Guangdong produced more than 100 million tonnes of additional waste water last year compared with the previous year, raising concerns about the impact on rivers, where three quarters of the province's waste water was discharged.
A report on the quality of Guangdong's water resources for 2011, compiled by the provincial department of water resources, said more than 12.5 billion tonnes of waste water - 55 per cent of which was industrial, while the rest was domestic sewage - was produced across Guangdong, the Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.
Though it said about 75 per cent of the discharged water had been flushed into the province's rivers, the report did not say how much of the waste water had been properly treated beforehand.
Four cities in the Pearl River Delta - Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan and Foshan - discharged most of the waste water last year, at more than 500 million tonnes each.
More than 66 per cent of the province's water from industrial uses was in the delta - the manufacturing hub for the province.
The report said fewer than 40 per cent of the rivers and lakes the department monitored met water quality standards.
Ma Jun, director of the non-profit Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing, criticised the report for not including details about pollutants and the condition of the rivers and their tributaries, meaning it failed to paint a true picture of Guangdong's water pollution.
Despite that weakness, 'the report told the Guangdong public that river pollution is very serious and that big improvements are needed', Ma said.
Xiong Yang, with the mainland environmental NGO called Green River, said the huge amount of waste water still being discharged in Guangdong was proof that recent efforts to move labour-intensive and polluting manufacturing out of the delta area had done little to improve the region's environment.
'The authorities say Guangdong has successfully moved traditional labour-intensive manufacturers and paved the way for environmental protection and hi-tech industries, but we've seen only poor economic figures this year, and now worsening water pollution,' Xiong said.
Xiong also said the report indicated that several sections of rivers near the borders with Hunan, Guangxi and Fujian had also been 'generally bad'.
The additional number in tonnes of waste water produced in Guangdong in 2011 as compared with the previous year