Chinese authorities say nearly 60 percent of the groundwater at sites monitored throughout the country is of poor or extremely poor quality, with excessive amounts of pollutants.
The Ministry of Land and Resources said in an annual report released late Tuesday that testing at 4,778 monitoring sites across China showed a slight increase in polluted sites over last year, from 57.4 percent to 59.6 percent.
Excessive use of nitrogen fertilizers on farmland, unfettered industrialization and poor disposal of urban waste all have been blamed for the deterioration in underground water quality.
Beijing has been responding to public demands for transparency in environmental data. Last week, the government released a summary of a years-long survey that shows nearly one-fifth of the country's farmland is contaminated, most of it with toxic metals.