While air pollution in China is a major health problem that is visible and internationally famous, water and soil pollution remains relatively guarded by the Chinese government.
A new report has revealed that currently at least 60% of China’s underground water resources meet “very poor” or “relatively poor” quality standards. These water tanks are not able to be used for drinking directly, revealing the deep environmental crisis in the country.
In April, cancer-inducing benzene was found in the water supply of the city of Lanzhou, considered to be one of the most polluted in the country.
Officials in Wenzhou are still trying to find the cause of the water and air pollution, but Yixiu Wu, who tracks water-pollution issues for Greenpeace, told Voice of America, “I think the water-pollution problem is no longer a remote problem in the countryside," he said. "It’s going to start affecting everyone. Even the people in the cities.”
However, cleaning these water systems is a costly affair. Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs explains that ”groundwater is an extremely important source for water use, including drinking water, and if it gets contaminated, it’s very costly and difficult to clean”.
While Beijing’s notorious smog has become infamous worldwide, drought and water pollution may pose even greater threats to the city. Beijing’s annual per capita water availability is about 120 cubic metres, about one-fifth of the UN’s cut-off line for "absolute scarcity".
The following heartbreaking images show how bad China's water pollution has become.
[Images via Reuters]