Author：Jinfeng Zhou, Secretary General of China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation
The protection of drinking water sources for metropolitan areas has a bearing on the safety and health for tens of millions of citizens, provides strong support for the sustainable development of urban economy and society, and maintains the long-term security of the country.
The Partnership of Metropolitan Watersource Protection (PMWP)，a water resource protection mechanism that works together and involves multiple parties, was established in 2015 by six organizations, with its focus on the protection of drinking water sources and securing the sustainable development of watersource in metropolitan.
Chinese civil society established a metropolitan watersource fund, through which enterprises and individuals in the downstream of the river basin make donations, and the fund has been invested in upstream water source protection projects, downstream users would purchase watershed ecological services from upstream farmers and communities, for example, increased water volume, improved water quality, etc, to realize the sustainable development of urban drinking water sources. The PMWP promotes environmental protection, supervision and management of urban drinking water sources by exploring water conservation forest management, water source community livelihood improvement and watershed ecological compensation mechanisms, and ensuring that urban drinking water sources meet the water quality standards.
Under the framework of PMWP, Chinese social organization has taken actions to conserve the watersource and ecosystem people rely on through carrying out investigation and assessment project, submitting recommendation towards implementer of ecological projects for improvement the effect, and launching initiatives to keep the wilderness in cities.
Keywords：Water resource, metropolitan drinking water sources, wetland, conservation,
Jinfeng Zhou, Establishing a Multi-Participation Urban Water Source Protection Site Mechanism: A Case Study of the Partnership of Metropolitan Watersource Protection (PMWP), Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development, Vol.1 No.3. February 2022, ISSN2749-906
Under the framework of PMWP and the Metropolitan Watersource Fund, China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation (CBCGDF) supports the Evaluation of Watersource Current Situation of Metropolis in the Big and Middle Cities in the Upper Yellow River- Taking Lanzhou City, Tianshui City, and Baoji City As Examples Project.
The Yellow River, dubbed the mother river of the Chinese people, runs through over 240 counties of more than 50 big and medium-sized cities, nourishing local communities and providing drinkable water. Over recent years, the environment of Yellow River basin has kept deteriorating, threatening the economic growth of neighbouring cities as well as public health. According to random check by the Water Resource Protection Bureau of Yellow River Basin, the watersource of about 70% cities located along the main stream of the River fails to meet the third-level water standard. Toxic chemicals are presented in some water sources.
Lanzhou City, Tianshui City, and Baoji City, located in the upper stream of the River, are composed of an important economic zone in the northwest China. The expanding urbanization has witnessed the escalated conflicts between city development and watersource protection, including the conflict that the enlarging urban development land occupies water source conservation area, and sewage from industrial and agricultural activities threatens to pollute watersource. In this context, The assessment project aims to understand the current situation of water source in three cities and promote practical and effective solutions to the scientific establishment and conservation of water source, and thus further secure water safety.
Information Collection-To collect information of three cities pertaining to natural environment (including climate, landscape, land utilization, vegetation), contributory factors of social economy, and water resources utilization and protection measures.
On-site Survey-To conduct field surveys into six water supply groups, local water sources, and reservoirs in three cities and acquire the management mechanism of water and water source.
Panel Seminars-Professionals and experts are invited to analyse the persisting challenges for watersource conservation on the basis of the information collected in the previous phases. The seminar aims to point out obstacles and put forward with practical solutions, guided by national water resources policies and regulations which are incorporated into a project report.
Open watersources such as river and reservoir require strict protection measures, and it is the same with underground watersources. Authorities who are responsible for water resource conservation clearly set scopes of different levels of watersource conservation area, and establish warning boards and signs. However, problems are still persisting and there is room for improvement. Main common challenges are preliminarily identified as below.
Firstly, separated institutional mechanism cooperation. In China, the duty, responsibility, and interests of watersource protection, management and operation are not unified. Water resources management, forest for water source conservation, and supervision on water source are respectively managed by water resources department, forestry department, and ecology and environment sector. That means the main authority who is responsible for designing and protecting water source, for instance, only has duty to shoulder and lacks of incentive mechanism, lowering the initiative and motivation to improve and leading to a lower willingness for multiple parties to cooperate.
Secondly, Domestic sewage and waste from industrial and agricultural activities pose threats to watersource as polluting enterprises set themselves in the protection area. Agro-tourism sites and intensive planting expand, highways with chemicals transportation traverse the watersource conservation zone.
The third is the insufficient standby reserve water sources. With the acceleration of urbanization and the sharp increase of urban population, the urban water supply has been increasing year by year. The existing water supply capacity cannot meet the increasing demand.
Fourthly, impact triggered by agricultural planting. Indigenous communities make their living from agriculture with vegetable and fruit trees as main source of income. The dramatic rise in fertilizer and pesticide requires treatment mechanisms and alternative programms.
Moreover, the vital role of wetland, the important water filtration, has being largely ignored in some ecological conservation projects. In 2019, the construction of Nanyuan Wetland Park in Fengtai District, Beijing, was officially launched, with the first phase construction covering an area of one million square meters. However, the Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau and the Municipal Commission of Planning and Natural Resources are unable to provide necessary materials including natural resources evaluation report, ecological restoration plan, and biodiversity survey report that should be an prerequisite for starting such an ecological project especially in the populous city in which ecosystem and natural resources perhaps have been interrupted and consumed greatly by human activities. This is not the sole case. Nanhui Dongtan Wetland in Shanghai is heavily planted and afforested- a 250-hectare area of wetland has been replaced with trees. The industrialized afforestation movement may pose significant impact on local ecosystem and ecology as more than 400 species of birds have been recorded in Nanhui, accounting for about 30% of the total birds in China and 85% of the recorded birds in Shanghai.
To improve the existing supervision and administration mechanism. Watersource protection involves multiple government departments, therefore a coordinated and cooperated efforts will contribute to smoothing the management work. It is suggested to set up an agency or build up dynamic mechanism to implement the national watersource-related regulations, coordinate water resources management and ecological environment protection, deal with pollutants and reduce potential influence brought out by pollution. A well-developed supervision mechanism with public participation helps urge the official sector to fulfill responsibility thoroughly.
To give full play of social organization and improve public awareness on water conservation. Civil society, serving as the bridge of stakeholders, can play a crucial role in awareness promotion, assistance, and supervision. CBCGDF has launched initiatives “Wild City” and “Let Wild Grass Grow” in urban densely populated area, appealing to treasure and keep the precious wilderness in metropolis. In addition, delegates of all stakeholders including social organizations should be allowed to participate in the project development to ensure the transparent review process.
To imbed Ecological Civilization in the design and implement of watersource protection and ecological projects. Guided by the conviction that lucid waters and lush mountains are as valuable as mountains of gold and silver, more emphasis have been focusing on ecological and environmental protection, the core philosophy of Ecological Civilization. The ecological environment of watersource should be improved through improving rural sewage treatment infrastructure, boosting ecological agriculture to reduce the usage of chemicals, and ensuring good quality of water. Conservation programms should take local situation such as climatic condition, water resources supporting capacity into consideration to prevent water and soil loss, enhance ecological restoration in the watersource protection area.