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WB Lends to Improve Environmental Infrastructure in Small Towns

China Development Gateway, January 21, 2011 Adjust font size:

Today the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved a loan of US$100 million to the People's Republic of China to improve urban environmental infrastructure services in selected small towns in the Qiantang River Basin in Zhejiang Province through investments in the water supply, wastewater and solid waste sectors.

Zhejiang Province is located in the southern wing of the Yangtze River Delta and has experienced rapid economic growth in recent decades. The Qiantang River, known as the "mother river" of Zhejiang, is the province's largest river and a major water source for the cities and towns in the basin. However, Zhejiang's rapid growth and urbanization has put significant pressures on the water quality of the Qiantang River. It is estimated that only 62 percent of the monitored river water quality is meeting its stipulated quality standard Deteriorating water quality poses a serious threat to the living conditions and health of the local urban and rural residents.

Large cities in Zhejiang have made good progress in addressing urban environmental pollution which is contribution to the deteriorating water quality. However, small towns are significantly lagging behind. The Zhejiang Provincial Government has therefore begun to prioritize the development of environmental infrastructure in small towns, particularly in the Qiantang River Basin. Its specific targets for small towns are to increase, by 2020, service coverage for safe water supply to 100 percent; for wastewater treatment to 70 percent; and for sanitary solid waste collection and disposal to 90 percent. The Zhejiang Qiantang River Basin Small Town Environment Project aims to assist the government in achieving these targets and improving quality of life for the local population.

The project will cover 10 small towns in Zhejiang and finance construction of water supply treatment plants and distribution networks, waste water treatment plants with associated collection networks, and a landfill and a tertiary leachate treatment plant. Technical assistance will be provided to support project management and master planning for sustainable small town urban environmental infrastructure in Zhejiang Province.

"The project is part of a series of recent urban projects in the World Bank's portfolio in China which increasingly focuses on small towns, urban-rural integration and new countryside development," said World Bank's Senior Infrastructure Economist Axel Baeumler, and Task Team Leader of the project. "Small towns are the next frontier for extending infrastructure services and the project aims to assist Zhejiang in developing sustainable service provision models and approaches ."

The total project costs are US$216 million with the World Bank contributing about 46 percent.

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