Water pollution is fueling the explosive growth of bottled water sales in China, where consumption of bottled water has doubled since 2006.
China has seven percent of the world's fresh water but 20 percent of its population, and its thirst for clean bottled water and purified tap water has, since 2010, also doubled, the research firm Euromonitor reported.
Health concerns have forced China toward bottled water. In 2013, thousands of rotting pigs were discovered tossed into Shanghai's major supplier of water, the Huangpu River; oil from an industrial leak in 2014 put benzene in the tap water of Lanzhou's population of 2.4 million.
The three biggest bottled water brands — Master Kong, Nonfgu Spring and C'esbon — are all China-based and account for one-third of all sales, although even bottled water, despite negligent government scrutiny, has been found to contain bacteria. The situation has opened the door to imported bottled water in China, perceived to be more pure than the domestic product and sold at premium prices by Coca-Cola's Ice Dew, France's Danone and Switzerland's Nestle. Together they account for about 13 percent of the market.
The surge in alternatives to tap water comes as China's premier planning agency accelerates anti-pollution policies. The annual report of the National Development and Reform Commission, delivered to Parliament Thursday, promises policies to curb air pollution, water pollution and coal burning.
"Environmental pollution is a blight on people's quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts," Premier Li Keqiang said in the report.