Agriculture is often blamed to be a leading source of water environment degradation. However, a fundamental question: ‘Would the reduction of agricultural activities lead to the recovery of water environment?’ remains insufficiently explored. The present work addressed this issue through a comparative study on two watersheds where agricultural policy was shifted from promotion to reduction. The comparison was conducted from both historical and policy mechanism perspectives to highlight the commons and differences between the two watersheds. It was concluded that the reduction of agricultural activities could lead to opposite results if policy change is not well designed.
Keywords: water environment, agriculture, policy change, Heihe River, Lake Tega