Skip to Main Navigation
Results Briefs February 26, 2018

China: Advancing Water and Wastewater Services in Jiangsu province


Jinshan water treatment plant in operation in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, China.

Photo: World Bank

The Jiangsu Water and Wastewater Project provided water supply and sanitation services and reduced pollution discharges into the local rivers. From the project start in 2009 to the project closure in 2015, the Project directly benefitted 4,769,000 people and 78 towns and villages.


Water supply and wastewater management is an important part of the economic and social fabric of Jiangsu, China. However, water shortages, water scarcity, and water pollution were constraining inclusive economic growth. In addition, the water supply and sanitation (WSS) sector was marked by a high degree of fragmentation and inefficiency. In July 2007, important fresh water sources even experienced algal blooms due to surface water pollution, which precipitated the emergency shut down of the city’s water supply system. To meet water demands, the city turned to groundwater sources and subsequently over extracted its groundwater aquifer and experienced salt-water intrusion in coastal areas.

Compounding these critical concerns, large cities in Jiangsu lacked wastewater services. Many urban areas and their adjacent rural areas were either completely without sewer systems or with substandard water supply systems. In order to improve the environment and economy, it was important to invest in institutional and financial capacity building activities to improve WSS services.


The Jiangsu Water and Wastewater Project for China included interventions aimed at improving water quality of surface water sources such as lakes, rivers, and canals. In order to enhance the sustainability of the overall water supply system, the project aimed to support the implementation of the Jiangsu Province’s integrated urban and rural water supply plan as well as bolster long-term institutional and financial capacity through investments in municipal water supply expansion. The project was designed with a forward-looking water resources management strategy to concurrently develop the water supply and wastewater service industry. In particular, the project aimed to provide sustainable water supply services to both rural and urban areas through the integration and aggregation of services.

The project was implemented in three municipalities (Nanjiang, Yancheng, and Zhenjiang), two county-level cities (Danyang and Taixing), and seven implementation units (PMUs) in the above municipalities/cities. In order to bolster financial resources for water security and quality, the project included a comprehensive review and revision of water supply and wastewater tariffs for the entire province. Overall, the project focused on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of water and wastewater services in Jiangsu, alongside reducing pollution discharges to local rivers.


The project (2009-2015) directly benefitted over 4,769,000 people and 78 towns and villages through measures such as institutional interventions and technical assistance. The key impacts of the project include improved effectiveness of water supply and wastewater services, and improved standards of water quality. Through activities such as strengthening and building institutional capacity at the provincial level; expanding wastewater collection; and environmental monitoring, the outputs of this project that have directly contributed to the improvement of WSS services include:

  • WSS services were expanded to 84 rural towns with 24-hour service, leading to increase in water sales and hence revenues;
  • The coverage of water supply in project towns reached 99.8 percent;
  • Non-Revenue Water reduced in the targeted four cities from 27% to 22% on average
  • 95% coverage of wastewater service in project cities;
  • Pollution discharges to local rivers and Jiangsu were reduced to 60,729 tons per year of COD pollution loads from the municipal wastewater in the project catchment area; and
  • The operational performance of the water distribution network was improved through Geographic Information System (GIS) based mapping and monitoring.


Chengdong water treatment plant in Yancheng, Jiangsu Province, China. Photo: World Bank

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank provided the People’s Republic of China with a US$130 million Specific Investment Loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). Apart from the financing, the World Bank provided advice during project preparation and implementation, based on its global experience on similar projects.


Activities of the central government and the provincial government of the People’s Republic of China were instrumental to the success of the project. In particular, the Jiangsu provincial project management office demonstrated strong leadership throughout the project design and implementation. The Nanjing Urban Construction Investment Group Company also served as an important partner in the project coordination and implementation. 

Moving forward

The newly built water treatment plants are operating well and being maintained appropriately. The water supply companies will continue to lower their operating costs, overhead and service costs, further reduce non-revenue water and further raise water tariffs for continuing financial sustainability. The combination of the newly established institutional arrangements with new tariff will provide a solid foundation for the sustainable development of wastewater services in Nanjing municipality. 


Multiple separate districts and towns in the 4 project cities benefitted from the expansion of the WSS collection and treatment systems. Additionally, the project benefitted the project cities through the capacity building and institutional strengthening project activities.  

Longtan water treatment plant in operation in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. Photo: World Bank

Longtan water treatment plant in operation in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province, China. Photo: World Bank