China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Safe water promised to 100 million

China expects to bring potable water to 100 million rural residents by 2010, a state newspaper said, but that would still leave more than 200 million people with unsafe supplies. Tuesday, December 20, 2005 Via The Standard China expects to bring potable water to 100 million rural residents by 2010, a state newspaper said, but that would still leave more than 200 million people with unsafe supplies.

Plagued by droughts and shortages, China is unable to provide clean drinking water to 360 million people, with supplies affected by everything from salinity to arsenic, China Daily said Monday.

Too much fluoride in the water affects more than 63 million people in northern China, while salty water is a problem for 38 million in northern and eastern coastal regions, it said.

In other parts of the country such as the barren northwestern areas of Xinjiang, Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, some two million people are being slowly poisoned by arsenic in the water, it said.

Per capita water availability in China is about a quarter of the world average and is expected to fall further, according to state media, while less than half the waste water in the cities is treated and around 20 percent is lost through leaky pipes.

Heavy pollution of rivers across China also makes much of its available water undrinkable.

Parts of southern China have been hit this year by months of drought which destroyed farmland, dried up rivers and reservoirs and allowed salt water to wash upstream and contaminate fresh water supplies.

To alleviate China's water woes, the government is spending billions of dollars to divert supplies from the water-logged middle of the country and send it northwards through a series of giant canals.

The first stage of the scheme, known as the South-North water diversion project, is scheduled to come on line in 2010, China Daily quoted Water Resources Minister Wang Shucheng as saying. It will supply cities such as Beijing and Tianjin.

The project has, however, been affected by a lack of clean water to pump

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