2011 State of Environment Report Review

By China Water Risk 7 August, 2012

Some good and bad news from the 2011 State of Environment Report

Significant improvement in overall water quality of 26 key lakes and reservoirs but 9 large freshwater lakes have deteriorated
Little improvement in overall quality for 7 river basins; Grade I-III water worsened for the Yangtze, Hai & Liao
55% national groundwater is of bad to very bad quality

Some good and bad news from the 2011 State of Environment Report issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

26 Keys Lakes & Reservoirs

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has released its 2011 State of Environment Report with marked improvement in the quality of water in the 26 key lakes and reservoirs monitored.  Grade I-III water almost doubled from 23% in 2011 to 42% in 2011 and Grade V+ water in 2009 falling to 8% in 2011.

However China’s “Three Lakes” Tai Hu, Dian Hu and Chao Hu are still not fit for human contact and Grade I-III water for the nine large freshwater lakes have deteriorated significantly by 22%. The improvement in lakes and reservoirs are therefore primarily due to improved water quality in the five urban lakes (Donghu, Xuanwu, Daming, West Lake and Kunming Lake) and nine large reservoirs.

7 Major River Basins

There is marginal improvement in the overall water quality in the seven main river basins. There is a slight improvement with Grade I-III water increasing from 57% in 2009 to 61% in 2011 and as well as a reduction in Grade V+ Water from 19% to 14% in the same period.

The results are mixed, if we look at the breakdown by river. There was no movement in water quality for the Pearl but deterioration in Grade I-III water for three out of seven rivers: Yangtze, Hai and Liao.

2009-2011 Movement by River

The Yangtze has degraded in all categories – Grade I-III water fell by 6.5%, Grade V-VI water rose by 5.1% and Grade V+ water increased by 1.4% .

The Yellow showed overall improvement on Grade I-III by 1.6% and fall in 6.4% of Grade V+ water.

The Pearl – no significant change across categories.

Songhua and Huai showed a just under 5% improvement in Grade I-III water but Songhua experienced degradation in Grade V+ water of 4.8% whereas Huai an improvement of 2.3%






The Hai River on the other hand had mix results: degradation in Grade I-III water of 2.7% compared a 4.1% improvement in Grade V+ water.

The Liao River had the best results in cleaning up Grade V+ water with a 25% improvement but then Grade I-III water saw a degradation of 1.2%




Groundwater pollution remains serious with over 55% of groundwater falling in the bad to very bad category.

So before we jump for joy and declare pollution as a non-issue, the absolute numbers are still serious. Water resources not fit for human contact is still:

  • 58% of 26 key lakes and reservoirs;
  • 55% of national groundwater; and
  • 39% of the seven major river basins



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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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