The market for water treatment products in China will soar to 42 billion yuan in 2012, as the world’s most populous nation struggles to increase its access to fresh water and improve the deplorable condition of the surface water sources that supply most of its water needs, according to a study by The Freedonia Group ( The study predicts continued double-digit annual growth for every major product category in every significant market will enable China to grow from being a developing market to the world’s third largest outlet for water treatment chemicals, equipment, and supplies, trailing only the United States and Japan.

According to the study, titled Water Treatment in China, the industrial sector accounts for over half of the water treatment market in China. However, gains in every market are expected to be robust due to efforts to use water more
efficiently. Although such efforts will reduce industrial water usage on a per production unit basis, overall industrial water usage will grow 15 percent per year due to sustained expansion of the Chinese industrial economy. Industrial water users, such as paper mills and metal processing concerns, are expected to implement more aggressive reclamation projects that will allow for the recovery of pulp for use in papermaking and the collection of precious metals normally lost with traditional processing methods, in addition to allowing for reduced wastewater discharges and overall water savings. Freedonia predicts such efforts will lead to growth for chemicals, such as biocides and chelating agents, as well as advanced filtration and membrane systems.

The municipal water treatment market is also expected to grow rapidly due in large part to the continued expansion of the nation’s water supply and wastewater treatment infrastructure. Although most of China’s cities have at least one wastewater treatment plant, most towns do not, and such facilities are rarer yet in rural areas. Access to improved water supplies has broadened demonstrably in the past two decades, but there is still considerable room for growth in this regard, according to Freedonia. Moreover, China’s citizens, as they become more affluent, are coming to expect better quality water from municipal supply systems, and efforts are underway to meet those expectations, which is expected to boost demand for filtration systems and a broad range of treatment chemicals. Freedonia says even seawater desalination, often considered impractical because of its capital and energy costs, is being considered to address the dire situation of China’s water supply.