Understanding China, One Blog at a Time

An American in China

China’s Water so Polluted They May Quit Reporting the Levels

Posted by w_thames_the_d on April 18, 2010

This was from a few years back, I wonder if they still report…

Reuters has the report:

A new Chinese government survey of the country’s environmental problems has shown water pollution levels in 2007 were more than twice the government’s official estimate, largely because agricultural waste was ignored.The data, presented by Vice Environment Protection Minister Zhang Lijun, revives persistent questions about the quality of Chinese official statistics and the effectiveness of a government push for cleaner growth after decades of unbridled expansion.

We’ve long known that agriculture waste has played a huge roll in China’s water pollution, and that pesticides play a major factor. But this revelation reveals not only a breathtaking environmental problem, but a serious issue in the Chinese government’s record keeping–or perhaps more likely, its candidness with the Chinese people. Which, of course, has also long been known to be a major issue in China.


The Chinese people deserve to know how polluted their bodies of water are–those that they often get drinking water from. And what’s worse, it appears that the Chinese government attempted to make claims to the contrary–saying they were cleaning up water sources when in fact the pollution levels were rising. Here’s Reuters:

The first national census on pollution sources found that discharge of “chemical oxygen demand” (COD) — a measure of water pollution — in wastewater was 30.3 million metric tons, Zhang said. The government had said in an official paper published two years ago that 2007 was the first year it managed to reduce water pollution, with COD falling 3 percent to 13.8 million metric tons

Finally, to make matters even worse, there’s even more environmental data obtained from the census that the government is considering not releasing at all–deeming it too sensitive and potentially embarrassing.

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