Water scarcity ranks as one of China's most serious problems today and in the foreseeable future. Rapid urbanization and industrialization and the attendant problems of overconsumption, pollution and inefficient water use have driven and will continue to drive China's water crisis. Most scholars assert that improving water governance is the key to water security in developing countries including China. However, there are very few empirical studies to support this claim. We compare water governance in 10 Chinese provinces in terms of 17 indicators of water laws, policies and administration based on a survey of 89 water experts. We then explore the effects of water governance on water sector performance in terms of adequacy of drinking water, availability of water resources and water productivity. Our findings are consistent with the literature and our expectations but more rigorous studies are needed to establish causal links between governance mechanisms and performance.