The surface water of 10 major river systems across China has been under intermediate pollution with striking eutrophication problems in major lakes (reservoirs). More data from the Ministry of Environmental Protection of China showed that underground water in 57% of monitoring sites across Chinese cities was polluted or extremely polluted. Rural water pollution, the rising number of incidents of industrial pollution, outdated sewerage systems, and the overuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizers also endanger the health of rural inhabitants in China. Nearly 0.2 billion rural residents could not use drinking water in accordance with the national standard, and there were reports of ‘cancer villages' and food-borne diseases (cancer village refers to a village where a certain proportion of its inhabitants suffer from the same kind of cancer or where there is a hike in cancer incidence in that area). This study aims to raise awareness of the prevention and control of water pollution and to propose a set of national research and policy initiatives for the future safety of the water environment in China.