Nanjing lawyer Feng Ding wrote on May 9 to the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MHURD) for the disclosure of cities with substandard tap water. By May 18, the Ministry had not yet responded to Feng’s request. According to China's “Ordinance on Governmental Information Disclosure” which came into effect in 2008, the Ministry should respond within 15 days after it receives a petition.
On May 10, the Ministry posted an article on its website titled “China’s urban and rural water supply is safe on the whole, water quality improves gradually.” According to the ministry, a 2011 survey of major water works around the country shows that 83% of them have met the new quality standard.
“It is the responsibility of government organizations such as the MHURD to ensure the quality of tap water.” Feng said. “People are more concerned about the remaining 17 percent. In which cities are they located? What are the standards they fail to meet? Without further disclosure of information, the 83% rate cannot guarantee that every drop of water I drink is clean.”
The new standard, which is generally close to that of developed countries, was revised and issued by the Ministry of Health in 2006 and is set to take effect in July this year. More gauges, such as levels of heavy metal and persistent organic pollutants, will be used to evaluate the quality of major rivers and lakes, according to China Daily.
The recent public outcry about water quality was triggered by a report issued by Century Weekly magazine on May 7. The report quoted unnamed insiders as saying that “about half of urban tap water in China failed to meet national quality standards.”
Summary by Tong Jun