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WB to Help Reduce Urban Pollution in Han River Area

The World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved a loan of US$84 million on Tuesday to China to help reduce urban pollution generated from wastewater and solid waste through proper collection, treatment and disposal in selected second-tier cities, mainly located in the Han River area of Hubei Province.

Hubei Province in central China has a population of 60.5 million of which 26.5 million (44 percent) are living in the urban areas. The province ranks the 10th in China in terms of industrial gross regional product, focusing on such sectors as chemicals and fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, food processing, paper and ferrous metals.

Industrial pollution is a serious problem in Hubei with around 65 percent generated in the Han River area. The urban wastewater treatment rate in the Han River area is much lower than the provincial average of 23.5 percent due to lack of wastewater treatment facilities. Untreated wastewater contaminates groundwater and river system, posing a major threat to the citizen's health and the ecological environment. The water quality of the Han River is expected to deteriorate further after the start of South-North Water Diversion in the upper stream of the Han River in 2010. Furthermore, there is no sanitary landfill in the Han River area. Most of the municipal solid wastes go to dumps without protection from leachate contamination for underlying aquifers or local surface waters.

"The Han River Urban Environment Improvement Project aims to help address these problems and reduce the urban pollution generated from wastewater and solid waste through their proper collection, treatment and disposal," said project manager, Hiroaki Suzuki, Lead Operations Officer of the World Bank. "It is also intended to develop well-managed and sustainable municipal utilities which could be referred to as models/best practice for other similar projects or programs to be implemented elsewhere."

The project will focus on nine selected cities in the Hanjiang River areas - Danjiangkou, Dawu, Hanchuan, Honghu, Shayang, Tianmen, Xiangfan, Xiaochang and Yunmeng. It will finance the construction of new wastewater collection systems and wastewater treatment plants, new sanitary landfills and solid waste collection and transfer stations, equipment and closures of existing dumps. In the meantime, the province and project cities will implement the industrial wastewater pollution control programs with their own funds, including provincial-level program for installation of online monitoring at major pollution sources and specific industrial wastewater pollution control action plans for major polluting enterprises. The Bank will also provide technical assistance to strengthen the capacities of wastewater utilities and solid waste management organizations.

The total project cost is US$172.43 million with the World Bank contributing about 49 percent. Upon completion, the project is expected to benefit 2-3 million people through improved wastewater and solid waste services.

(China Development Gateway April 30, 2008)

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