China’s Water Worries

Published on Author greenwoodp14

In class recently we have discussed the fact that the overwhelming majority of Chinese water is polluted. In fact, China’s Ministry of Environmental Protection recently reported that 68% of China’s groundwater is characterized as bad or very bad. Furthermore, more than half (17 of China’s 31 major freshwater lakes) are characterized as polluted (BusinessWeek). Villagers from Sahecun, in southern China, are suffering from hideous swellings caused by heavy metal pollution from a mine that closed a decade ago. Huang Guiqiang, 58, said: 'The lumps over my body are incredibly painful, and interspersed occasionally with periods where I can't feel anything at all in my body'

This unsafe drinking water has led to a wide array of problems for those who consume this water, including aching bones and swelling across the body. This has become so harmful that some Chinese citizens have become confined to bed and unable to work, because it made them feel so weak and listless (Daily Mail). 

Due to the fact that much of China’s water is polluted as well as the fact that China has encountered a massive water shortage (Water per capita in amounts to only 286 cubic meters annually, much less than the 500 cubic meter minimum), much of the population turns to purified water bottles for drinking water. However, China’s Food and Drug Administration recently “found excessive bacteria in purified water products from China’s biggest drinks maker” (News 24). Chinese regulators found almost 25% of all “purified drinking water” from the major Chinese water bottle producers to be contaminated and unsafe to drink.






2 Responses to China’s Water Worries

  1. Purified water is first and foremost a marketing strategy. This is yet one more area where government regulation is helpful, because unless there’s a powerful industry association that can pay for credible testing — not the norm in China — private parties are unlikely to pay for such information. So there are firms that just are sloppy about purification, others that are incompetent, and others that are frauds or do only enough to make the water look / smell OK, crude filtering. Add to the mixture counterfeit producers who copy and add the label of otherwise reputable firms….
    So shortage … which can also mean a failure to charge for water useage, including municipal users. So farmers and others don’t use water efficiently, and urban areas can’t finance proper treatment.

  2. Bottled water usually ends up taking a lot more water to produce one bottle than tap water. I imagine if this trend of bottled water consumption continues, water issues will only get worse in China. The government needs to intervene with some sort of regulation/purification or this seems like it will be a huge problem for China in the future.