Industrial wastewaters threatening the sustainability of society have increasingly become a key social issue across the globe. Consequently, countermeasures have been suggested across a broad range of research fields and policy cycles in both industrialized and industrializing countries. Thus, identifying factors that drive reductions in industrial wastewater discharge is a key task in the water research and policymaking fields. In contrast to previous studies that have focused on reducing industrial wastewater discharge through techniques, policy, management, and other tools, the aim of this study was to investigate the effect of transport infrastructure development, particularly high-speed railways (HSR), on industrial sewage discharge. Given the rapid development of high-speed railways in China and the country’s severe water pollution, China was our research context, and our sample was 298 prefecture-level Chinese cities during the period 1999–2018. The empirical results show that cities with high-speed railways have greater reductions in industrial wastewaters, and that these effects are weakened in cities with a more developed economy and information environment. The results are consistent when using different methods to test their robustness, such as time-varying difference-in-difference (DID), instrumental variables, and placebo tests. These findings offer useful guidance for practitioners and policymakers in the management of water resources and the development of transport infrastructure in cities. These results contribute to the literature in the field of water management and to the assessment of the broader effect of high-speed railways.
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