Water quality measured in 203 cities across the country last year rated “very poor” or “relatively poor” in an annual survey released by the Ministry of Land and Resources, the official Xinhua news agency said late Tuesday.
Water rated “relatively” poor quality cannot be used for drinking without prior treatment, while water of “very” poor quality cannot be used as a source of drinking water, the report said.
The proportion of water not suitable for direct drinking rose from 57.4 percent from 2012, it said.
China’s decades-long economic boom has brought rising environmental problems, with large parts of the country repeatedly blanketed in thick smog and both waterways and land polluted.
Pollution has emerged as a driver of discontent with the government, sparking occasional protests.
China’s environment ministry last week estimated that 16 percent of the country’s land area was polluted, with nearly one fifth of farmland tainted by inorganic elements such as cadmium.