Traditional research on lake eutrophication has failed to consider the effect of the south-to-north water transfer project (SNWTP) policy; thus, the difference-in-differences (DID) model, which is usually applied to economic factors, was innovatively introduced to evaluate the effect of such policies on lake eutrophication. Nansi Lake and Dongping Lake in the Shandong Peninsula were selected as the experimental group, and Daming Lake and Mata Lake were selected as the control group. The eutrophication indices of the experimental group and the control group were calculated by the measured chlorophyll-a, total phosphorus, total nitrogen, water transparency and chemical oxygen demand data and used as the explanatory variables of the DID model. Nine environmental and socio-economic factors, such as dissolved oxygen and rural population, were selected as the control variables of the DID model to analyze the impact of the SNWTP policy on lake eutrophication. A joint consideration of environmental and socio-economic factors showed that the eutrophication degree of the experimental lakes deteriorated by 7.10% compared with the control under the influence of the implemented policy. Dissolved oxygen is the main factor affecting the eutrophication of the Shandong Peninsula. This study verifies that the DID model has the potential for use in quantitative analyses of the effect of the SNWTP policy on lake eutrophication.
Using DID model to estimate the impact of policy on lake eutrophication is reasonable.
Eutrophication deteriorated by 7.10% under the effect of policy and control variables.
DO is the key control variables influencing the eutrophication of the Shandong Peninsula.