Preventing emissions vs improving water quality?

What is the Difference?

We certainly often hear the term better to prevent than cure. Of course, we all agree on that. But what about improving quality, is that better than preventing?

A researcher named Dan Pan tries to compare 2 different environmental regulations on environmental impacts. One of the regulations is based on environmental quality limits. the other is based on the market, but we will call it improving water quality because it gives reward and punishment on environmental performance.

>> Preventing based regulation is called NKEFAP (National Key Ecological Functional Areas Policy)

>> Improving quality regulation is called TPEFAP (Transfer Payment of Ecological Functional Areas Policy). 

Preventing emissions vs improving water quality
Preventing emissions vs improving water quality

Preventing Emissions

NKEFAP in principle limits emissions so as not to exceed environmental standards in the area. As for several policies carried out.

• Restrictions or closings of companies that violate environmental quality standards

• Restricted areas must protect their water

• Implementing comprehensive water conservation

• Strengthens water recovery and protection

• Official performance is assessed from environmental indicators (water quality and soil erosion rate)

Improving water quality

TPEFAP demands the government to provide fees for ecological protection. Give awards to mayors whose evaluation scores are good, and adequate, whose evaluations are bad. There are several parameters defined in determining water quality such as

• COD intensity

• Grade III water quality

• Compliance with industrial wastewater standards

The research was conducted for 10 years from 2006 to 2016. The data taken are

• water quality (water pollution index, COD, Dissolve Oxygen (DO) and NH3),

• different environmental regulations and

• Other variables that affect water quality (such as rain content, ambient temperature, gross domestic product, population density).


The results showed that environmental regulations based on improving quality (TPEFAP) had a better impact on reducing COD than preventing regulations (NKEFAP).

The reward and punishment system in compensation-based regulations causes local governments to be more active in improving water quality in their regions. This regulation is longterm whereas restriction based regulations are temporary and prone to be violated.

However, these two regulations have only been proven effective in reducing water pollution originating from the industry. Meanwhile, pollution from other points such as agriculture cannot yet be handled.

Improving quality regulations provide better results but require a lot of funding too. Therefore, the central government must monitor periodically in order to allocate funding appropriately.


Each region has different waste and environmental conditions. So one regulation cannot be applied to other regions. An example of a country that has implemented ecosystem protection specifically is Costa Rica.

This is relevant to SO2 emission data in China. At the beginning of the industrial revolution in China, the impact of SO2 increased rapidly to become the highest in the world. However, gradually, SO2 emissions in China decreased drastically.

Also read: Why air pollution can make you broke

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