In recent years, China has launched ambitious measures to tackle water pollution. As political commitment and public investment soared, Chinese environmental scientists and practitioners have engaged in a substantial debate on the reorganization of the country's water management system. Domestic discussion has largely revolved around best practices adopted abroad, particularly in the European Union (EU), where the Water Framework Directive (WFD) has introduced an integrated management model based on the core concept of unity of the water cycle. This paper seeks to contribute to this debate, by appraising the regulatory, administrative, monitoring, and public participation dimensions of China's water environmental management. Related progress and constraints are discussed in the evolving context of Chinese environmental policies, against the background of the relevant EU experience. Regulatory and administrative coordination and integration, and the adoption of a watershed-based management model, appear at present as essential prerequisites to overcome the fragmentation of China's water environmental management. Despite recent efforts in this direction, institutional rationalization is still hampered by the persistence of conflicting interests and attributions among government bodies concurring to law making and implementation.