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83% of Chinese urban tap water safe to drink: official

(Xinhua)

08:28, May 11, 2012

BEIJING, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Up to 83 percent of China's urban drinking water is safe to drink, a Chinese water quality official told Xinhua Thursday in response to recent questions on urban tap water quality.

Shao Yisheng, director of the Urban Water Quality Monitoring Center under the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MHURD), said China's urban water supply is generally safe, citing figures from the results of quality inspections conducted in 2011.

The center has tested tap water samples from water plants that provided 80 percent of the Chinese urban public water supply and found that 83 percent of the tap water provided by these plants is qualified under a newly-revised standard for drinking water quality, said Shao.

The new standard, which is generally close to that of developed countries, was revised and issued by the Ministry of Health in 2006 and is set to take effect from July this year.

The standard has increased the number of water quality indicators to 106 from the previous 35 and imposes stricter limits, according to Shao.

"The new standards have boosted the quality of China's urban water supply," said Shao. In a water quality check carried out by the MHURD between 2008 and 2009, only 58.2 percent of the water tested was qualified under the new standard.

The government is also working to improve tap water quality through other measures, including preventing water sources from being polluted, upgrading pipes and other equipment and strengthening emergency response, which requires stronger investment, more advanced technology and stricter management, said Shao.

Concerns over drinking water safety were raised after Century Weekly, a magazine under Caixin Media, reported this week that the water quality of at least 1,000 tap water providers in cities did not meet relevant standards, citing the results of a MHURD drinking water survey in 2009 that covered more than 4,000 water plants, which was provided by another official from the center.

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