Nowadays, water pollution has become a major factor restricting social development. To address this, the government has issued a series of policy documents to control water environmental pollution and achieved certain results. However, on the whole, the prevention and control of the pollution of water environments requires a large amount of capital investment, but the corresponding results and benefits are not significant. Hence, this paper takes Shanghai, Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Hefei as examples to study the financial cost-effectiveness of the governance of urban water environments from the two dimensions of time and space. It is concluded that the cost of water environmental treatment has a negative effect on the comprehensive benefit of environmental treatment in the region in the short term and a positive effect in the long term, which indicates that water environmental pollution treatment is a work that needs to be adhered to for a long time, and long-term planning is also needed for cost input. On this basis, strategies to improve the cost efficiency of water pollution treatment are presented.

  • There may be missing or unmeasurable control variables, which will lead to the random error term including the influencing factors of environmental benefit.

  • The cost of the governance of water environments has a negative effect in the short term and a positive effect in the long term.

  • It is also necessary to optimize the top-level design of water environmental pollution control in the lower Yangtze River Economic Belt.

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