China's Environment Ministry has warned the country faces severe water pollution, soil erosion and acid rain - as air quality issues continue to dog many of the country's largest cities.

The official China Environmental Situation report found that of 4,778 monitoring sites for groundwater almost 60% were either poor or extremely poor whilst nearly 10% of the country's river valleys fell into the worst category of pollution used by the ministry.

The latest warning on water come amidst continuing concerns about air pollution. Only 3 of 74 major cities met Chinese air pollution standards last year - according to the study which found that the average number of 'severe smog days' also increased to 36 a year. 

The report comes as China seeks to implement a plan to tackle air pollution in it's Eastern cities.

However the plan currently focuses on air pollution and may allow the development of coal and industrial projects in the west of the country.

A recent investigation by Greenpeace found evidence of significant water pollution and soil erosion linked to the coal industry.

The report found that air pollution also led to acid rain affecting more than 10% of China's land area whilst industrial and agricultural pollution reduced arable land by more than 80,000 hectares with more than 30% of China's land area suffering from soil erosion.

Water quality in the East China Sea and nine of the countries biggest bays was also extremely poor. 

Zhou Shengxian, China's minister of environmental protection, told the official Xinhua agency that emissions of major pollutants had dropped in the last year - citing a 3.5% fall in Sulpher Dioxide emissions on 2012. 

Li Ganjie, the Vice-Minister for environmental protection suggested water quality was 'not optimistic'.

The official suggested the government is looking to introduce action plans to work on water and soil contamination.

In April the Chinese government passed a environmental protection law. Also in that month, China's largest coal company announced an end to groundwater extraction in Inner Mongolia after an uproar over pollution and water levels. 

Further reading:

Poor outlook for China air, soil and water (Chinese media)

China approves new coal capacity despite pollution fears  (retuers)

Demand for coal soars amidst water scarcity (EE Publishing)

Could water shortages limit coal use? (Energydesk)