On April 16， 2015， China rolled out the Action Plan for Water Pollution Prevention and Control， another package for preventing and addressing severe pollution issues trailing the Action Plan for Air Pollution Prevention and Control.
The Action Plan defines 238 “hard measures，” including 136 for improvement and intensification， 12 for research and exploration， and 90 for reform and innovation， and defines goals by 2020， 2030， and 2050， respectively.
“All measures are made to prevent and control water pollution based on the Environmental Protection Law of the People’s Republic of China， within the framework of the law，” explains Chang Jiwen， deputy director of the Research Institute of Resources and Environment Policies under the Development Research Center of the State Council. “They feed the demands of controlling water pollution by law.”
The year 2013 witnessed the promulgation of the Action Plan for Air Pollution Prevention and Control. A big difference between Water and Air is that in Water， each measure points to designated leading department（s） and participating department（s）. “All relevant departments have been clarified with rights and liabilities in accordance with laws and regulations，” continues Chang. “Those that cannot accomplish their aims shall be held responsible， clearly and openly.”
Another highlight is a performance evaluation， which is led by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and aided by the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee. Those that fail the assessment will face Party discipline from the Ministry of Supervision. The clarification of rights and liabilities and the improvement of the accountability mechanism have empowered the implementation of the Action Plan for Water Pollution Prevention and Control.
“The Action Plan is highlighted by its prominent concept of ecosystem management，” illustrates Yang Zhaoxia， deputy director of the Research Center for the Eco-Law under Beijing Forestry University. “It stresses source control， water and land coordination， taking into account of rivers and seas， scientific management in drainage basins and regions through different stages， systematic acceleration of water pollution control， protection of water ecosystems， and management of water resources. Separate management of land and sea doesn’t work well. The same is true of management of rivers and lakes， which must be considered as a whole.” Yang also pointed out that the Action Plan places value on scientific law by categorizing water into three fields： water environment， water resources， and water ecology. It proposes cutting-edge management notions through attaching importance to scientific laws with corresponding countermeasures， such as water conservation to improve the water environment， protecting wetlands to balance water ecology， and improving maritime ecology.
The Action Plan outlines the concept of water pollution control through ecological administration， reinforcing the power of law enforcement of environmental protection at grassroots levels， and focusing on environmental risk management and control.
Feasible Economic Benefits
Any major action plan can hardly be implemented without several trillion yuan. To fund the Action Plan for Water Pollution Prevention and Control， efforts must be made to give full play to the market adjustment mechanism， straighten out taxes and dues， introduce social capital input， establish an incentive mechanism， carry out a green-credit policy， and implement trans-boundary water environment compensation.
As revealed by Wu Shunze， vice president of the Planning Institute under the Ministry of Environmental Protection， the Action Plan will require 5 trillion yuan to reach the goal by 2020.
“The Action Plan emphasizes the function of market，” explains Yang Zhaoxia. “It focuses on treatment of sewage and garbage as well as industrial parks through the third-party governance of environmental pollution and other measures， such as green finance， green-credit policy， trans-boundary water environment compensation， and further paid use of dumping rights and transaction experiments， which can all help give play to market functions.
As calculated by the Ministry of Environmental Protection， the implementation of the Action Plan will increase GDP by 5.7 trillion yuan， a non-agricultural employment of 3.9 million， and the proportion of the service industry in GDP by 2.3 percent.