China / Society

Beijing tap water getting worse: expert

By ZHENG XIN (China Daily) Updated: 2013-01-09 01:19

Growing problem

Zhao hikes along the rivers and water reservoirs in Beijing most Saturdays to check the water pollution together with many other residents led by NGO Happy Water Journeys.

She said she sees a lot of garbage in the rivers and many sewage drains pouring directly into rivers.

Zhao said the kinds of major pollutants have changed in recent years, from heavy metals, including arsenic and lead, to volatile organic compounds. She said this is because the sources of pollution in the past, steel factories for example, have been gradually moving out of the city.

Zhao said the content of nitrite is mainly from the rubbish, filtrate and excrement.

The pesticide residue, excrement and the landfill leachate have replaced heavy metal as the major pollutants, she said.

In addition, as the pollutants in the water are getting smaller in size, the physical treatments used in the past, that utilized activated carbon and ultra-filtration membranes, hardly work. Waterwork plants have to resort to chemical treatments to further purify the water, Zhao said.

Zhao said the government has raised the price of water in recent years, especially for the major water-consuming enterprises, but this can hardly ease the problems.

"When we open a map of the capital, we can see many streets and areas named after rivers, ditches and wells — Wangfujing (Prince Mansion's Well) and Erligou (Erli Ditch), for example," said Zhao. "Beijing used to have a very close link with water, but no longer.

"To ensure the physical health of myself and my family, we can do nothing but resort to bottled water," she said.

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