Monitoring 4,778 locations in 203 cities, the ministry said that underground water quality was “relatively poor” in 43.9 percent of locations, meaning the water required treatment before human consumption. 15.7 percent of locations rated “very poor,” meaning the water should not be consumed. The total of 59.6 percent of locations with inadequate water quality compares to 2012’s total of 57.4 percent.
The report confirmed that China’s water, like its soil and air, is contaminated by industrial growth. Benzene was found in the tap water of Lanzhou, a city with a population of 3.6 million, earlier in April. And a 2012 chemical spill at a Changzhi fertilizer factory shut down the water supply of the city of Handan, with over one million people.
The report reinforced fears that Chinese industrial facilities -- particularly those along waterways -- were threatening the nation’s water supply.
Since its release Tuesday, the report has become a lively topic of conversation in online discussion, with many readers commenting on the government’s environmental and water management policies.