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National Water Functional Zoning Approved
Recently, the State Council approved the National Water Functional Zoning of Key Rivers and Lakes (2011 - 2030), which is jointly compiled by the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Environmental Protection, and the National Development and Reform Commission. The Zoning provides important basis for the establishment of strict water resource management institution, the development, utilization and protection of water resources, the control of water pollution, as well as the integrated management of water environment.

The zoning scope includes main streams and branches of key rivers, important waterfront natural reserves at national and provincial level, Ramsar wetlands of international importance, national protection zone of germ plasm resources of aquatic products, water source areas for inter-basin water transfer and key drinking water sources, national key lakes and reservoirs, key inter-provincial boundary waters, and estuarine waters.

The Zoning includes two hierarchical systems. The first level system classifies water functional zones into four types, i.e., protection zone, conservation zone, development zone, and buffer zone, and the second level system defines seven types of water functional zones within the development zone, including drinking water zone, industrial water zone, agricultural water zone, fishery water zone, landscape and recreational water zone, transition zone, pollution control zone. There are totally 4,493 water zones in China, and the target is the water quality of 81% zones would be no lower than class Ⅲ.

The Zoning clarifies that the development activities which affect the protection of water resource, the protection of natural ecological system, as well as the protection of endangered and valuable species shall be prohibited in the protection zone; as sustainable water resource for future utilization, the water quality of the conservation zone should be generally maintained; development activities in the buffer zone shall not influence the function of its neighboring zones in principle. Activities which could affect the water quality of other neighboring zones should perform the examination and approval procedure, and relevant departments along the river should put forward treatment opinions also. 

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