State of Ecology & Environment –

Surface Water & Groundwater

China State of Water

Every year, the Ministry of Ecology & Environment (MEE) releases the State of Ecology & Environment report, which reveals the state of water quality in China. How has surface & groundwater quality has changed since 2010? Which river basins have reached the Water Ten target of 70% surface water being Grades I – III?
Water Supply War on Pollution
Surface water quality
Share of monitoring stations reaching Grade I-III.
China’s River Pollution Grades
Surface water quality
I The source of the water body and national nature reserve
II Class one water source protection area for centralized drinking water supply, natural habitat for rare species of fish, and spawning grounds for fish and shrimps.
III Class two water source protection area for centralized drinking water supply, sanctuaries for common species of fish, and swimming zones
IV Mainly applicable to water bodies used for general industrial water supply and recreational waters in which there is no direct human contact with the water (non-physical)
V Mainly applicable to water bodies used for agricultural water supply and for general landscape requirements.
Highly Polluted
V+ Essentially useless.
Water Ten target for 2020 reached but some rivers lag. In 2017, the share of surface water in China main river basins meeting Grade I-III was 71.8%, reaching the Water Ten target of 70%, but 5 Northern rivers (Yellow, Songhua, Huai, Hai & Liao) fail to meet the target. In particular, Hai, Huai, & Liao river basins have historically been the most polluted in China.
Mismatched StandardsChina’s Water Sources
Groundwater quality
Overall groundwater quality declining. China’s overall groundwater quality has been gradually deteriorating since 2012. Despite some improvement in 2016, the groundwater quality worsened again in 2017. Despite this, the proportion of “very bad” quality groundwater of 14.8% still meets the Water Ten Plan’s target limit of 15% by 2020.Groundwater Depletion
Improving shallow groundwater quality. On a more positive note, the overall shallow groundwater quality of China’s main river basins has shown continuous improvement. Between 2016 & 2017, all main river basins have improved in the “very bad” category.
2017 Overall Goundwater Quality

Further reading – 2017 State Of Ecology & Environment Report Review

We review mixed trends for China’s water in 2017
  • Prioritising rivers pays off as main river basins’ overall quality improved; but 5 Northern rivers below 70% target
  • Overall groundwater quality continues to worsen despite 2016 bleep; Key Lakes & Reservoirs also deteriorate
  • Maybe like the revision of over-inflated GDP figures this year, we are now seeing the “real” state of environment