July 25, 2018 / 9:19 AM / 4 months ago

China's water quality improves in first half of 2018: ministry

A worker transports buckets of clean water from a water tanker into Legislative Council at the new government headquarters complex in Hong Kong January 3, 2012. Bacteria causing potentially deadly Legionnaire's disease were found in taps in various top officials offices, including Chief Executive Donald Tsang, as well as inside the Legislative Council, government radio reported on Tuesday. REUTERS/Bobby Yip (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS HEALTH) - GM1E8131AI201

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China’s overall water quality improved in the first half of this year, with 70 percent of groundwater samples taken from around the country deemed fit for human use, up from 67.9 percent a year ago, the environment ministry said on Wednesday.

According to an analysis of samples at 2,050 testing sites in the first six months of 2018, 70 percent were deemed grade III or better, meaning they were suitable for human contact.

The amount of water judged to be “below grade V” - water so polluted it has “lost all functionality” and is unfit even for irrigation or industrial use - stood at 6.9 percent in the first half of this year, down from 8.3 percent last year. China is aiming to bring this figure down to 5 percent by 2020.

To determine pollution levels in its rivers, China measures phosphorus and ammonium nitrate concentrations as well as chemical oxygen demand (COD).

Though overall water quality has shown signs of improvement in recent years, progress has been uneven, with some regions still lacking adequate “safeguard capability”, experts said earlier this year.

The environment ministry said on Wednesday the proportion of unusable “below grade V” water was more than 20 percent in the Liaohe basin in the northeast, China’s industrial rustbelt.

Some regions have also been accused of falsifying data by installing pumps designed to boost oxygen content and cut COD readings, the environment ministry said last month.

Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Tom Hogue

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