Expert: Half of Chinese Cities Have Polluted Groundwater

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The rapid development of urbanization and regional economies has increased demands on local water resources, while simultaneously causing deterioration in the quality of urban groundwater in many cities.

Wang Bingchen of China's Institute of Geotechnical Investigation and Surveying (CIGIS) made this observation at a national geotechnical investigation workshop on November 30 where he noted that, although pollution levels vary, in half of China’s 660 cities, groundwater has been significantly polluted and some cities are facing a water crisis. Water shortage threatens over 400 Chinese cities, 136 of which are experiencing severe shortages. China’s water shortage is caused by numerous reasons, including relatively little precipitation, slow progress on water projects, uneven water distribution and a deteriorating environment, Wang said.

Groundwater has been exploited and utilized by more than 400 Chinese cities, and plays a vital role in urban water supply systems, accounting for 30 percent of the total volume of urban water usage with an especially high proportion of 72 percent and 66 percent in northern and northwestern cities, respectively.

China possesses freshwater reserves totaling 2.81 trillion cubic meters, the fourth richest such reserves in the world after Brazil, Russia and Canada; however, the country's per capita water resources quota is only 2,300 cubic meters, 25 percent of the world's average. Additionally, availability varies significantly throughout China--with per capita water volume in the north only about 10 percent of the global average, according to David F. Hales at Worldwatch Institute. Furthermore, China is the biggest water consumer, with freshwater usage reaching 550 billion in 2002, 13 percent of the world’s total usage.