Water quality: top ranking cities, lakes, and reservoirs in China


Water restoration: top ranking cities, lakes, and reservoirs in China

On July 18, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment announced the national water quality status for January – June 2022. Monitoring shows that in the first six months of 2022, among the 3,641 national surface water assessment sections, 85.7% have good water quality (class I to III), a year-on-year increase of 4.0 %.

The top 10 ranking cities, lakes, and reservoirs in China that have seen the greatest improvement in water quality

Image by siyuanyuanyuan from Pixabay

Analyzing the top 10 ranking cities, lakes, and reservoirs that have seen the greatest improvement in water quality, some cities and places have caught our attention.

What are some of the best practices implemented by the top-ranking cities and communities on this list?

In the list of the top 10 water quality cities in China, Lishui City in Zhejiang Province ranked fifth. Earlier this year, Lishui also ranked 8th on the air quality list that included 168 cities. Looking at the data ranking for the whole year of 2021, Lishui's air quality ranks 7th in the country, and its water quality ranks 10th. According to the recently released "2021 Lishui Ecological Status Bulletin", Lishui has become the only top 10 ranking prefecture-level city in the country featuring on both water and air quality lists.

What practices make Lishui so successful at tackling air and water pollution?

Lishui implemented an in-depth clean water action plan, formulated the "Lishui City Water Protection 2021 Implementation Plan", as well as strengthened the protection of drinking water sources and water bodies, completed the navigation analysis of 17 state-controlled water quality sections, and compiled and implemented the so-called  "one source, one policy" protection plan for centralized drinking water sources at or above the county level in 10 counties, cities, and districts. The analysis of total organic matter was also completed as planned.

In June this year, Lishui was commended by the State Council, and it was also the only city in the province to make it to the list. Some of the implemented water improvement projects include the technological transformation of urban sewage treatment plants for clean discharge, the management of rural wastewater treatment facilities, the treatment of agricultural and rural non-point sources, and the construction and transformation of urban sewage pipe networks. The city has implemented a project fund of 946 million yuan for the "zero and direct sewage discharge area", and built four "zero and direct sewage discharge areas" in Qingyuan County, Suichang County, Songyang County, and Jingning County.

And which city has achieved the greatest improvement in water quality?

According to the data for the first quarter of this year, the first place goes to Luliang City in Shanxi Province, with an improvement rate of 34.07%.

What did Luliang do differently from other places in the competition?

Back in 2021, from April to May, the Central First Environmental Protection Inspection Team implemented the second round of environmental protection inspections in Shanxi Province.

Since then, Luliang City's ecological department has focused on the implementation of the goals and tasks for pollution prevention and control. The local communities of Luliang also had meaningful involvement in the environmental decision-making process and contributed to pollution prevention and control.

Furthermore, Luliang City issued the "2021 Action Plan for the Consolidation and Improvement of Water Environment Quality in Luliang City", which provided the implementation basis for the city's consolidation and improvement of water quality.

According to the data, since the beginning of this year, in response to the deterioration of some sections, Luliang has notified 4 counties to help formulate plans to stabilize the water quality of the sections. The two counties whose cross-sections of the national examination continuously exceeded the standard were listed and supervised. Supervision letters were issued to 8 counties for ongoing environmental problems, 7 county governments were investigated due to environmental problems, and accountability was initiated for the serious violation of the national examination section in 1 county.

Another city in Shanxi province that made it to the list ranking 7th is the city of Datong where the coordinated riverside management has greatly improved the condition of the Sanggan River Basin.

In Datong, the investigation and rectification of wastewater outfalls entering rivers in the city’s river basins and effort to promote various renovation projects of urban wastewater treatment plants, have accelerated the efficiency of wastewater treatment plants to meet the surface water V standard and promoted the construction of rural domestic sewage treatment facilities, and the facilities for the treatment of livestock and poultry manure.

The water quality of the two cities in Shanxi has seen significant improvement. Their local governments have implemented central environmental protection measures to make up for the environmental shortcomings, and several water-related environmental problems have been therefore effectively solved. The local governments have also taken the initiative to implement in-depth pollution prevention and control measures.

In the data of the first six months, among the 210 key lakes (reservoirs) monitored, the number of lakes and reservoirs with excellent water quality (class I-III) accounted for 76.2%, a year-on-year increase of 3.3 %. In terms of water quality, Baiyangdian Lake in Hebei province achieved impressive results. In the same period last year, the water quality of Baiyangdian was still Class IV, but now it has been upgraded to Class III. Baiyangdian Lake, known as the "Pearl of North China", has achieved the water quality of all the rivers in the Dian District reaching Class III and above standards by the end of 2021, which is the best level since the restoration of water storage in 1988 and monitoring records.

To treat Baiyangdian, local authorities focused on the improvement and restoration of the water quality in the whole basin by making overall planning and coordinated water replenishment, pollution control, and flood control. Baiyangdian ushered in the largest systematic environmental management in recent history. Official data also show that the number of fish species in Baiyangdian has recovered to 44, which now includes indigenous fish such as dragon louse, medaka, and whitebait.

The Environmental Bureau of Xiongan New Area announced that in the future, the new area will consolidate and maintain Baiyangdian Class III water, improve the regional joint prevention and control mechanism, coordinate the protection of Baiyangdian ecological water volume, and explore and implement water ecological evaluation and assessment.

The aforementioned case studies are used as a point of reference for evaluating water quality restoration projects across the country.  The implementation of water quality restoration efforts signals an important paradigm shift related to environmental values and awareness in China, as national funding is diverted in a progressive campaign to support local restoration practices.