What You Need to Know About Water Pollution

Water is supposed to be a healthy and life giving drink, so when we drink a glass of water from the faucet, it’s hard to believe that this water could cause us to become ill. Unfortunately, when toxic chemicals in the environment leach into the water supply and cause water pollution, our water can become dangerous rather than healthy.

Water is essential for life and it is one of our most precious resources. The quality of our water cannot be taken for granted and we need to pay attention to how we dispose of waste and toxins.

Point Source and Non-Point Source Water Pollution

When it comes to the pollution of our water sources, there are two different types of water pollution. After a rain shower, all of the water washes down into the drainage system – taking plenty of dirt, glass clippings, chemicals, car fluids, fertilisers and much more with it. This type of pollution is known as “non-point-source” and it comes from driveways, rooftops, streets, parking lots and golf courses.

The other type of water pollution is “point source” which comes from a single source – such as a chemical plant leaking chemicals into the soil or a sewage treatment facility disposing of their waste by discharging it directly into a stream. Sometimes point source water pollution also comes from a specific event, such as a tanker truck that has an accident and causes fuel or another contaminant to flow into our drainage system. These toxins will flow right into the storm drain system without being cleaned or treated, which will cause it to pollute the rivers, streams and lakes.

Solvents and metals that are used in industrial work can also pollute our lakes and rivers. These substances will be poisonous to many species of aquatic life such as fish, waterfowl and more. The substances will slow down their development and even result in their death.

The Dangers of Water Pollution

One of the most major health risks in the world is unclean drinking water, which is an issue even within a developed country such as the USA. Many water resources in the USA lack the basic protection required, which makes them vulnerable to pollution from industrial plants, factory farms and much more. This can cause beach closures, contamination of drinking water and the degradation of the habitat.

Not only do humans depend on having clean drinking water, it is also essential for wildlife, birds and fish. The habitat of fish and bird species is being threatened in a number of ways by many different types of water pollution.

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Examples of Modern Water Pollution

An example of toxic water pollution can be found at the Vermont Asbestos Group Mine – a 1,500 acre site which is located in the towns of Eden and Lowell in Vermont. While this mine has not been active since 93, it still contains hundreds of acres of waste rock – which contains the dangerous substance Asbestos. This information has been outlined in an official complaint against the mine in 2008 by the state.

The concern that was described in the complaint is that the asbestos-containing rock could cause harmful chemicals to leach into the waterways of the town. This could have a carcinogenic effect on the residents of the town, which would be a serious threat to public health.

Another example of point source water pollution took place near the Tank Hill oil distribution terminal in rural Montana. The companies connected with the terminal are being sued by the residents of the town, as they say that the operation cause serious widespread pollution that affected the health of residents. According to the lawsuit, toxic petroleum materials from the terminal spread through the soil and groundwater to the neighboring properties, which brought down their property values and caused a threat to health. The petroleum vapours seeping away from the site were discovered by the State Department of Environmental Quality in 1988.

Water pollution is a very real threat to our health and there are many scientists and environmentalists using the best environmental data resources available out there to help find it and combat it. With the development of better environmental monitoring technology and improved water treatment plants, we are working toward a healthier and greener future.

Marshall Peterson is a freelance writer and environmentalist who cares passionately about the health of our waterways. He blogs about nature related topics and also enjoys camping.

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