More than 70 percent of China's rivers and lakes are polluted to different degrees, aggregating water resources shortage and threatening the drinking water safety, Wang Shucheng, minister of Water Resources said in east China's Suzhou city on December 22.
"Currently, 300 million Chinese people are drinking unsafe water, among which 190 million are drinking water with harmful substances above set standards," Wang said at a conference for directors of water resources bureaus.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the government has solved drinking water issues for 273 million rural residents, sources with the conference said, adding Chinese government has allocated more than 18 billion yuan (2.17 billion US dollars) to build 800,000 drinking water projects in rural areas since 2000.
However, Zhai Haohui, vice-minister of Water Resources, said the drinking water safety in many rural areas has not been guaranteed yet. "More than 63 million peasants living in north, northwest, northeast and east China plains are drinking water with fluorine above set standard," he said.
In addition, 60 million people in 110 counties of Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu, Sichuan and Yunan provinces are threatened by schistomsome disease, Zhai said.
To safeguard drinking water safety is the top priority of Chinese government's efforts to protect water resources, Wang said.
The Chinese government will take measures to ensure the drinking water safety for all rural residents by 2020, he said.