1. Current status of water pollution and countermeasures in China

In China, along with high economic development, the promotion of industrialization and urbanization and the influence of global climate change have raised concerns about water security, pollution emissions by industrial enterprises, pollution by traffic accidents, production safety of enterprises. Emergency incidents in the water environment field, such as water pollution incidents caused by accidents, have occurred frequently. China’s water environment problems are becoming more serious.

Therefore, for many years, the Chinese government has introduced and implemented preventive measures against water pollution such as the “Water Pollution Prevention Law” and the “Water Pollution Prevention Action Plan”; as a result it has achieved a certain effect.

Currently, the highest level of water pollution control law in China is the “Water Pollution Prevention Law”, and there are also “Water Law” and “Water and Soil Preservation Law”, but their scope of application is different. The “Water Law” was created to rationally develop, use, conserve and protect water resources, prevent flood damage, and realize the sustainable development of water resources. On the other hand, the “Water and Soil Preservation Law” was created to prevent and treat water and soil erosion, protect their resources, use them rationally, reduce floods, droughts and dust damage, improve the ecological environment, and, as a result, promote production.

The “Detailed Regulations for Implementation of the Water Pollution Prevention Law” promulgated and implemented from March 20, 2000 was repealed on April 4, 2018 as the No.698 Decree of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China “Decision to Revise or Abolish Some Administrative Regulations of the State Council” was promulgated on March 19, 2018.


2. Legal system for water pollution prevention

Regarding water pollution prevention measures, the water pollution-related legal provisions at an initial stage in China are found in the “Environmental Protection Law” that came into effect in 1979, but it remained in the basic principles. Then in 1984, the “Water Pollution Prevention Law”, the first law specializing in water pollution, was enacted and is positioned as a basic law even now in the field of water pollution prevention measures.

The law has been amended in 1996, 2008 and 2017. Among them, the 2008 amendment introduced a system for controlling the total amount of emissions of priority pollutants. In addition, environmental standards related to farmland irrigation water, fishery water quality, sewage, and groundwater quality standards have been established.

In addition, under the “Water Pollution Prevention Law” newly revised in 2017, many provisions were amended to clarify the responsibilities for water environment quality of local governments at each level, implementation rules of a total amount regulation system and a pollutant emission permit system, and the responsibilities for the tasks of the local department in charge of environmental protection.

However, under the “Water Pollution Prevention Law”, there is no national-level “Water Pollution Prevention Ordinance”; subsequently, individual governments of provinces have enacted their own province-level “Water Pollution Prevention Ordinance”. On the other hand, the national level laws such as “Castle drainage and sewage treatment ordinance”, “Waihe basin water pollution prevention provisional ordinance” and “Taiko basin management ordinance” were enacted. In addition, the “Sewage Treatment Fee Collection and Use Control Law” was enacted to strengthen the management of sewage treatment fee in the local towns.

By the way, in China, policy documents (plans) that determine water pollution control policies and long-term goals are often published. As an example, the “Water Pollution Prevention Action Plan” promulgated in April 2015 is one of them. The “Water Pollution Prevention Action Plan,” also known as the “Water Jujo,” has presented the goals for water pollution prevention in China until 2030. In addition, the “National Groundwater Pollution Prevention Plan (2011-2020)” was promulgated in October 2011 to strengthen the nationwide groundwater pollution prevention measures. In October 2017, the “Priority Watersheds Water Pollution Prevention Plan (2016-2020)” was promulgated in order to strengthen water pollution prevention measures in priority watersheds.

As described above, China’s legal framework for water pollution prevention consists of the higher-level law “Water Pollution Prevention Law” and the ordinances, action plans, and water discharge standards created based on the Law.