The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors approved three loans to China to improve the coverage, quality and efficiency of water supply and wastewater services, and adopt integrated pollution and watershed management in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangxi and Liaoning.
“Water scarcity is one of the most pressing challenges to China’s sustainable development. While water pollution imposes serious economic, ecological, and health-related costs, urban-rural gaps also remain in the coverage of basic water services. In addition, climate change impacts create uncertainties on the availability of water,” said Bekele Debele, World Bank Program Leader for Sustainable Development. “These projects will support the efforts of three Chinese provinces to adopt innovations and international good practices to improve water management and services, increase resilience to climate change, and ensure water security which is as one of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
Xin’an River and Qiandao Lake in east China’s Zhejiang Province are important water sources in the Yangtze River Delta region. They supply drinking water to several cities, while the water is also used to generate hydroelectricity and irrigate crops. Qiandao Lake, which means “thousand-island lake”, is a man-made freshwater lake formed after the construction of the Xin’an River hydroelectric station. The river and lake are facing increasing environmental pressure from the rapid economic development and urbanization, intensive agricultural production, and the growth of tourism. The main challenge is the large amount of pollutants being released into the river and lake from their catchments, mainly from agricultural and domestic sources.
The Zhejiang Qiandao Lake and Xin’an River Basin Water Resources and Ecological Environment Protection Project, financed with a World Bank loan of US$150 million, will address this challenge by promoting climate smart farming practices, environmentally sustainable forest management and integrated landscape management. The project will also support strengthening multisector cooperation in water resources management and ecosystem restoration, and inter-provincial collaboration in pollution control. Novel watershed management models will be applied, while payments for ecological services will be piloted in cooperation with The Nature Conservancy. The project will be implemented in Chun’an County and Jiande City, benefiting some 720,000 people including farmers, plantation owners and livestock producers.
Like many other provinces, Jiangxi Province in southeastern China faces an urban-rural gap in the provision of water and wastewater services. Only 65 percent of its rural population has access to piped water supply, and only three to five percent of rural wastewater is collected and properly treated, lower than the national average of 73 percent and eight percent, respectively.
The Jiangxi Integrated Rural and Urban Water Supply and Wastewater Management Project, financed with a World Bank loan of US$200 million, aims to improve these services by building and upgrading urban and rural water supply infrastructure and improving utility management. In water supply, the focus will be on the development and implementation of a Smart Water Supply Management system that combines modern technologies with strategic infrastructure to increase the reliability and quality of water supply and reduce costs.
In wastewater management, a comprehensive approach will be piloted. Comprised of a treatment plant, sewerage pipelines, and household sewer connections, the approach will demonstrate rural wastewater solutions that can be scaled in small towns and townships across the province and beyond. About 2.26 million people in seven counties in Jiangxi are expected to benefit from the project.
Liaoning Province in northeastern China faces multiple challenges of water scarcity, pollution, and inefficient utilities and water supply infrastructure. Its per capita water resources are only one-third of the national average, while the quality of the Liao River and other water sources is deteriorating due to pollution. Water loss is also a serious problem due to outdated water distribution systems.
The Liaoning Safe and Sustainable Urban Water Supply Project, financed with a World Bank loan of US$250 million, will improve water and service quality as well as the operational efficiency of selected water supply utilities. The project will reduce water losses and increase energy efficiency through the construction and upgrading of infrastructure, as well as improvements in water supply service management and the development of supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems. The project will benefit about 5.69 million people in five cities including Shenyang, Anshan, Fushun, Fuxin and Gaizhou.
Over the years, the World Bank and China have developed a strong partnership in the water sector to address policy and institutional issues, test new approaches, and also share experiences and examples from China with other countries.