2011-2013 Water Policies Review

By China Water Risk 8 March, 2013

Don't know what China's been up to on the waterfront? Check out our summary of key water policies

The 12FYP & No.1 Document in 2011, placed water at the top of the government's agenda
First ever ambitious plans like the National Plan on Groundwater Pollution Control were issued
Recent raft of decrees issued in 2013 in the run up to the March NPC meetings reinforce focus on water

12th Five Year Plan (2011-2015)

  • 6 new water pollution targets (Ammonium Nitrate, Arsenic, Cadmium, Chromium, Lead & Mercury)
  • Introduced new strategic emerging industries
    • Energy saving & environmental protection
    • Renewable energy: reduce exposure from water reliant power from 97% to 87% from 2010-2030 with aggressive renewable energy expansion
    • Biotechnology: Improve crop per drop, yields, drought & flood resistant strains – reiterated in the 2012 No. 1 Document focused on Agri & Tech
    • New materials: Focus on water substitutes, RO membranes
    • Next generation IT: smart metering of water and power
    • High-end manufacturing: directing focus to more water-efficient and less-polluting industries

No. 1 Document (March 2011)

  • Water efficiency for agriculture, infrastructure spending, water usage caps

Water Management Decree (March 2012)

  • Most Stringent Guidelines to limit water use March 2012

National Plan on Groundwater Pollution Control (November 2011)

  • First ever national plan on groundwater control
  • A total of RMB 34.66 billion will be invested in evaluation, prevention and treatment of groundwater pollution between 2011-2020

Water Pollution Prevention Plan on Key Basins,  2011-2015 (May 2012)

  • A total of 22 indicators will be used to evaluate river quality during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period to enhance watershed protection and to improve overall water quality in key river basins from moderately polluted to slightly polluted. This involves increasing the Grade I – III section by 5% to 49.2% while reducing sections of river basins that fall into the worse than Grade V by 8%. The plan emphasizes 6 major tasks:
    • to strengthen the protection of drinking water
    • to improve industrial pollution controls
    • to enhance the urban sewage treatment systems
    • to promote comprehensive environmental and ecological construction
    • to enforce the coastal waters pollution prevention and control

Water Development Plan, 2011-2015 (June 2012)

  • Improved flood control – target is at most one flood every five years for low-lying areas
  • Water safety for the 300 million rural Chinese residents
  • Increase centralized water supply beneficiary ratio to 80%
  • Increase water supply by 40 billion m3 including ~20 billion m3 in the urban areas
  • Urban water supply should be secure and be no lower than 95%
  • Ensure 2015 national water use target of 635 billion m3 met by reducing industrial water use by 30% using 2010 figures as a benchmark
  • Increase efficient irrigation areas by 400 million acres by 2015, and improve irrigation water efficiency index to above 0.53 within this period
  • Improve Grade I-III water quality for major rivers and lakes by 60%; urban wastewater treatment rate to 85%, and wastewater renewal rate to above 20% for water-needy cities
  • Increase treated runoff areas by 2.5 million km2
  • Reduce groundwater over-extraction
  • Develop the basic system of water projects and water rights
  • Vision 2020: National water use capped at 670 billion m3with irrigation water efficiency index to above 0.55

New Drinking Water Standards (July 2012)

  • Updated drinking water standards to be applied countrywide with 21 toxicological indicators. The last set of standards introduced in 1985 only had 10 indicators

Most Stringent Water Management System Methods (2 January 2013)

  • Sets out water usage, efficiency ratios for industry and agriculture and water quality measurements for each province which filter into the national water caps and targets
  • Jiangsu, Anhui, Xinjiang, Shanghai and Guangdong all have to reduce their current total water consumption by 2015
  • Guangdong has to reduce water every year from 2011-2030
  • These new water quotas make it difficult for economic powerhouses like Guangdong and Jiangsu to continue to be wasteful in using water.

Water Resource Fee (14 January 2013)

  • a clear water resources tariff formulation system;
  • different standards for different type of water resources such as surface water & groundwater;
  • reasonable water tariff standards to promote water resources tariff reform, considering local water resources condition, local economic development and users in different industries;
  • strict control on underground water exploitation;
  • support on agricultural water consumption by exempting or lowering water tariff within certain consumption range;
  • encouragement on water recycling;
  • reasonable water tariff standards for hydro-power industry;
  • punitive standards for excessive water consumption; and
  • management and control on excessive water tariff collection.
  • The 2015 minimum tariff charges for groundwater is 2x that of surface water at the low end and 2.5x at the high end

Guidance on the Development of Environmental Protection Services, a 12FYP Strategic Emerging Industry (24 January 2013)

  • Formation of 50 environmental protection service companies with revenues in excess of RMB1billion

12FYP on Prevention and Control of Environmental Risks of Chemicals (7 February 2013)

  • Released by the Ministry of Environmental Protection
  • The document officially recognizes existence of “Cancer Villages” in China caused by environmental incidents such as leakage of un/mistreated toxic chemicals for the first time.
  • The plan aims to control the use and discharge of 58 harmful chemicals according to categories and their levels of potential harm to the environment:
    • 25 that would cause environmental harms when accumulated
    • 15 that are known to have caused environmental incidents and harmful effects
    • 30 specific pollutants identified by industrial discharge standards, their harmfulness to the environment, etc.
  • Also, the plan monitors key polluting industries such as:
    • Oil processing, coking and nuclear fuel industries
    • Chemicals and chemical products industries
    • Pharm chemicals
    • Chemical fabrics production
    • Metals and rolling processing industries
    • Textiles
    • New Coal Chemical Industries

12FYP Environmental Protection Standards (17 February 2013)

  • Issued by The Ministry of Environmental Protection
  • China plans to modify and consolidate 600 environmental standards into 300 during the 12FYP term
  • Plans to focus on better coordination between departments, better construction and management of existing structures and stronger research support, with more assessments and international coordination
  • A total of RMB211 million will be spent on these improvements outlined in the plan broken down as follows:
    • RMB 142 million –  Modification of environmental standards
    • RMB 10 million – Assessment of enforcement
    • RMB 9 million – Promotion and training
    • RMB 50 million – Design, capacity construction and management of environmental protection standards


Additional Reading:

China Water Risk
Author: China Water Risk
We believe regardless of whether we care for the environment that water risks affect us all – as investors, businesses and individuals. Water risks are fundamental to future decision making and growth patterns in global economies. Water scarcity has emerged as a critical sustainability issue for China's economy and since water powers the economy, we aim to highlight these risks inherent in each sector. In addition, we write about current trends in the global water industry, analyze changes occurring both regionally and globally, as well as providing explanations on the new technologies that are revolutionizing this industry.
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