Lanzhou officials say the quality of local water is actually improving – despite more than 100 bodies being discovered in the Yellow River each year.
Between 2008 and 2012 police extracted 417 bodies from the Yellow River, which runs through the region, Lanzhou authorities told the China News Service  on Thursday.
Lanzhou environmental bureau deputy chief Li Lei said officers had been closely monitoring the quality of drinking water and did not find it had been affected by bodies in the river.
“Based on our overall measuring results in past years, water quality not only remained normal, but in some cases has even improved,” Li said.
His remarks reflect growing public concern about the quality of the drinking water. This comes after recent online rumours that more than 10,000 bodies were floating in the Yellow River, which flows through the capital city of Gansu province.
The rumours were sparked by a report in the Oriental Morning Post  last October. Citing accounts from different authorities, it said that since the 1960s there have been at least 10,000 bodies found floating within an 80km-stretch of the Yellow River.
But Lanzhou police bureau spokesman Huang Xiaoping said most of the bodies in the river were people who died from accidents and suicides. Out the 417 bodies retrieved, only two were involved in criminal activities, he told the agency.
In 2005, Xiaosanxia Power, which owns two hydropower stations in the region, issued a report on the water quality.
“The bodies would generate much more pollutants than daily disposals if they remain in water and decompose,” the company said. It said it had found dozens of bodies floating with household rubbish every year.
Lanzou’s environmental authority said it would deal promptly with the matter. “We would put more effort into supervising the water quality. In the case of abnormal situations, we would issue more warnings,” Li said.
Earlier this month, over 10,000 dead pigs were fished from a Shanghai river. More than 1,000 duck carcasses were found in a river in Sichuan. The government has repeatedly claimed the water quality was still good.
The Yellow River is the second-longest in Asia after the Yangtze and has an estimated length of 5,464km. It runs through nine provinces in China, including Gansu, Qinghai, Sichuan, Shanxi and Henan.