Water Governance

Water Governance

An Evaluation of Alternative Architectures

Edited by Asanga Gunawansa and Lovleen Bhullar

This insightful book explores urban water governance challenges in different parts of the world and highlights the advantages and disadvantages of publicly run, privatized, and public–private partnership managed water facilities.

Chapter 9: Urban water governance in China: legal and policy framework

Lovleen Bhullar

Subjects: economics and finance, environmental economics, environment, environmental economics, environmental governance and regulation, water


Home to one-fifth of the world’s population (1.34 billion people in 2010), the People’s Republic of China (PRC or China) has witnessed a rapid increase in its urban population since 1978, when less than 20 percent of the population was living in cities. By the end of 2008, there were 607 million urban residents, accounting for 45.7 percent of China’s total population (ADB, 2010). Based on current trends, China’s urban population is projected to cross the 1 billion mark in 2030 and there will be eight megacities by 2025, each with a population of over 10 million (Woetzel et al., 2009). This population growth and rapid urbanization has led to an increase in the demand for water and water-related infrastructure. But China has only 7 percent of the world’s water and 26 percent of the world’s per capita water resources, unevenly distributed in spatial terms. The total annual renewable water resources of China are 2830 km3/year and the per capita renewable water resources stand at a mere one-fifth of the world average (that is, 2100m3). Around 100 million urban residents do not have access to safe water. Over 400 of the 667 cities suffer from water shortage. Half of the ground water in urban areas is polluted in various degrees (Wang, 2008).

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