China heading for water pollution crisis: Official
Updated: 2006-03-16 20:19
China is heading for a water pollution crisis as a booming economy
raises industrial discharges and the number of incidents of toxic chemicals
being spilled into rivers rises, a top environmental regulator said Thursday.
More than 300 million people in rural China already lack access to water
considered clean enough to drink, said Pan Yue, deputy minister of the State
Environmental Protection Administration.
China has recorded 70 pollution incidents in rivers since a chemical plant
accident in November poisoned the Songhua River in the northeast and forced a
major city to temporarily shut down its drinking water system, Pan said.
"The environmental crisis, particularly for water, is coming to China earlier
than expected," Pan said in an interview with a visiting group of American
The amount of sewage and industrial effluents discharged into China's rivers
and lakes has risen each year since 2001, with more than 200 million tons of
each released in 2004, according to a report handed out to the visiting
"In the next 15 years China aims to achieve a well-off society _ defined as a
quadrupling of our gross domestic product _ but if we maintain current
production and consumption patterns then our pollution and consumption of energy
resources will also be increased fourfold," he said.