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China faces grave water pollution challenges

China still faces serious water pollution challenges, despite progress over the past few years.

Of the 972 national monitoring stations, 9.2 per cent posted surface water quality below grade V last year, said Chen Changzhi, vice chairman of the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, on Thursday in a report delivered to the top legislature’s ongoing bimonthly session.

The figure was 17 percentage points lower than the level in 2005, marking significant improvement, Chen said.

China uses six classifications for water quality. Grade I is the best. Water no worse than grade III can be used for drinking, although sometimes treatment is required. Water worse than grade V is too polluted for any purpose, including irrigation.

According to the report, 63.2 per cent of the samples were ranked levels I to III last year, up 22 percentage points from the figure in 2005.

Chen warned of safety risks for the country’s drinking water resources, citing the top legislature’s inspection results on the enforcement of the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law from May to June.

Drinking water sources in 278, or 84.5 per cent, of the 329 cities under inspection nationwide meet national standards, according to the report.

Inspectors found potential polluters, including farms, households and and public facilities, located near drinking water sources. In some places, there are heavily polluting industries in the upper reaches.

The inspection team suggested local governments standardize demarcation of boundaries at drinking water sources, enhance monitoring and administration, resolutely clean up illegal buildings and sewage drains and strictly punish sewage draining activities within the areas.

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