The supply of safe drinking water to China is facing severe
threats, a top health official said yesterday.
The challenges include already scarce water reserves still being
drained by rising industrial production, environmental pollution
and a damaged ecology, Vice Health Minister Chen Xiaohong told a
national forum on environment and health in Beijing.
China supports about 22 percent of the world's population, but
has only seven percent of its water supply. Most urban
water-purifying facilities are backward and cities are failing to
properly monitor and test drinking water, according to Chen.
Many rural residents still have to drink water that either has a
high fluorine and arsenic content or is tainted with blood fluke,
China's total water volume stands at 2.8 trillion cubic meters,
of which 840 billion cubic meters can be used, Duan Hongdong,
deputy head of the Ministry of Water Resources' planning
department, told the central government's Website on Tuesday.
Duan cited a recent national survey and assessment on water
quality. Annual demand for water in recent years has averaged 550
billion to 560 billion cubic meters nationwide, Duan said.
Industrial use is increasing, while agricultural use is
The water resources ministry is considering a national system to
conserve and improve the ecology related to water supply, he
Chen said the country's short supply of drinking water is
worsened by environmental pollution and an upset ecological balance
mainly caused by the country's economic boom of the past
Authorities have blamed pollution for the outbreak of blue algae
in Taihu Lake in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, in May that shut tap-water
supplies to millions of people. There were nearly 10,000
enterprises operating around the lake before the outbreak. In the
mid-1990s, massive amounts of sewage were dumped in the lake.
November 22, 2007)