News & AnalysisEnvironmental Science

China to Spend Billions Cleaning Up Groundwater

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Science  11 Nov 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6057, pp. 745
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6057.745

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On 28 October, China's State Council unveiled a $5.5 billion initiative over 10 years to prevent and treat groundwater contamination. The plan will bolster monitoring and push development of groundwater cleanup technologies. The project is long overdue, hydrologists say. Water is scarce in China, which ekes by with only one-quarter of the global average for water per capita. Roughly 70% of Chinese get their drinking water from underground-and the economic boom of the past few decades has tainted much of that supply, hydrologists say. Disasters like the petrochemical plant explosions in 2005 that spilled 100 tons of benzene and other chemicals into the Songhua River near the Russian border have exacerbated China's woes.

  • * Jane Qiu is a writer in Beijing and London.

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