in Myanmar

Establishing surface water quality standards

Background and objective

Myanmar has been facing considerable challenges in management of the environment due to increasing domestic and international investments in industrial and urban/rural development sectors. In order to establish legal and institutional framework to manage environmental issues, the Government of Myanmar enacted the Environmental Conservation Law in 2012, established the Environmental Conservation Department (ECD) under the Ministry of Environmental Conservation and Forestry (MOECAF) in the same year, and issued the Environmental Conservation Rules in 2014. For the protection of human and ecosystem health, MOECAF notified the Environmental Impact Assessment Procedure and the National Environment Quality (Emission) Guidelines (EQEG) in 2015. In 2016, MOECAF was reorganized to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Conservation (MONREC) to expand its mandate to natural resources management. In the Section 10 of the Environmental Conservation Law, the ministry is, with the approval of the Union Government and the Committee, supposed to stipulate the environmental quality standards.

Up to date, however, those standards are not stipulated, except for guidelines values of effluents notified in the EQEG. The lack of standards has made it difficult to properly evaluate the current status of water environment and develop control measures against water quality deterioration. Also, while there exist effluent values in the EQEG, the target water environment which the country aims to achieve by imposing those effluent limits is not clear without such standards.

Efforts have been made by ECD to establish ambient water quality standards, with the technical assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) which was ended in 2018. Consultations have been made for the proposed standards in the Environmental Quality Standards Technical Development Sub-Committee chaired by Director General of ECD and consisting of officials from relevant line ministries. Further review is required to finalize the standards and lay a foundation for better water environmental governance.
Another challenge is developing capacity of ECD staffs for advanced water quality monitoring and laboratory analysis. Policy measures should be developed based on the science-based knowledge to be attained through evaluating results of systematic monitoring. Areas for further improvement are how ECD state/region offices improve the quality in measurements and interpretation of obtained data. Under such circumstances, the ECD requests WEPA to support the proposed activities in the WEPA Action Program.

The overall objectives of the WEPA Action Program are the targeted water environment that the country aims to achieve is formalized and capacity to monitor the achievement of such targets is enhanced.


The WEPA Action Program in Myanmar is implementing following specific activities:

Stipulation of the National Surface Water Quality Standards

Review of existing monitoring data and analytical capacity of laboratories;

Expert review of proposed standards;

Study Japan and other Asian experiences;

Develop revised proposals for Environmental Quality Standards Technical Development Sub-Committee; and

The activities focus on elaborating surface water quality standards including rivers, lakes and marine water, building upon current works by ECD. The work benefits from expertise accumulated in WEPA including experts in the WEPA advisory board. Networks of WEPA bring Japan and other Asian experiences and lessons into the process. Interim outputs of the activities are revised proposals of ambient water quality standards to be submitted to the Environmental Quality Standards Technical Development Sub-Committee. The Action Program also undertakes consideration of legally-binding effluent standards to achieve proposed surface water quality standards.

Enhanced capacity of ECD in water quality monitoring and assessment

Develop guidelines for water body classification and monitoring

Conduct trainings for region/state officers

ECD region/state offices play a central role in the classification of water bodies based on water usage, to which corresponding water quality standards for the living environment are applied and monitored. Guidelines are developed for harmonized and adequate way of classification and monitoring. Based on the guidelines, tailored training for state/region ECD officers is organized. Monitoring of ambient water quality standards entails standardized sampling and measurements, and statistical analysis of obtained data. Those methods are introduced and shared in the training.


  • Stipulation of the National Surface Water Quality Standards
  • Enhanced capacity of ECD in water quality monitoring and assessment


Report of WEPA Action Program in 2021 (1.2 Mbite)