A Chinese environmental official says underground water supplies are contaminated in about 90 percent of China's cities, due to the country's fast-paced economic growth.

Vice Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration Zhang Lijun is quoted as saying China will face even greater water pollution problems in the next 25 years, as its economy continues to expand.

China News Service, a non-governmental news agency in China, reports Wednesday that Mr. Zhang delivered his comments about water pollution at an environmental hearing in Beijing on Tuesday. Delegates at the meeting are said to have been told that pollution is most extensive in cities in northern China.

The government-run Xinhua news agency and other official media republished China News Service's account today.

Underground water supplies are estimated to provide drinking water for almost 70 percent of China's population, as well as irrigation for about 40 percent of the nation's farmland.

Some information for this report provided by AFP.