Date: 04 Jan 2011

Integrated river basin management in rapidly urbanizing areas: a case of Shenzhen, China

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Abstract

The rapid urbanization of China is causing a burden on their water resources and hindering their sustainable development. This paper analyzes effective methods to integrated river basin management (IRBM) using Longgang River basin of Shenzhen as an example, which is the city with the fastest rate of urbanization in China and even the whole world. Over the past 20 years, China has undergone a population boom due to the increase of immigrant workers and rapid development of laborintensive industries, which led to the sharp increase of water consumption and sewage discharge. However, the construction of the water infrastructure is still lagging far behind the environmental and social development, with only 32.7% of sewage in the district being treated. Currently, every water quality indicator of the Longgang River basin was unable to meet the required corresponding environmental standards, which further aggravated the water shortages of the region. Thus, an analytical framework is proposed to address the IRBM of the study area. The problems with the current management system include the lack of decentralization in decision-making, lack of enforcement with redundant plans, weak management capacity, financial inadequacy, and a poor system of stakeholder participation. In light of the principles of IRBM and the situation of the region, corresponding measures are put forward, including an increase of power given to sub-district offices, fewer but more feasible plans, capacity building among stakeholders, a combination of planning and marketing for overcoming financial inadequacy, and profound reform in the public participation system. The framework and institutional suggestions could inform similar processes in other representative river basins.