Country water actions are stories that showcase water reforms undertaken by individuals,communities, organizations, and governments in Asia-Pacific countries and elsewhere.
Country Water ActionsPeople’s Republic of China: Downstream to Upstream Cleanup
Sanitation and Wastewater Management Specialist Pollution and siltation have plagued the Jiulongjiang Riveruntil the Fujian provincial government invested RMB3 billionin river cleanup in 1999. Has the investment paid off?
REDUCING RIVER POLLUTION
The Jiulongjiang riversystem, flowing fromthe mountainsnorthwest of Zhangzhou City inFujian Province andemptying into TaiwanStrait, has beensuffering fromsiltation andpollution. Theculprits were soilerosion, inappropriate land use in the higher slopes,construction of a hydropower station, runoffs fromagricultural areas, uncontrolled waste discharges from hogfarms, and solid waste and wastewater from domestic andindustrial sources. Nutrient loading, particularly in theestuary, comes from river runoff, domestic sewage, sewageplants, farms, aquaculture and industries.In 1999, the Fujian government poured RMB3 billion intoplans and actions for water pollution control and ecologicalmanagement of the Jiulongjiang River. Six years later, theriver is clearly in the process of positive transformation.By 2005, total discharge of COD (chemical oxygendemand), ammonium-nitrogen, and phosphorus in the basinhas been reduced. Four treatment plants for domestic solidwaste and 9 sewage treatment plants were constructed.Green practices were also applied in livestock farming,includingRelocating or closing down more than 5,000environment-unfriendly hog farms, covering about 3million square meters of landBuilding up more than 0.1 million cubic meters of methane or oxygenation pondsConstructing a composting plant for manure inLongyan City with a capacity of 20,000 tons a yearPromoting an eco-model for hog-farming, methaneproduction, and fruit growthEstablishing a demonstration site for ecological cattlefarming in Xiamen.In addition, under new laws that took effect in February2009, no hog farm can be located within one kilometer andno new farms can be established within five kilometers fromthe Jiulongjiang River.
PROGRESS VERSUS PRESERVATION
Stretching 258 kilometers and with a basin area of 14,745square kilometers, the Jiulongjiang River is the secondlargest river in Fujian province. It runs through 19 countiesin the prefectures of Longyan, Zhangzhou, Xiamen,Quanzhou, and Sanming, with 88.3% of the basin areainside Longyan and Zhangzhou. The river supplies 584million tons of water for industrial use annually, while the 3cities in the basin, Longyan, Zhanzhou and Xiamen,consume an annual 1.6 million tons of water for domesticuses.As of 2005, the three cities of Xiamen, Zhangzhou andLongyan have a total population of 3.29 million people. Thebasin’s gross domestic product (GDP) accounts for 26% of Fujian province’s total GDP.Siltation and sedimentation in the Jiulongjiang River havemade the river shallow, while pollution has resulted in poorwater quality, particularly in the river’s estuary. Near thecoastal areas, natural habitats of rare and endangeredspecies, such as the Chinese white dolphins, horseshoecrabs, and egrets, have been degraded. Fisheries, tourism,shipping, and other industries have also been seriouslyaffected.The challenge to the Fujian government was how to balanceenvironmental protection and preservation measures witheconomic development both in the upper and lower reachesof the Jiulongjiang River. And the government knew that itwould require a long-term process, involving raisingawareness, changing practices, proper coordination, findingsuitable technologies, and financing, to revive the river.
REPLICATING COASTAL MODELS
Before embarking onthe JiulongjiangRiver’s rehabilitation,the Fujiangovernment wassuccessful in thecleanups of theYuandang Lagoonand Xiamen Harbor,transforming filthyand heavily pollutedwaters into healthybodies capable of supporting aquatic life. The price of landaround the lagoon has increased, adding to economic andsocial development. The aesthetic and environmentalimprovements have further attracted investments,contributing to double-digit GDP growth rates.