's farmlands, and about 70% of its people in the northern regions are using groundwater for drinking. Rapid urban development and intensified agricultural activities have exacerbated pressure on groundwater resources.
On 10 October 2011, the State Council approved the National Plan to Protect the Safety of Groundwater Resources (2011 2020). This is an important step toward tackling water scarcity in the PRC. Along with overpumping and depletion of groundwater resources, groundwater contamination now poses a serious threat to people in the PRC. Overuse of fertilizers and large numbers of livestock in rural areas are key concerns. In many cases, nitrate and bacterial contamination exceed the natural absorption capacity and make groundwater unsuitable for direct human consumption. Studies conducted by Chinese research institutes indicate that, in many areas, 20% to 50% of applied nitrate fertilizer could reach the groundwater table and slowly accumulate to unsafe levels. Rural runoff containing fertilizer or pesticide residues has long-term impacts on groundwater quality, and no easy technical solutions are available to reduce such nonpoint pollution sources.
Qingdao City in Shandong Province is among the cities in northern PRC with serious water shortages. Rapid economic growth has significantly increased demand for water, which constitutes a constraint upon its future development. The Daguhe River Basin, the largest in Qingdao municipality with a catchment area of about 6,130 square kilometers (km2), is relatively small and surface water resources are insufficient and unreliable. The Daguhe groundwater resources constitute the largest and most reliable drinking water source in Qingdao City, playing a critical role in ensuring the safety of potable water for the city. Located in the lower-middle reaches of the Daguhe basin, the Daguhe groundwater aquifer lies about 50 kilometers from the urban areas of Qingdao City and covers an area of approximately 420 km2. The city is also developing at very high costs and energy consumption desalinization and large scale water transfers in an effort to ensure its supply.
The sustainable development and utilization of Daguhe groundwater resources are of great concern to the municipal government. As a result of extensive agricultural activities in the area and the limited control measures in place, pollution of the Daguhe aquifer is increasing. Nitrate pollution is the main concern, and the groundwater quality is deteriorating year by year. Significant efforts have been made to conduct a series of small surveys and research on hydrogeology, water quality, and environment capacity. Through these, extensive data on groundwater availability, quality, and environmental pollution sources have become available. This information, however, has never been systematically assessed and reported.
Responding to a number of serious groundwater pollution cases, including in Shandong Province, various national experts have recommended that local governments formulate and enforce strong groundwater pollution-prevention and protection plans backed by adequate financial resources, sufficient incentives not to pollute, and strong implementation of the existing regulations. The experts believe this is urgent, as potable water is scarce in the most populated areas and the PRC cannot afford the destruction of its groundwater resources.
The TA supports ADB's strategic priorities in the country partnership strategy, 2011 2015 for the PRC. It aims to promote environmental sustainability. It also supports the PRC's sustainable development agenda for a harmonious society, as outlined in the PRC's Twelfth Five-Year Plan, 2011 2015. Conservation of water and natural resources will be supported through assessing and planning adequate pollution control interventions and capacity development. The TA complements ongoing cooperation with the PRC on water resources management and pollution control, including the preparations of a proposed Shandong Groundwater Allocation and Protection Project.
The support is consistent with ADB's Water Operational Plan, 2011 2020 to (i) increase water use efficiencies across the range of users; (ii) embed integrated water resources management, including improved risk management to mitigate floods, droughts, and other water-related disasters; and (iii) expand knowledge and capacity development that uses technology and innovation more directly. The support will accelerate policy and institutional reforms by supporting enhancement of policy, legislation, and regulations; facilitating reform process; and strengthening institutional capacity and expanded knowledge base by promoting activities that produce new and innovative approaches, strategies, and technologies.