Ammonia-nitrogen in river sparks panic buying of water in Central China

WUHAN (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Local residents rushed to buy bottled water in Wuhan, capital of central China's Hubei province on Thursday, after two tap water suppliers suspended production due to river contamination.

Tests showed the Wuhan section of the Hanjiang River, a major tributary of the Yangtze River, contained excessive amounts of ammonia-nitrogen.

Emergency measures were taken to ensure water quality in the city that has a population of 10.22 million. Two major suppliers - the Baihezui and Yushidun water plants - suspended production at around 4pm and 7pm respectively, affecting more than 300,000 users.

Local government said "disqualified water" from the two waterworks was stopped before entering the city's central water supply network. As of 9pm, supplies in the city had been up to standard, a government statement said.

Local departments are testing river water every hour, while environmental protection bureaus at provincial and city levels are investigating the source of the pollution.

China is no stranger to drinking water crises.

The industrialised city of Lanzhou in north-west China's Gansu province saw its piped water supply cut off two weeks ago when its tap water was found to contain excessive levels of benzene, a chemical often used to make plastics.