As China’s population and economy have grown, so has its thirst for water. Today China is the world’s biggest water user, accounting for 13 percent of the world’s freshwater consumption. Not only do humans use water for drinking; we use it to wash our clothes, bathe, cook, and clean. On a larger scale, water is heavily used for countless other purposes such as industrial manufacturing, household plumbing, raising agriculture and livestock, and even producing energy. All of these processes require good, clean water. Luckily, China is home to many sources of fresh water. People have relied on these sources—rivers, lakes, rain, and aquifers—for thousands of years. In a country that is experiencing such rapid urbanization and economic development, however, clean water is becoming more and more scarce. Aquifer levels are dropping, lakes are disappearing, rivers are drying up or becoming polluted, and air contaminants are producing acid rain. Water shortages plague over half of China’s cities. Today, water is one of China’s Imost crucial issues.
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