Most northern plain groundwater unsafe to drink

08:16, November 05, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

Only 24 percent of groundwater in the North China Plain is safe to drink, a recent study by the China Geological Survey shows.

The four-year study found groundwater in the area has been tainted by heavy metals, chemical fertilizers and surface water pollution caused by leaks from garbage dumps and sewage water irrigation.

Zhang Zhaoji, a hydrogeology expert at the institute of hydrogeology and environmental geology under the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, said on Wednesday at the 12th annual meeting of the China Association for Science and Technology in Fuzhou, Fujian province, that the inferior quality of groundwater is damaging people's health and creating conflicts over the supply and demand for water.

Most of the shallow groundwater in the plain is polluted to some extent, though the quality of the deep groundwater is relatively good, according to the study.

The study said more than 75 percent of groundwater in the North China Plain is not safe to drink without being properly purified.

An earlier seven-year study by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on groundwater in 118 cities found 64 percent of them had groundwater that had been polluted, 33 percent was lightly polluted and 3 percent had access to a clean supply of groundwater.

Some environment experts have said the figure is conservative and estimated that 90 percent of China's groundwater is polluted.

In September, a draft plan for national groundwater protection from 2010 to 2020 was reviewed and passed by the ministry and will be submitted to the State Council for consideration and approval.

The draft plan aims to alleviate the pollution of groundwater in populated areas and put in place a national prevention and treatment system for polluted groundwater by 2020.

While acknowledging the government's efforts, many environmental experts said they remain concerned about the long-term damage polluted groundwater posed to people's health, as well as about the water supply itself.

Ma Jun, director of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said it is difficult to filter out pollutants like heavy metals. Once the water has been polluted, he said it could possibly take thousands of years for the situation to be put right.

According to the Ministry of Health's Key Endemic Disease Control Program (2004-2010), there are approximately 39 million people across the country who suffer from dental discoloration or fluorosis as a result of having received too much fluoride in water during their developmental years and nearly 3 million people suffer from the bone disease skeletal fluorosis as a result of the same cause.

By Wang Qian, China Daily

(Editor:梁军)

  • Do you have anything to say?

双语词典
dictionary

  
Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • Chinese Navy soldiers hold an evening party marking the upcoming 62nd National Day aboard Chinese Navy hospital ship "Peace Ark" in the Pacific on Sept. 28, 2011. The Chinese National Day falls on Oct. 1. (Xinhua/Zha Chunming)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 30, 2011 shows the crowd at the plaza of Beijing Railway Station in Beijing, capital of China. The railway transportation witnessed a travel peak with the approach of the seven-day National Day holidays on Friday. (Xinhua)
  • A man wearing high-heel shoes takes part in the 3rd annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, an event when men literally walk in women's shoes to raise awareness about ending violence against women, at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto, Canada, Sept. 29, 2011. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)
  • Photo taken on Sept. 29, 2011 shows a cargo ship in danger on the sea near Zhuhai City, south China's Guangdong Province. Cargo ship Fangzhou 6 of Qingzhou of southwest China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region lost control after water stormed into its cabin due to Typhoon Nesat on the sea near Zhuhai Thursday, leaving 12 crew members in danger. Rescuers rushed to the ship and saved them by using a helicopter. (Xinhua)
  • Actress Gong Li poses for L'Officiel Magazine. (Xinhua Photo)
  • Demonstrators from the Occupy Wall Street campaign hold placards as they march in the financial district of New York September 29, 2011. After hundreds of protesters were denied access to some areas outside the New York Stock Exchange on September 17, demonstrators set up a rag-tag camp three blocks away. Zuccotti Park is a campground festooned with placards and anti-Wall Street slogans. The group is adding complaints of excessive police force against protesters and police treatment of ethnic minorities and Muslims to its grievances list, which includes bank bailouts, foreclosures and high unemployment. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Hot Forum Discussion