Regional Water Policy in China – Problems and Approaches in the Taihu und Wuhan Regions

  • Liping Dai
  • Tianbao Qin
Part of the Future City book series (FUCI, volume 12)


This contribution depicts the governance arrangements for water resource management in the regions of the Tai Lake Basin and in the city of Wuhan. As to the Tai Lake Basin, the focus is on pollution control. It is shown that sustainable, integrated water management is strongly impeded by high fragmentation of the administrative competences and that adequate organizational integration and effective coordination instruments are lacking. The city of Wuhan is presented as an advanced example regarding the implementation of the “Sponge City” concept. It is shown that Wuhan has managed to establish a more integrated administrative arrangement for the purpose of water infrastructure development and a complex structure of objectives, standards, and responsibilities for the advancement of the Sponge City project. In order to place these examples of regional water governance into the wider national picture, we firstly provide a brief overview of the factual and institutional backdrop in China.


  1. Asian Development Bank (2013) Increasing Climate Change Resilience of Urban Water Infrastructure. Accessed 29 Apr 2018
  2. Bureau of Taihu Lake Basin Ministry of Water Resources (2011) Taihu Basin and Southeast Rivers Water Resources Bulletin 2011. http://wwwtbagovcn/tba/content/TBA/lygb/szygb/JCMS000000051415html. Accessed 23 May 2018
  3. Cheng J, Zhou J (2015) Urban Growth in a Rapidly Urbanized Mega City: Wuhan. In: Singh RB (ed) Urban Development Challenges, Risks and Resilience in Asian Mega Cities. Springer, Japan, pp 301–322Google Scholar
  4. Dai L (2015a) A New Perspective on Water Governance in China--Captain of the River. Water Int 40(1):87–99. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Dai L (2015b) China’s Water Resources Law in Transition. (Doctoral thesis), Utrecht University, UtrechtGoogle Scholar
  6. Dai L (2015c) Identifying and Understanding the Main Challenges for Sustainable Water Resource Management in China. Journal of Water Law 24(56):249–264Google Scholar
  7. Dai L (2014) Exploring China’s approach to implementing ‘eco-compensation’ schemes: the Lake Tai watershed as case study considered through a legal lens. Water Int 39(5):755–773CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Dai L (2012) Recovering the Costs of Water Services in the People’s Republic of China: Lessons from Article 9 of the European Union Water Framework Directive. Utrecht Law Review 8(3):102–118CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Dai L, v Rijswick HFMW, Driessen PPJ, Keessen AM (2017) Governance of the Sponge City Programme in China with Wuhan as a case study. International Journal of Water Resources Development:1–19Google Scholar
  10. Du N (2010) Integrating Surface Water Management in Urban and Regional Planning, Case Study of Wuhan in China. ITC dissertation number 164. EnschedeGoogle Scholar
  11. FAO. 2016. AQUASTAT website. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).Google Scholar
  12. Ferris RJ Jr, Zhang H (2002) Reaching out to the rule of law: China’s continuing efforts to develop an effective environmental law regime. Wm & Mary Bill Rts J 11(2):569–602Google Scholar
  13. Huan Q (2011) Regional supervision centres for environmental protection in China: Functions and limitations. J Current Chinese Affairs 40(3):139–162CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Ministry of Environmental Protection (2008) Guidance on Prevention and Solution to the Trans-Province Water Pollution Disputes, issued by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. In: 2008 No.64Google Scholar
  15. Moore S (2014) Hydropolitics and Inter-Jurisdictional Relationships in China: The Pursuit of Localized Preferences in a Centralized System. China Quart 218(August 2014):1–21Google Scholar
  16. Peng S (2010) China’s Legal System for Water Management: Basic Challenges and Policy Recommendations. International J Water Res Dev 26(1):3–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Shen D, Min J (2016) Lake management organizations in China. International J Water Res Dev 32(1):153–166. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. State Council (2008) General Planning of Integrated Water Environment Management in Tai Lake Basin (revised in 2013)Google Scholar
  19. State Council (2011) Regulation on the Administration of the Tai Lake Basin. Accessed 29 Apr 2018
  20. State Council (2015) Guiding Opinions of the General Office of the State Council on Advancing the Construction of Sponge Cities, State Council, 2015, No. 75. Accessed 29 Apr 2018
  21. Tai P, Ellis L (2011) Taihu: Green Wash or Green Clean? Accessed 29 April 2018
  22. Wei X (2015) ‘Sponge City’ program set to soak up urban floodwater Accessed 29 Apr 2018
  23. Yu J, Yu Z (2015) Wuhan Issued Water Resource and Water Environment Bulletin. Retrieved from
  24. Xu K, Kong C, Liu G, Wu C, Deng H, Zhang Y, Zhuang Q (2010) Changes of urban wetlands in Wuhan, China, from 1987 to 2005. Progr Phys Geogr 34(2):207–220CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Liping Dai
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tianbao Qin
    • 3
  1. 1.Center for Chinese Public Administration Research, School of GovernmentSun Yat-sen UniversityGuangzhouChina
  2. 2.Utrecht Centre for Water, Oceans and Sustainability LawUtrecht UniversityUtrechtThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Research Institute of Environmental LawWuhan UniversityWuhanChina

Personalised recommendations