Jiaozhou is a county-level city under the administration of Qingdao Municipality on the northwest coast of Jiaozhou Bay in the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Rapid urbanization and industrialization in the city began in the early 2000s. However, the development of municipal facilities could not meet the demands of economic and demographic changes, resulting in poor municipal services and negative environmental impacts in the city as well as Jiaozhou Bay. To help address the challenges and assist the Jiaozhou City Government (JCG) in meeting its environmental protection and improvement objectives, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a $45 million loan for the Qingdao Water Resources and Wetland Protection Project in December 2008.
The project’s envisaged impact was improved quality of life, sustainable ecosystem, and biodiversity conservation in the Jiaozhou Bay area. Its intended outcome was improved condition of water resources and the environment in Jiaozhou City and downstream wetland areas. Four outputs were expected to deliver the project’s planned impact and outcome: (i) improved water and flood resource management, (ii) strengthened wastewater management and pollution control, (iii) integrated water and ecosystem management, and (iv) strengthened project management capacity.
River dredging, embankment works, and greening were carried out on 18.4 kilometers (km) of the banks of four rivers—Yunxi, Hucheng, Wushui (Shidong Canal), and Sanli. A river monitoring and administration center was built, complete with a monitoring system that provides water quality and real-time river flow data to support the operation of control gates for flood prevention. Flood retention facilities were upgraded, and interceptor sewers were constructed along river embankments.
Two artificial wetlands—the Erli’he River Southwest Wetland Park and the Yunxi River Wetland Park—were established with project funding, and these have contributed to water storage, flood control, and improved water quality. The wetlands have also provided leisure areas for residents and habitats for microorganisms, plants, insects, and birds. Water resources and flood management capacity was strengthened through training and the establishment of an integrated information system for flood, water, and wastewater management. Workshops to strengthen community participation in environmental protection and flood management were conducted and community monitoring teams were formed to carry out inspection activities. Community awareness building and public consultation activities were held to promote good behavior toward greater water quality protection.
Corporatization of wastewater services was supported and so was a study of water pricing that resulted in a proposal to increase wastewater tariffs in 2018. However, following public consultation and objections from residents, the proposal was not implemented. At project completion, water tariffs remained as they were at project preparation.
The project largely met its output targets despite minor scope changes, the shift in financing arrangements for some activities from the ADB loan to counterpart funds, and implementation delays that pushed back project completion by a total of 30 months. Assessment of the project’s achievements at the outcome and impact levels is however constrained by weaknesses in indicators and targets, the lack of baseline data, and the complexity of the data and analysis required. For instance, the indicators and targets that were set to be achieved at project completion did not reflect the fact that 27 rivers discharge into Jiaozhou Bay, limiting the scope for the project to achieve the outcome and impact targets defined in its design and monitoring framework. Thus, even if the water quality of the project’s rivers has improved, the project did not meet its broader targets for improving the water quality and reducing the pollution of Jiaozhou Bay, and such targets were overly ambitious given the project’s narrow focus.
Nevertheless, the project generally has had a significant impact on the lives of project area residents, who have benefited from much improved living conditions because of flood protection, improved hygiene and sanitation, and the development of public areas for leisure and social activities. They have also seen an increase in land and property values, with the increase in residential and commercial buildings and an associated influx of people and businesses. Improved river management and the provision of habitats have benefited the environment and increased biodiversity.
As of 2018, the project had directly benefited 480,000 people, compared with the 370,000 target at appraisal. It was executed by the Jiaozhou city government. The project management office in Jiaozhou City Construction Bureau took charge of day-to-day implementation.