The first national report detailing conditions of China's water resources conducted from 2010 to 2012 was released Tuesday, revealing a severe decline in the country's water quality and quantity.
The survey by the Ministry of Water Resources and the National Bureau of Statistics examined the country's rivers, water conservation projects, water consumption, river management, and water and soil conservation.
It found that China currently has 22,909 rivers that each covers an area of more than 100 square kilometers, some 28,000 fewer than were counted during the 1990s.
The drastic drop in the number is partly due to the use of new maps during the survey, said Jiao Yong, vice minister of water resources.
Meanwhile, the social development and climate change also affected the number of the country's rivers, he added.
Around 400 cities in China get their drinking water mainly from groundwater which is being overexploited. The survey found that 60 cities are "severely overexploiting" groundwater.
"Overexploitation of water resources and pollution are the two major problems. With demand from the industry and urban consumption increasing, the water supply is already being severely challenged, especially in North China," Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, told the Global Times.
The national strategy should shift from increasing water supply to conservation and more efficient use of water, Ma added.
Xinhua contributed to this story