Nearly half the country has missed its five-year water quality targets, Greenpeace research shows – so what can be done about water pollution?
Shanghai, with its chic cafes, glitzy shopping malls and organic health food shops, is emblematic of improving quality of life for China’s urban middle class. Yet while the city’s veil of smog has lifted slightly in recent years, its water pollution crisis continues unabated – 85% of the water in the city’s major rivers was undrinkable in 2015, according to official standards, and 56.4% was unfit for any purpose.
These findings come from our new water quality report, which found water pollution levels in China’s other major cities are also extremely high. In Beijing, 39.9% of water was so polluted that it was essentially functionless. In Tianjin, northern China’s principal port city and home to 15 million people, a mere 4.9% of water is usable as a drinking water source.