China's reform and opening-up strongly impact its local water resources. The most frequently stated problems are water supply scarcity and pollution issues in China's Yangtze River. What is not yet clear is the correlation between comprehensive water efficiency and its sub-stage efficiencies, water utility efficiency, and water governance efficiency. This study aims to investigate water utility and water governance together. This paper provides a fresh perspective on developing an improved DEA method called the SHAN model that evaluates and decomposes the comprehensive water efficiency to water utility efficiency and water governance efficiency for 30 cities in the Yangtze River Basin from 2005 to 2015. The SHAN model is a modified RAM network DEA model with the extra consideration of super SBM and undesirable output. Tobit model will be adopted to analyze the relationship between comprehensive water efficiency and its sub-stages. This paper uses panel quantile regression to investigate the impact of the degree of opening and other efficiency determinants. The results show that the value of water comprehensive efficiencies in most cities along Yangtze River Basin are lower than 1, as well as the water utility efficiencies and water governance efficiencies. The results indicate that the government should significantly improve water resource utilization and pollution problems. The findings also show that the degree of opening, population density, GDP per capita, urbanization, and industrial structure positively influences comprehensive water efficiency. Population urbanization lag has negative impacts on the comprehensive water efficiency. The Tobit regression results show that the water resource utilization efficiency and water resource management efficiency are 1.435 and 0.227, respectively. This result indicates that the water utility stage has a more significant effect on comprehensive water efficiency.

  • ‘SHAN’ Model is adopted to decompose and measure the comprehensive water efficiency.

  • Tobit model is adopted to analyze their interrelationship. Water utility stage significantly affects the comprehensive water efficiency.

  • The degree of opening, population density, GDP per capita, urbanization & industrial structure positively affect comprehensive water efficiency and population urbanization lag negatively affect it.

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Graphical Abstract
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