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China Report: Ecological Red Line: Protector of Nanming River

07DAY
2019-11
    China Report (Reporter Xu Hao) “Our decisive and drastic measures in the last year contributed to an increasingly improved environment,” Li Zaiyong, deputy to the National People’s Congress, member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Guizhou Provincial Committee, Deputy Secretary of the Leading Party Members’ Group of the Guizhou Provincial People’s Government, and Deputy Governor of Guizhou Province, told a reporter on on March 7, the open day of the Guizhou Delegation during the second session of the 13th National People’s Congress.  
    In 2018, while keeping accelerated economic development, Guizhou shouted out the slogan of “Colorful Guizhou, Say No to Pollution” and gathered strength to fight the “five battles” of pollution prevention and control.  
    It was October 2018 in Guiyang City, Guizhou Province. In the Nanming River, some strange gray birds appeared among white egrets, looking for food in water. Experts said that they are herons in the middle of their migration. Herons are barely seen in Guizhou, and it was the first time that they visited the Nanming River, primarily because of improved water quality.   
    On August 4, 2018, Chen Yan, deputy to the National People’s Congress and the Mayor of Guiyang City, stressed during his investigation on the management of the Nanming River that Guiyang shall make every effort to make the river a beautiful landscape with clear water, green banks and an abundance of fish in the city.  
    On August 29, 2018, at the 15th meeting of the Standing Committee of the 14th People’s Congress of Guiyang, the Resolution of the Standing Committee of the Guiyang Municipal People’s Congress on Promoting the Long-term Management of the Nanming River According to Law was adopted by vote. The Decision states that the protection and management of the Nanming River shall be carried out in accordance with the most strict laws and regulations ever.  
    On March 7, 2019, the Standing Committee of the Guiyang Municipal People’s Congress announced the 2019 Legislative Plan containing 17 legislative projects, one of which is the Measures for the Protection and Management of the Guiyang Nanming River, a legislative effort to promote innovation-driven reform for the benefits of the public. 
Renovated Nanming River

PPP: A New Model for Systematic Management of Nanming River
     As the “Mother River” of Guiyang, the Nanming River is a source of drinking water of the city. Thus, for decades, water quality of the river has been used as a standard to judge the environmental protection performance of the government. The protection and management of the Nanming River has always been a focus of the CPC Guizhou Provincial Committee and Guizhou Provincial People’s Government.  
     In contrast with its high water consumption, Nanming River has low surface runoff flows, which indicates the lack of water replenishment. In addition, as a result of rapid urbanization, large amounts of domestic wastewater and industrial waste were directly discharged into the river, destroying its ecosystem, and making it black and smelly. The water quality of the Nanming River and its upstreams like Shixi River once dropped to inferior Class V where the river was unable to realize self-purification. Although Guiyang once carried out many treatment activities, since they were accompanied by pollution, the water environment didn’t see fundamental improvement.  
     A city that lacks water cannot get rid of the curse of water pollution. It takes a lot of measures, determination, funds and technologies to change the situation,” said Huang Chengde, River Chief of the Nanming River.  
     In 2012, the General Office of the State Council issued the No. 2 document, systematically supporting the development of Guizhou Province at the national level, including establishing Guizhou into a national ecological civilization demonstration zone, and creating a “Cool Guiyang”.  At that time, the Nanming River, which seriously plagued local people and urban development due to its pollution, was in urgent need of management.   
     Facing the enormous challenge of comprehensively renovate the Nanming River in a short period of time, Guiyang took decisive measures and made quick decisions based on a thorough study of river renovation cases in other places. It shifted its focus from investment and construction to service purchase and process supervision, and introduced the PPP model to replace the traditional model featuring “highly segmented and overlapping management”. It also established the Nanming River Water Environment Management PPP Project Leading Group and Command headed by municipal leaders in charge, with the heads of relevant municipal departments as deputy leaders and commanders.  
     In November 2012, Guizhou partnered with CWEG to carry out the Nanming River Water Environment Management PPP Project. The project was completed in three phases, following the principle of “governmental guidance, mechanism innovation, law-based management, technological support, public participation and long-term management”. Focus was given to interception, dredging, wastewater treatment, odor treatment, and ecological treatment, specifically including building nine high-standard WWTPs, upgrading six existing WWTPs, and laying 100 km of sewers.  
    CWEG Guizhou Division General Manager said that water environment management is a systematic, comprehensive and integrated work. Guiyang must jump out from the loop of treatment and pollution, avoid “highly segmented and overlapping management”, and “leave professional fields to experts” through scientific investigations and technological innovation.   
    Guiyang opens its market to attract private investors with technical and financial strength and a strong sense of social responsibility, so that professional fields, including project planning, design, financing, construction, operation and management are done by experts. Guiyang’s attempt proved successful, creating remarkable results in the management of the Nanming River.   
    In just three years and at a cost of RMB 3 billion, Guiyang made “black and smelly” Nanming River clean and clear, with fundamentally improved water quality and water environment. Class III and Class IV water has increased to 35.6% and 31.6% by volume, while inferior Class V decreased from 51% to 5% by volume. The water quality of mainstream achieved Class III according to COD measurement, and the coverage rate of aquatic plants increased from 15% to over 73%.  
   At the Central Environmental Protection Inspection Nanming River Renovation Meeting, Chen Yan stressed that the management of the Nanming River is a complex and systematic project. In the PP model, problem-orientated planning and implementation should be carried out to achieve both short-term and long-term goals through temporary and permanent solutions.
  Exploring how to build a WWTP in a mountainous city to meet higher effluent discharge standards。
   Among the tributaries of the Nanming River, the Xiaohuang River, Madi River and Huaxi River were called “colorful rivers” by the local people - the Xiaohuang River was yellow, the Madi River was black, and the Huaxi River was green. When they met and flew into the Nanming River, a “colorful belt”was formed and then became more dirty as large amounts of domestic wastewater were directly discharged into the river.  
   Now, the three rivers have become clean thanks to a “Guardian. Madi River WWTP built by CWEG is located at where the three rivers meet, covering a total area of about 1.418 hectares, with a capacity of 30,000 m3/day. 
   It is not easy to find the WWTP. It lies under an ecological flowing water landscape park, where residents nearby often take a walk. There is even a school and some residential communities near the plant. All the treatment facilities are arranged underground, except the office building. This design solves the odor and noise problems that affect residents nearby, and saves land at the same time.  
   According to Gao Lin, the design provides a perfect solution to Guiyang
s karst landform, shortage of urban water supply, and lack of land sources. Originally, in line with the plan of large-scale wastewater interception using intercepting culverts, Guiyang intended to build a large recycled water plant in the lower reaches of the Nanming River to treat intercepted wastewater collected along the river. This plan requires thick and long sewers, relocation and land expropriation across a large area, which indicates high project costs. 
   To solve the problems of difficult WWTP upgrading, collection and reuse, and high costs faced by the original plan, CWEG, through repeated investigations, proposed an optimized plan of decentralized WWTP construction in line with the principle of
moderate concentration, on-site treatment, and local recycling, relying on the underground WWTP system featuring eco-friendliness, low land occupation and high resource utilization.  
   On June 14, 2018, Sun Zhigang, Secretary of the CPC Guizhou Provincial Committee, Director of the Standing Committee of Guizhou Provincial People
s Congress, and Principal River Chief of Guizhou, attended the Following Principal River Chief to Protect the Mother River activity held in Guiyang, and inspected CWEGs Qingshan Underground WWTP. He affirmed the contribution of decentralized WWTP construction to the management of the Nanming River. 
    
The underground WWTP system helps save 1,053 mu (approx. 70.6 ha.) of land for construction and sanitary protection, about RMB 1.5 billion for pipe networks and land acquisition, and some RMB 30 million of electricity costs for water diversion and replenishment, Gao Lin said. 
   Water replenishment is always a big problem faced by the Nanming River which has low flows. 
   
wastewater treated in accordance with the WWTP Effluent Discharge Standard Class IA still cannot directly contact with skin. To increase the flows, we had to discharge effluent from WWTPs into the Nanming River, and build dams in the urban area to slow down the flows, which, however, lowered the rivers self-purification capacity, leading to increased levels of nutrients. In that way, the water quality of the Nanming River still cannot be improved.   Huang Chengde said. 
   To solve this problem, CWEG voluntarily increased the effluent standards to Surface Water Quality Standard Class IV. Guiyang Qingshan Underground WWTP, designated as the permanent site for Eco Forum Global Annual Conference Guiyang, is China
s first success in producing Class IV effluent and achieving effective ecological water replenishment. 
   The high-quality reclaimed water from the plant helps replenish 200 million m3 of water to the river every year, saving RMB 158 million of water transfer costs. Effluent meeting high standards is also used for landscape irrigation along the river. 
   Thanks to the WWTP and reclaimed water collection pipe networks, Guiyang has been selected and approved by the national expert group as a National Environmental Protection Model City. 

CWEG Qingshan Underground WWTP
    Effective Water Management in Guiyang: Clean Water Adds Happiness to People’s Lives 

    “My Beautiful Nanming River, you bring my love to her. My Beautiful Nanming River, you shine the light of dreams in the sun. In the early spring of Guiyang, the melody of My Beautiful Nanming River again wafts across the Nanming River. 
   Natural environment is closely related to people
s lives, and therefore, every improvement of it will be remembered by the people. During the renovation of the Nanming River, local people offered strong support. They sent milk and eggs to workers, expressing their appreciation. In the photography exhibition themed Guarding the Mother River, 100 exhibits from all over the country show the beauty of renovated Nanming River in the eyes of local people and tourists. 
    
A good ecological environment is the fairest public product, and the most accessible welfare for the people.  81-Year-old Lei Yueqin is a native of Guiyang, and also an environmental volunteer. Over the past 34 years, she hand painted six pollution control maps of the Nanming River, and thus knows everything about the renovation of the river. She remembers how the Nanming River, which supplied drinking water to the city, turned into a dirty and smelly river, and how, through over three years of renovation, regained its past beauty.  
   
The Nanming River is a memory of hometown for every person born in the city. Now the river is clean again, and we are so proud and satisfied, Lei Yueqin said. 
   Thanks to gradual ecological restoration, people in Guiyang again feel the love and care of their
Mother River. With such significant achievements, the Nanming River Water Environment Management PPP Project, as a successful practice in promoting urban ecological civilization, sets an example for the renovation of similar rivers in the rest of China. 
   Also, as an example of black and odorous river management in China, it has been listed by the Ministry of Finance as one of the first eight new demonstration PPP projects in China, and is supported by the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Environmental Protection, National Development and Reform Commission and other ministries. On top of all that, the project brings the clean and clear Nanming River back, adding the sense of happiness and gain to people in the city.  
   Through years of active exploration of the management and protection of the Nanming River, Guiyang has formed a unique river management model which creates beautiful river scenery for the benefit of the public rather than the government.  
   Chen Yan stressed that strengthening comprehensive water environment management is an important part of building Guiyang into a national model of ecological civilization, and the top priority in pollution control. All municipal departments should take
water management as a major political task regarding improving peoples wellbeing, take practical measures to keep the balance between economic development and environmental protection, and do their best in water control, protection, management and utilization, pushing Guiyangs ecological civilization to a new level.