Most of China’s underground water is of poor quality, with 80 percent unfit to drink due to pollution and overexploitation, a government report said, according to Chinese media.
The Ministry of Water Resources said in a report that a survey of water wells done last year showed that ammonia, nitrites, and nitrates are the major pollutants, while heavy metals and toxic organic compounds were also found in some areas.
The report also said that China’s underground water has been over-extracted. In January 2016, underground water reserves in China’s major plains had decreased by 8.24 billion cubic meters (approximately 8.24 billion tons) in one year.
Previous statistics from the Ministry of Land and Resources show that nearly 70 percent of Chinese people drink water from underground sources.
“In Chinese cities, drinking water often comes from deep underground sources, which are not easily polluted, but in the countryside, people often drink shallow underground water where pollution has a bigger impact,” said Ma Jun, head of the Beijing-based Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Treating polluted underground water is very difficult, Ma said. He also warned that overexploitation might result in secondary disasters like rock fractures and caves-in.