Water is one of the basic natural resources and a strategic economic one. According to Chinese law (The Constitution and The 2002 Water Law), water resources are national properties and the state government has the responsibility to administer and protect them. At present, water administration is shared by several ministries of the State Council and called “nine dragons administer water”. This paper illustrates the overall water administration scheme. It focuses on the overlapping mandates and interactions between various ministries, particularly those between the Ministry of Water Resources (MWR) and the State Environment Protection Administration (SEPA). The paper then analyzes the reasons why conflicts and disputes over ministry policies and strategies occur and the resultant lowering of administration efficiency and degradation of the water environment. Considering the complexity of water administration and the multiple demands on and limited water resources, some trends must be developed in water administration institutions to improve the efficiency of water administration. In particular, water administration must be strengthened and unified; administrative power must be separated from supervisory power; watershed management and planning must be strengthened; and cooperation among the related water departments must be increased.

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