A man waters a vertical garden on a wall of the Shanghai Natural History Museum in Shanghai on May 28, 2018. (JOHANNES EISELE / AFP)
China aims to improve its overall groundwater quality and restore ecosystem functions at a basic level by 2035, according to an official plan issued on Monday.
The plan was unveiled by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and four other ministries, including the Natural Resources, Water Resources, Agriculture and Rural Affairs and Housing and Urban-Rural Development ministries.
Groundwater quality will join the quality of surface water as a main part of environmental protection inspections by central authorities
The goal will be achieved step by step. By 2020, the proportion of groundwater of extremely poor quality nationwide should be reduced under the plan to about 15 percent, and by 2025 the tendency toward worsening pollution in groundwater will be effectively controlled.
To ensure the timely fulfillment of these goals, groundwater quality will join the quality of surface water as a main part of environmental protection inspections by central authorities, the plan said.
Under the plan, future work will focus on building a system of wells nationwide for monitoring groundwater and a big data information platform for sharing the results.
General laws and regulations that lay out standards for groundwater monitoring, groundwater pollution control and water treatment will be issued by 2020.
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A senior engineer in groundwater monitoring from the Ministry of Natural Resources, who asked not to be named, said that the current technology needs to be improved to monitor the pollution.
"Now, the monitoring wells can only test data like temperature. They are not able to check pollution indexes. As there is a shortage of groundwater, especially in North China, it is necessary to build up the monitoring system to stop groundwater from worsening," he said. "But this testing technology is hard to create. It will take a long time."
Lists of areas with groundwater pollution will come out gradually this year.
By the end of this year, the governments in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei province cluster will spearhead action by releasing a list of groundwater polluting spots and restoring them.
An environmental report released by the Ministry of Ecology and Environment in May said that more than 60 percent of China's groundwater was graded as poor quality in 2017.
The latest data from the Ministry of Water Resources shows that in 2017, the country's groundwater supply was 101.7 billion cubic meters, or 16.8 percent of the water supply.
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