Water sources fail to make grade

Nearly two-thirds of China’s underground water, and a third of its surface water, were last year rated as unsuitable for direct human contact, the environment ministry said yesterday.

China is waging a “war on pollution” to reverse some of the environmental damage done by more than three decades of breakneck growth, but one of its biggest and costliest challenges is tackling contaminated water supplies, the ministry said.

China classifies its water supplies into six grades, and just 3 percent of the 968 sites monitored last year by the Ministry of Environmental Protection met the highest standard.

In an annual environmental bulletin, it said that 63 percent of the monitored sites ranked grade III or above, making them fit for human use.

The rest were either completely unusable, or suitable only for use in industry or irrigation.

In 2013, the ministry ranked 72 percent of surface water grade III or above, but it is not clear if the figures are comparable.

Last year’s report suggests China’s underground water quality is worsening, with the ministry classifying 61.5 percent of the 4,896 underground sites it monitored as either “relatively poor” or “very poor.”

The corresponding figure for 2013 was almost 60 percent, based on samples from 4,778 sites.

In April, China promised to raise the proportion of good quality water (rated grade III or above) to more than 70 percent in its seven major river basins, and to more than 93 percent in its urban drinking supplies, by 2020.

It promised to ban water-polluting plants in industries such as oil refining and paper production by the end of 2016, it said.

From Shanghai Daily.

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