Estimates of non-point source (NPS) contribution to total water pollution in China range up to 81% for nitrogen and to 93% for phosphorus. We believe these values are too high, reflecting (a) misuse of estimation techniques that were developed in America under very different conditions and (b) lack of specificity on what is included as NPS. We compare primary methods used for NPS estimation in China with their use in America. Two observations are especially notable: empirical research is limited and does not provide an adequate basis for calibrating models nor for deriving export coefficients; the Chinese agricultural situation is so different than that of the United States that empirical data produced in America, as a basis for applying estimation techniques to rural NPS in China, often do not apply. We propose a set of national research and policy initiatives for future NPS research in China.
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