BEIJING, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- Major Chinese rivers and lakes continued to see improvements in water quality last year as the government channeled more energy into environmental protection.
Some 73.4 percent of inland waters reached national quality standards in 2016, up from 70.8 percent in 2015 and 67.5 percent in 2014, fulfilling the yearly target, the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) said at a press conference Friday.
The ratio is expected to surpass 80 percent by 2020.
The government has been stepping up measures to control water pollution, toughening the environmental protection law and introducing a "river chief" system. But MWR official Chen Mingzhong said the task is still challenging in some regions and more efforts are needed.
Apart from water quality, China has also drawn "red lines" on the volume and efficiency of water use and implemented rigorous supervision.
Progress has been made. In 2016, the country's water consumption dropped to 604 billion cubic meters from 610 billion cubic meters the year before, and water consumption per 10,000 yuan (around 1,500 U.S. dollars) of GDP down by 7.2 percent year on year.