A farmer works on a polluted river in Shanghai, China March 21, 2016. Reuters

China announced Sunday it will call on local government officials called “river chiefs” to clean and prevent further pollution from entering its waterways across the country. The river chiefs will be tasked with protecting water resources, preventing pollution, and restoring the ecology, Reuters reported Monday. The Chinese government hopes to put the environmental initiative into effect throughout the entire country by the end 2018.

The move represents the latest attempt from Chinese government officials to alleviate the level of pollution being emitted from factories. These factories are reportedly releasing an abundant amount of smog into the air and contaminating waterways and the soil.

"New problems have mushroomed along with fast economic and social development, including excessive discharging of pollutants into rivers and lakes," said Zhou Xuewen, a representative of the Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Environmental Protection, at a press conference Monday.

The Chinese government will hire officials to serve as river chiefs at the provincial, city, country and township levels of the government. Those selected to head the provincial regions will be asked to maintain these environmental regulations in all rivers and lakes located in his or her region. Their job performance will be based on whether environmental damages transpire in their regions’ water bodies under their watch. And their names and responsibilities will be available to the public to advance accountability.

China saw its first river chief in 2007 when the central government appointed local officials to assuage the pollution problem in the Taihu Lake in the Jiangsu Province in eastern China where blue algae had broken out.

The Chinese government continued to utilize river chiefs in several regions containing imperative water resources in order to enforce environmental regulations and improve coordination of its waterways, Xinhua news agency reported Monday.

The burning of coal had the most crippling health impact to the Chinese population among all sources of air pollution in the country as it caused 366,000 premature deaths in 2013, according to a New York Times report on Aug. 17. Outside air pollution contributed to 1.2 million premature deaths in China in 2010, with researchers saying it resulted in taking 25 million years of healthy life from the Chinese population, according to another New York Times report on April 1, 2013.

China was the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gasses, ranking at number 118 out of 178 countries in Yale University’s Environmental Performance Index from 2016, which ranks countries based on their performances on environmental issues regarding protecting the health of humans and ecosystems.