Two-thirds of water treatment plants in China are operating below capacity or not at all due to “huge discrepancies” in sewage pipe networks designed to pump sewage from cities and towns to the plants. Instead, those cities largely dump their untreated sewage straight into the water supply.
Wuhan has nine water treatment plants but struggles to process the 2.36 million tons of wastewater created daily by its citizens, roughly half of that sewage is dumped straight into the Yangtze.
In Guangzhou and Kunming, there are no wastewater treatment facilities whatsoever. Kumning pumps more than 400,000 tons of sewage into nearby Dian Lake.
The dumping of untreated water nearby the very same sources of public tap water is well documented. In Wuhan alone, 12 of the 18 drinking water collection points are only a few kilometers away from waste water outlets.
Sun Jiashou, professor at School of Environment and Civil Engineering of Wuhan Institute of Technology, said although the waste water is mixed into rivers and lakes, untreated water in drinking water supplies could pose health risks to residents.
A project announced under the previous five-year-plan, to build 160,000km of wastewater pipelines, is lagging behind schedule, with only 70,000km completed by the end of 2010.