Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 10-2014


It is well-known that the water pollution of the Yangtze River basin is significant. Studies have shown that from the upper river to the lower river, the water volume decreases, the intensity of development is higher, and the pollution is more profound. Studies also find that pollution is even more significant in transboundary areas at the intersection of provinces and large cities. The Yangtze Estuary lies at the end of the lower river of the Yangtze River, where the waters flow directly into the East China Sea. The location is also at the transboundary cross-section of Jiangsu Province and Shanghai. Consequently, the water pollution in this region is the most serious. The Yangtze River Estuary not only provides drinking water to a vast number of people, but it also serves multiple other functions, including agricultural irrigation, tourism, inhabitation and aquaculture, and plays a pivotal role in local social and economic development and in people’s wellbeing in general. Directly or indirectly, the serious pollution of the aquatic environment in Yangtze River Estuary exerts negative influence on the socio-economic function of the Estuary and the neighboring areas. At the same time, the polluted water flows directly into the East China Sea, causing serious pollution and damage to the marine environment. In order to help policymakers and stakeholders have a better appreciation of the heavy economic loss and damage caused by rapid economic development, this paper uses Chong Ming County of Shanghai as the study area, applying the concentration-loss model developed by James. We assess the economic losses caused by water pollution in the Yangtze Estuary from 2005 to 2013. We find that the economic sector most significantly affected by various pollutants is tourism, while the pollutant causing the greatest damage to the various functions of ChongMing County is chemical oxygen demand (COD). Based on this assessment and considering Shanghai’s strategic plan to designate ChongMing County as an “ecotourism county” and the “garden of Shanghai”, we point out that the county has already suffered significant economic loss as a result of the water pollution in the Yangtze Estuary. According to the estimated loss rate, the county has lost almost all of its tourism function and life water function. The inhabitation function also exhibits very severe damage. The loss of these functions also inhibits the development of industries such as catering, hospitality, trade and commerce, culture, etc. We conclude that the economic development of the upper river has brought with it tremendous economic cost and losses suffered by ChongMing County. This will impede significantly the realization of the current strategic goal of Shanghai. Therefore, we offer five suggestions. First, the government should develop a rational management mechanism for the Yangtze Estuary environment. Second, in order to curb with appropriate urgency the pollution of the Yangtze River aquatic environment, the government should develop transboundary compensation mechanisms. Third, researchers in this field should focus on the study of relevant theories and methodologies of assessing economic loss from water pollution. Fourth, educational institutions such as universities should address the needs of society and adjust their curricula to include subjects like environmental statistics, environmental economics, environmental information, environmental management technology, pollutant treatment technology, etc., to train more high-level professionals in relevant fields. Last, professional administration departments should strengthen cooperation with research departments, thus enabling the result of scientific research to play its due part in the real world.


Dr. Xiaoli Zhang, Professor and Vice-Director, Center for Ocean Economy, Shanghai Ocean University is also an Editorial Board Member for the Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics, which is produced by the Center for the Blue Economy. Dr. Zhang served as a 2013-2014 Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Blue Economy.