What China's Talking About Today: Fear Spreads Over Tainted Water

More

A hyperlocal story about polluted tap water in Wuhan, Central China's most populous city, went viral on Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, today.  

Yesterday, the Wuhan Environmental Protection Bureau announced that sewage from Baishazhou Waterworks had broken into Qinling River, a major source of the Wuhan water supply.

According to Baishazhou Waterworks, the water's pollution levels are something of a scientific marvel -- Pollution levels are, at once, too low for consumers to get worried and too high for the plant to effectively clean the water.

The Waterworks plant manager told Sina News that, although the level of pollution is beyond their plant's water purification capacities, "But you can still consume it."

Weibo microbloggers -- many based in Wuhan -- waxed skeptical in roughly 20 thousand tweets since Thursday evening.

Zoe__yang wrote: "We can still drink this? I don't believe it."

Other microbloggers complained of illness. One user complained of wanting to throw up after using the tainted water, as per Baishazhou's instructions.  

Wuhan residents who didn't heed Baishazhou's reassurance seemed to flock to supermarkets, where much of the bottled water supply was sold out.

This is a photo from 穷游老夏, who wrote, in a kind of sarcastic hyperbole, "Help! Water!!!  ... We are in Wuhan."

Wuhan Water.jpg

Outside of Wuhan, micro-bloggers were less concerned.

Beijing-based 展翌apple joked: #Wuhan's tap has a peculiar flavor. # That's the flavor of love~"

Weibo threads on hyperlocal news like this may hold more weight closer to Wuhan, but it is only one of many circumstances in which local government opacity and environmental abuses have led Chinese consumers to be less trustful that their air, water, and food aren't slowly poisoning them.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Massoud Hayoun is a digital-news producer for Al Jazeera America.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in Global

Just In