China has announced that it will be assigning the collection and testing of water in various areas to separate institutions as part of a new approach to gather more accurate and reliable data to control water pollution.
A plan that the Ministry of Environmental Protection published Monday night says that the country has started allocating this work to different departments, as opposed to the previous case where collection and testing were done by local governments unaided.
This separate collection-test mechanism can help rule out stakeholders falsifying data in the process.
China's environmental monitoring center is expected to develop the plan, with a third party responsible for collecting surface water samples then sending them to designated labs. After the analysis, the lab will transfer the data to the center, which will notify local governments.
As of 5 pm Monday, the country had collected samples from 1,631 surface water sites, or 88 percent of its total, the ministry reported.
"As China increases its environmental protection efforts, the water pollution control results will be an important index of officials' work. This separation of collection and testing is really necessary to avoid the old method of the monitoring of water being controlled by the local governments," Ma Jun, director of the Public and Environmental Affairs Institute, told the Global Times.
The country has shifted its focus from emissions reductions to environmental quality, which means accurate data now plays a crucial role in realizing pollution control goals, added Ma.
China's water quality improved in 2016, but still falls behind people's expectations, the Xinhua News Agency reported in March.
Zhang Bo, head of the environmental protection ministry's water environment division, told a press conference that 67.8 percent of the surface water sites got a Grade I - III rating, or relatively good quality in 2016, according to the Xinhua News Agency in March.
This was slightly highser than the 66 percent for 2015, and above the 66.5 percent goal for 2016, Zhang noted.
"Overall surface water quality has improved but the challenges still exist in some regions. A credit standard should also be formulated to regulate the third party institutions," Ma added.