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World Bank Helps Clean up China's Pearl River
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Yesterday the World Bank's Board of Executive Directors approved a loan of US$96 million to the People's Republic of China to help finance the Second Guangdong Pearl River Delta Urban Environment Project. The project will help reduce water pollution in the Pearl River system in Guangdong Province through a package of key initiatives, including wastewater treatment and sludge disposal, industrial pollution control and water quality monitoring, sediment removal from waterways, and flood protection and river embankment improvements. 

The Pearl River Delta (PRD) region in China's southern Guangdong Province is among the fastest growing regions in China, averaging nearly 14 percent per annum in recent years, mostly due to large inflows of foreign direct investment in manufacturing. Many parts of the PRD are largely devoted to export processing. However, the high economic growth in the PRD has come at a heavy environmental cost. Lack of proper treatment of industrial and domestic wastewater which is discharged into the river systems has led to serious deterioration in river water quality in the PDR region, and poses a serious threat to drinking water sources, including the drinking water supply to Hong Kong. It also renders the river system unsuitable for irrigation, aquaculture, and potential recreational uses. 

To address the problem, Guangdong provincial government announced a major plan to clean-up the PRD rivers in 2002. It is an eight-year campaign which will invest more than US$5 billion in the construction of wastewater treatment systems in cities and towns in the PRD region. 

"The World Bank is supporting this ambitious plan through a series of environmental initiatives in the Pearl River Delta region," said World Bank Urban Sector Coordinator and project leader Tom Zearley. "Our first PRD urban environment project was approved in 2004 and focused on financing wastewater treatment facilities and other investments in the provincial capital of Guangzhou, which is the biggest single source of pollution. This new project will include two additional PRD cities of Foshan and Jiangmen, which together generate about 15 percent of the pollution going into the PRD rivers. Through implementation of the project, we hope to reduce domestic source pollution entering the Pearl River system from the two cities, and thus deepen and extend the Guangdong provincial government's efforts to clean-up the PRD rivers."

In Foshan, the project will finance expansion of a wastewater treatment plant, construction of a centralized sludge treatment and disposal facility, improvements to river embankment for flood protection, and establishment of a water environment management information system and water quality monitoring facilities. It will also support staff training and a study of environment cost for GDP growth and "green" economic planning.

In Jiangmen, the project will help improve wastewater management through expansion of a wastewater treatment plant, construction of interceptors, secondary sewers, pumping stations, and sludge treatment and disposal facilities, and improvements in water quality monitoring system. The project will also provide technical assistance to enhance operational and business management capacities of the new Jiangmen Biyuan Wastewater Company.

The total project cost is US$188 million, and Bank finances US$96 million.

(China.org.cn March 22, 2007)

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