Environmental Science and Pollution Research

, Volume 25, Issue 4, pp 3078–3092 | Cite as

Amendment of water quality standards in China: viewpoint on strategic considerations

  • Xiaoli ZhaoEmail author
  • Hao Wang
  • Zhi Tang
  • Tianhui Zhao
  • Ning Qin
  • Huixian Li
  • Fengchang Wu
  • John P. Giesy
Environmental Quality Benchmarks for Aquatic Ecosystem Protection: Derivation and Application


Water quality standards (WQS) are the most important tool for protection of quality of aquatic environments in China and play a decisive role in the management of China’s aquatic environments. Due to limited scientific information available previously, WQS were developed largely based on water quality criteria (WQC) or WQS recommended by developed countries, which may not be suitable for current circumstances in China. The Chinese government recently initiated the revision of Environmental Quality Standards for Surface Water (EQSSW) (GB3838-2002) to meet the challenge of environmental protection. This review analyzed how the WQS developed and applied in China differ from those of more developed countries and pointed out that the lack of strong scientific bases for China’s WQC pose major limitations of current WQS. We focus on discussing the six aspects that require high attention on how to establish a national WQC system to support the revision of WQS (Table 1) such as development of methodology, refining water function zoning, establish priority pollutants list, improving protection drinking water sources, development of site-specific water quality criteria, and field toxicity test. It is essential that China and other developing countries established a relatively mature system for promulgating, applying, and enforcing WQC and to implement a dynamic system to incorporate most recent research results into periodically updated WQS.


Water quality standards Water quality criteria Amendment Environmental management 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 41222026, 41521003) and Science and Technology Basic Work (2014FY120600).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiaoli Zhao
    • 1
    Email author
  • Hao Wang
    • 1
  • Zhi Tang
    • 1
  • Tianhui Zhao
    • 1
  • Ning Qin
    • 1
  • Huixian Li
    • 1
  • Fengchang Wu
    • 1
  • John P. Giesy
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Environmental Criteria and Risk AssessmentChinese Research Academy of Environmental SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.Department of Veterinary Biomedical Sciences and Toxicology CentreUniversity of SaskatchewanSaskatoonCanada

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