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China's water supply is likely to be stretched to the limit by 2030 as the population expands above 1.6 billion and rivers and lakes run dry or become polluted, the AFP reported.
Wang Hao, an official with the Global Water Partnership China, told the China Daily that "China's water supply is in trouble due to the scarcity of water resources and worsening pollution after the country's rapid economic growth of the past two decades."
Hao explained that China needs to quickly integrate its water resource management to balance urban and rural demand with the needs of the ecosystem to sustain itself.
According to the report, China is now capable of supplying 690 billion cu. meters of water annually, with 68% consumed by irrigation and less than one-seventh used for maintaining or rehabilitating ecosystems. Urban and industrial use of water takes up an additional 20% of the supply.
In a 2000 survey of 514 rivers, 60 ran dry, while the water volume in lakes monitored in the survey fell by 14%. Of the 1,073 (sources) investigated, water quality in 25% was below grade III, the minimum standard for drinking water, the AFP reported.
Vice Minister of Water Resources Zhai Haohui said that more than 360 million rural Chinese already lack safe drinking water and cities are facing chronic shortages, raising serious health concerns.