Becoming more aware of the consequences water pollution has towards life in both sea and land, life can become more safe and prosperous for future years to come.
As technology advances over the years, there has been an increasing amount of people using products that are more durable and convenient. Around “1,000,000 plastic bottles [are bought by humans] every minute [and] it is estimated that four trillion plastic bags are used worldwide annually” (Earth day 1). However, most products are made out of synthetically made material which are often not able to break down naturally and are not recycled. “Only about 23% of bottles [made] are [actually] recycled, only 1% of plastic bags are returned for recycling, [and] Americans throw away 100 billion plastic bags annually [which is] about 307 bags per person” (Earth Day 1). Therefore, discoveries of trash islands, consisted of mainly plastic, have been located in at least three major oceans. This increased amount of trash in our oceans has become a major problem in water pollution that concerns both sea life and humans safety that could be solved with simple solutions such as recycling, volunteering at beach clean ups with friends, or following safe disposal practices.
Trash islands are islands that are composed of discarded matter that have piled greatly from the mainland. They are transported through various ways such as sewers, animals, the environment, and of course, humans. These islands found all over the world could vary by size with the largest being located in the Pacific Ocean referred to as “The Great Pacific Garbage Patch”. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, also known as the Pacific trash vortex, spans waters from the West Coast of North America to Japan. The patch is actually comprised of the Western Garbage Patch, located near Japan, and the Eastern Garbage Patch, located between the U.S. states of Hawaii and California. Overall, most patches consist of large piles of man made products largely consisted of plastic materials. With this continuation, researchers have estimated that, “by the end of this century, ...the surface waters of the ocean could be nearly 150 percent more acidic than they are now” (Denchak 2). If not taken care of immediately, ocean waters would be more contaminated causing the ocean to become difficult to sanitate anything exposed to the waters, affecting both sea and human life.
Plastic has become a popular source of material to several areas around the world. They have been incorporated into our daily lives that one does not realise how harmful it can possibly be. For example, take something that is commonly found in households such as a water bottle. People rely on water bottles as a source of containment for liquids. However, people have developed a mindset that once the liquid is gone, the bottle is trash thus forgetting that the water bottle is made out of plastic that is recyclable. Many people have adapted to this mindset that once something is finished, they should automatically throw it away that they forget that there is such a thing as a recycling bin where the bottle should end up instead of the ocean. Americans alone “purchase about 50 billion water bottles per year, averaging about 13 bottles per month for every person in the U.S” (Earth day 1). This would reveal just how much plastic has become such a necessity to many lives
The trash ending up in our oceans would then cause many sea life to be affected greatly towards a negative direction. At least 100,000 marine animals and 1,000,000 seabirds die every year simply because they have eaten something they shouldn’t have (Ocean Crusaders 1). According to the national Geographic, “Albatrosses mistake plastic resin pellets for fish eggs and feed them to chicks, which die of starvation or ruptured organs” (National Geographic 3). This would only show a few out of the several animal populations in the ocean that are affected, reflecting on how animals are being a main target from water pollution. Especially since animals do not have a voice in asking for help. They are only able to speak for themselves sadly through horrible incidents such as the death of a whale in Thailand. At first, the whale was holding onto life but unfortunately died even through the efforts of vets. However, once the whale was examined for the cause of death, marine officials discovered that the whale had “...80 sopping wet, black plastic bags...pulled from the stomach of a [dead] whale…” (Raphelson 1). The whale autopsy reflects how even the largest mammal on the planet is even affected by the trash being thrown into the ocean. Animals are only able to show need for support through such tragedies which humans could prevent by becoming aware of the need to stop the water pollution. If not taken into action, most animals would more than likely be affected and are more than likely have a higher chance of becoming extinct simply because of the mistakes of not picking up after oneself. In addition, the sea life found in the coral reefs are being affected because, “more-acidic waters also contribute to the bleaching of coral reefs and make it harder for some types of fish to sense predators and for others to hunt prey” (Denchak 3). Coral reefs are an essential habitat towards many animals which means if they are affected, a long chain of affects are implemented on the surrounding animals leading to another way of animal death. Thus, action towards water pollution is needed to be implemented now before it leads to animals not having a habitat for themselves or for its future generations because their homes are either being destroyed or they themselves are being eliminated.
Moreover, animals are not the only living creatures being affected but humans as well. Humans spends lots of time in the ocean as a getaway not realising how unhealthy the water has become. “According to the National Survey on Recreation and Environment (NSRE), more than 143 million people in the U.S. [itself with], 61% of the population over the age 16, use surface waters to engage in non-motorized water sports” revealing that several people come into contact with the ocean (Beachapedia 1). Furthermore, it is stated by Raphelson that, 'Every minute [there] is the equivalent of a garbage truck full of plastic going into the ocean...' (Raphelson 3). This means that humans are swimming in water that carries several particles of trash debris that are very unsanitary and are more than likely unhealthy for the body. Thus, it leads to human exposure to unknown or harmful chemicals that can lead many to become very ill with at least “1 billion people” falling ill because of unsafe waters (NRDC 8). For instance, “disease causing microorganisms, called pathogens, are associated with a range of enteric and non-enteric illnesses” (Beachapedia 1). “These illness would reside in the human intestines causing AGI or in other words “acute gastrointestinal illness” (Beachapedia 1) causing symptoms such as “nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach ache, and fever”. This creates serious pain to the human body, preventing many from enjoying or doing everyday things (Beachapedia 1). It is even stated by the UNDESA that, “Every year, more people die from unsafe water than from all forms of violence, including war”. In 2015 alone, water pollution caused “1.8 million deaths” according to the study from The Lancet (NRDC 8). Hence, showing how critical water pollution has become that human lives are now beginning to be greatly affected. However, ocean water is not only polluted through water or by land but also through airborne sources. An example would be “Coal-fired power plants [or] chlorine factories [that] release mercury into the air [that would] eventually settle into the ocean” (Thank You Ocean 6). This mercury being released into the environment is a dangerous toxin which then enters the systems of marine organisms and “bioaccumulates, or increases, as larger fish eat smaller fish contaminated with mercury” (NRDC 7). Consequently, this would lead to the consumption of contaminated fish which would greatly affect humans because mercury “can cause serious damage to the brain and nervous system” (NRDC 7). Furthermore, edible fish such as “tuna and swordfish, often have the highest [concentrations] of mercury”, indicating that most humans are presently becoming contaminated through this food source without much knowledge of the negative effects it may have on their bodies (NPR 2). For this reason, doctors recommend limiting the consumption of some types of fish and shellfish in order to limit the amount of mercury consumed into one’s body. All inclusive, there is a need to take immediate action in order to prevent any more damage to human health not only for the present generation but for the health for generations to come. Their future greatly depends on the actions we implement now which should be to create a more sanitary ocean for them to be in, eat, and enjoy.
In fact, many people worldwide have begun to notice the importance of protecting our oceans from water pollution. California alone has begun to protect one of its important assets to the state with its coastlines having “beach visitors spend over 10 billion dollars each year” (Thank You Ocean 8) . California began to monitor and regulate the ocean through a series of volunteer programs that helps clean up the coastlines beaches. It is estimated that around “100 million dollars has been invested in California” alone to fund local projects that reduce the amount of trash on the coastlines (Thank You Ocean 8). In addition, California has passed a bill that eliminates the use of straws helping prevent straws from entering the ocean especially since plastic is of the major items commonly found in the ocean. Although such action is taken, many believe it's unnecessary to ban or prohibit many items or actions implied on the people. This situation could be viewed with the controversy of banning straws in California. It has been stated that if people violated this “banned” item, there might be federal consequences such as jail time for a waitress or bartender serving someone a straw (San Francisco Chronicle 1). Many view this as unnecessary and cruel punishment for someone who is simply doing their job. Many even note that California should focus more on their ways of handling pollution that is presently in front of them such as the piles of trash that are on sidewalks and roads instead of a “little straw”. However, focusing on the smaller problems would help prevent the bigger problems of water pollution. Straws being a product made out of plastic, is one of the main contributors to the present pollution that is at stake. Straws are commonly found in the ocean and in several cases found as a cause of damage towards sea life. An example of this would be of a sea turtle that had a four inch plastic straw stuck completely in his nostril. Two researchers tried to extract the straw only causing a stream of blood to flow out of its nostril (Plastic Pollution Coalition 2). This shows how many people do not view a straw as a harmful device when in reality the sraw, or basically anything thrown into the ocean, is a threat to sea life no matter the size. Even though it may seem like strict laws, these steps are needed to protect our oceans from danger because many do not take the problem seriously until reminded through the law thus not hurting any living creature by preventing any damage from human innovations.
Furthermore, in order to maintain stability of the chemicals being put into the ocean, factories or any source that releases large amounts of pollution should make sure that their waste is being thrown away correctly. This would prevent the ocean from attaining any form of unhealthy chemical to worsen the safety and health of the ocean. Also, since the air could also be a factor towards water pollution, implementing renewable energy sources in companies, especially large ones, in order to obtain their energy in a more eco friendly way rather than in a manner that pollutes the air and water. For example, “solar energy, wind turbines and hydro power are all pollution free methods of obtaining power from the earth's natural resources without harming the earth's existing natural resources to obtain this energy” (Whale Facts 5). In addition, people making the switch between harmful chemicals to more eco-friendly chemicals that are little to no harm when they come in contact with water. Additionally, the toxic fumes that can be spread through heavy rainfall into several water systems, should be “filtered, rerouted and cleaned before making their way to the atmosphere” (Whale Facts 6). People can help contribute with lessening water pollution through simple everyday tasks. For example, “Keep your car well maintained and immediately service it if you notice any oil leaking from the car” or “Purchase environmentally friendly cleaning products that do not harm the land if they happen to be flushed or emptied into a drain” (Whale Facts 7). Also, not letting water run when not in use which would help conserve water that is already safe to being misused. Additionally, recycling cans, bottles, paper, or even other items such as clothes because it would allow the items to either be used once again or to be created into new resources instead of floating trash in the ocean. All together, such changes or solutions can help restore the ocean’s safety and sanitation from water pollution for all living creatures on the sea, air, and of course humans.
In conclusion, by becoming more aware of the consequences water pollution has towards life in both sea and land, life can become more safe and prosperous for future years to come. There are several solutions being explored worldwide in order to stop or prevent the water pollution from spreading. Most importantly, there are various simple ways all the people could help to contribute towards helping the ocean become much cleaner such as the examples mentioned because if measures are not taken as soon as possible, many animals, plants, and humans would suffer many consequences such as illness as unfortunately for plants and animals, the brink of extinction.
Water is essential to all life, whether on land or in aquatic environments. Living organisms can potentially survive months without physical food, but cannot last more than a week without receiving water in some capacity.
Water’s availability to people and organisms should not be taken lightly, seeing that this Earth is not promised a clean water supply for eternity. The supply of water remains constantly in motion through the hydrologic cycle, but its imperative to taken into consideration the amount of clean, drinking water that is being harmed and degraded. To understand regulations put in place to protect and preserve clean water sources, its important to understand the different types of pollution sources that put clean water at risk.
Keywords: Water, pollution, nonpoint source, point source, federal regulation, hydrologic cycle.
Water covers about 85% of planet Earth. Water is essential to all life, whether on land or in aquatic environments. Living organisms can potentially survive months without physical food, but cannot last more than a week without receiving water in some capacity. Water’s availability to people and organisms should not be taken lightly, seeing that this Earth is not promised a clean water supply for eternity. The supply of water remains constantly in motion through the hydrologic cycle, but its imperative to taken into consideration the amount of clean, drinking water that is being harmed and degraded.
Although there has been a significant increase in the usage of water in the United States—this is largely due to population growth causing a need for more indoor plumbing, increased industrial demand and greater agricultural use—and other countries in the past 100 years, the amount of water readily available remains the same due to the hydrologic cycle. This cycle describes the transformation and circulation of water in nature. The actions of the hydrologic cycle include evaporation, precipitation, infiltration, storage, and runoff. The cycle begins when water is evaporated—this can be from land surfaces, the ocean, or surface water bodies—and becomes apart of air in the atmosphere. This moisture in the air causes clouds to form, which returns to the water to the Earth’s surface through precipitation. Forms of precipitation include hail, snow, sleet, rain, fog , and dew.
Precipitated water returns to oceans, lakes, and rivers on the surface. Water is sometimes intercepted by plants and returned to the air through a process called transpiration. Surface runoff water returns to the air through the evaporation step of the cycle. Water that has infiltrated can percolate deep into the Earth’s surface to be stored as groundwater. Groundwater can be present in soil or bedrock. Underground water bearing formations are called aquifers. Ground water is the primary source of drinking water for the United States, and it also serves to be a backup to surface water supplies when a drought occurs. When said groundwater discharges as surface water, it evaporates into the atmosphere and completes the hydrologic cycle.
In the past 10-15 years, the abuse and use of water in the United States has began to decrease due to conservation efforts, rising water prices, and the emergence of water-preserving technology. The United States’ current use of water is for agriculture and electricity production. The processes used to turn water into power are hydroelectric and thermoelectric process. Thermoelectric power is generated by converting water into steam by heating it with nuclear or fossil fuels; water is used to cool. Hydroelectric power is generated by allowing water from dammed reservoirs to flow by gravity to move turbines. The production of electricity uses more water than any other industry. To understand regulations put in place to protect and preserve clean water sources, its important to understand the different types of pollution sources that put clean water at risk.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines point source pollution as “any single identifiable source of pollution from which pollutants are discharged, such as a pipe, ditch, ship or factory smokestack” (Hill, 1997). Manufacturing plants and sewage treatment plants are two commonly recognized examples of point source pollution. Industrial facilities—counting oil refineries, paper plants, and chemical, hardware and automotive producers—often times release one or more pollutants in respective waters. There are a few production lines that release their effluents directly into bodies of water. Sewage treatment plants treat human waste and send it into steams or rivers. Another way that a few manufacturing plants and sewage treatment plants manage waste is by combining it with runoff in a combined sewage works. Runoff is used to refer to the stormwater that runs over surfaces like driveways, and as water crosses these surfaces, it acquires chemicals and toxins. This untreated, contaminated water goes directly into a combined sewage. Unregulated discharges from point sources can result in water pollution and drinking water that’s not safe for consumption.
A somewhat generic definition of nonpoint source pollution includes everything that would not be considered a point source, or not associated with points of discharge. Nonpoint source pollution generally results from land runoff, precipitation, drainage, seepage or modifications to hydrologic cycle. Nonpoint sources of pollution are caused by rainfall or melted precipitation moving through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground water. Nonpoint source pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems. The effects of nonpoint source pollutants on specific waters vary and may not always be fully assessed. However, we know that these pollutants have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife.
The Clean Water Act began as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act and has since been transformed and statutes added. In increase in public awareness and concern for controlling water pollution led to Act’s amendments in 1972. With this amendment, the law became known as the Clean Water Act. The original goal was to restore the integrity of the water in the United States to a quality that is capable of being swam and fished in, and totaling eliminating discharges of pollutants into waters. It also placed an emphasis on individual effluent discharging. The Clean Water Act gave the EPA the authority to introduce pollution control programs. It worked to maintain already existing requirements to set water quality standards for all contaminants in surface waters. It also made it unlawful for any person to discharge any pollutant into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained under the Act’s provisions.
The cause and effect of rising water pollution across the world, mostly in a geographical area with a dense human population or impoverished countries, experience difficulty in maintaining a healthy and progressive life.
Pollution, whether it be in the air we breathe in, the water we drink from, or the soil where we grow our crops from is undoubtedly an aspect of our life, affecting the environment across the globe. What exactly defines pollution? It is the presence or introduction of a substance or thing that has harmful or poisonous effects on the environment. There are different types of pollution varying from light pollution, noise pollution, thermal pollution, radioactive pollution, and many other harmful ones. However, of all of them, pollution of air, water, and the soil are the primary concern to our existence and progress in life; nevertheless, water pollution will be the main focus of this research.
The cause and effect of rising water pollution across the world, mostly in a geographical area with a dense human population or impoverished countries, experience difficulty in maintaining a healthy and progressive life. The introduction of water pollution into the human body can cause failure or permanently damage the respiratory system and cardiovascular system or introduce other diseases that can cause deafness, blindness, bacterial infection, and can lead to the development of cancer. Most of these effects of water pollution come from various sources such as the inadequate disposal of industrial and human waste, and the usage of fertilizers and pesticides in agriculture. There has been an increase in the global population that is bringing in excessive use of natural resources and disposing of them irrationally, ending up in bodies of water.
The rising of water pollution could bring in unfortunate consequences throughout various places in the world, bringing humanity in the future with an unstable society and higher mortality rates. Although many solutions have been developed and implemented, the results are still the same, the water is polluted, and people do not care. The management of water is essential to our longevity and survival in life to live a long healthy, and peaceful life without worries; without it, humanity will perish within days from dehydration. The main factor of water pollution is agricultural use of chemicals, despite there being many other important point-sources, this factor will be the main focus of the research. Because we have a high demand for food, our inability to control hunger can determine the level of pollutants that enter our waterways.
Agriculture uses up to 70% of the world's accessible freshwater from rivers and groundwater, revealing the high demand for food production. However, some 60% of this is wasted due to mismanagement of water irrigation systems, leading runoff of contaminated water guiding itself into streets, storm drains, and water sources like ponds and streams, eventually into safe drinking supplies. These chemicals that are used in agriculture vary from nitrate, the most common chemical contaminant in the world's groundwater aquifers, and nutrients along with phosphorus that ends up accumulating over time, creating what is known as eutrophication, a green-like field of water-induced from excessive growth of algae. Due to the unavailability of water in some regions from severe water pollution, at many places, the land has become infertile and inadequate for agriculture use that limits crop productivity, which leads to starvation in some parts of the world. These agrochemicals varying from fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and others have given rise to widespread contamination of waterways and ground waters, in turn affecting plants, wildlife, humans, and animals. Once they have been sprayed, they do not disappear completely, and the chemicals end up mixing with the water and seep into the ground while the plant itself absorbs the rest.
As a result, the local streams that are supplied water from the ground become contaminated, as do the animals that eat these crops and plants. According to the Water Research Center, nitrate is an inorganic chemical that is highly soluble in water and is essential for all living things, but high levels of nitrate in drinking water can be dangerous to health, especially for infants and pregnant women.
Additionally, according to the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Science, a high enough concentration of nitrate in drinking water can be lethal to infants, resulting in a temporary blood disorder called methemoglobinemia, commonly called 'blue baby syndrome.' In severe, untreated cases, brain damage, and death can occur from the result of a lack of oxygen; some symptoms vary from headache, dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, and blue-gray or pale purple coloration around the area of the lips, eyes, mouth, hands, and feet.
On the other hand, the excessive richness of nutrients in a lake or other body of water (eutrophication) can cause marine life to suffocate due to the growth of algae, taking up all the oxygen for themselves, creating 'dead zones' that are incapable of supporting life. Some of these villages rely on certain waters, and if these villages become contaminated, drinking water and crops will become scarce. Although we live in an advanced world with water treatment facilities, some developing countries do not have the luxury to own these facilities, and these chemicals eventually become suppliers of drinking water. These ongoing activities using multiple agricultural-related chemicals could worsen future generations and lead to more cases of waterborne diseases. The chemicals that find their way to bodies of water provide life to numerous waterborne illnesses that have disastrous effects on humans.
According to the Conserve Future Energy website, they state that waterborne disease is one of the leading causes of mortality in the world that inadequate sanitation can lead to deadly diarrheal diseases, including cholera, typhoid fever, botulism, giardia, leptospirosis, and other waterborne illnesses. Around 2-4 million people, mostly in Africa, die from severe cases of waterborne diseases due to a lack of proper medical facilities and training, impacting people's daily life who are living under poor conditions. Also, according to the CDC, they state that over 1.9 million children die each year from drinking unsafe water where they die because the water they are drinking causes diarrheal diseases that lead to poor nutrition and other problems. Unsafe drinking water is the second largest cause of child mortality worldwide and contributes to 15% of child deaths. The leading cause of this devastating disaster is due to the flow of ignorance around us, where the problem lies primarily with a group of people living in a more prosperous country. We as people living in a more technological, healthier, and wealthier lifestyle often overlook water pollution and its pollutants and mostly not care for those in despair because of the accessibility we have within our well-established community, not being self-aware of the reduction of earth's water supplies.
For many people, they think to themselves that earth provides and recycles an unlimited amount of safe, freshwater for use and consumption, well, that is not the case. Most people around the world, about 41% live in river basins that are under water stress and due to some portion of being polluted. There are many possible solutions to reduce pollutants that pollute water bodies caused by agricultural activities, including watershed efforts, nutrient management, cover crops, buffer zones, tillage management, livestock waste management, and drainage management. The collaboration between state governments, farm organizations, communities, and other institutions can play vital roles in improving water quality by helping each other rather than keeping a distant communication. Also, managing nutrients by adding the proper amount at the time of the year with the right methods can decrease potential runoff of nutrients guiding itself in lakes or rivers. Furthermore, planting certain grasses, clovers, or grains (cover crops) can help recycle excess nitrogen and reduce the eroding of soil.
By combining buffer zones such as planting trees, shrubs, and grass around the fields, especially close to bodies of water, can help by absorbing and filtering nutrients before they reach the water. More importantly, reducing conventional farming methods (tillage) can reduce soil compaction and erosion, can also increase soil organic matter and reduce pollution runoff. Preventing animals' waste from entering rivers, streams, and lakes help keep chemicals such as phosphorus and nitrogen out of the water, making the environment healthier.
A solution for local communities would be investing in a more sustainable water drainage system, recycling and filtering out poisonous chemicals that help prevent the degradation of the water in local bodies of water. There are many other solutions for agricultural management in efforts to prevent water pollution, but these are the most meaningful and practical solutions.
Water pollution occurs when harmful substances—often chemicals or microorganisms—contaminate a stream, river, lake, ocean, aquifer, or other body of water, degrading water quality and rendering it toxic to humans or the environment.
My hometown of Jonesboro, Arkansas is located in the geographical area of Northeast Arkansas and within the boundaries of Craighead County. The rural areas are flat and mostly used for agricultural purposes. Most of the Farmers I know use either wells, flumes and local bodies of water for irrigation of their crops. Those waters used by the farmers are subject to regulations set forth by our government. As stated by the Environmental Protection Agency and in accordance with the Clean Water Act of 1972, the regulations for pollution discharge into our bodies of water are defined as: 33 U.S.C. §1251 et seq. (1972)
The Clean Water Act (CWA) establishes the basic structure for regulating discharges of pollutants into the waters of the United States and regulating quality standards for surface waters. The basis of the CWA was enacted in 1948 and was called the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, but the Act was significantly reorganized and expanded in 1972. 'Clean Water Act' became the Act's common name with amendments in 1972.
Under the CWA, EPA has implemented pollution control programs such as setting wastewater standards for industry. EPA has also developed national water quality criteria recommendations for pollutants in surface waters. The CWA made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained. EPA's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit program controls discharges. Point sources are discrete conveyances such as pipes or man-made ditches. Individual homes that are connected to a municipal system, use a septic system, or do not have a surface discharge do not need an NPDES permit; however, industrial, municipal, and other facilities must obtain permits if their discharges go directly to surface waters (Clean Water Act of 1972).
Once a body of water is tested for pollutants, the reports are listed on the EPA website. A 6.026 mile stretch of the Cache River, within the boundaries of Craighead County, tested impaired for four designated human and animal uses:
The assessment also detected lead within in the Fisheries designation, without Total Maximum Daily Load parameters listed (Epa, 2019). Even lead, in small amounts can cause a slew of very serious health issues, especially in kids. A few of the many adverse issue’s children can suffer from can be learning and developmental delays, abdominal pain, seizures and even death, https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-.
The agricultural industries require expensive incentives to restore the landscape. In December 2017, $5,059, 429 was allocated to the USDA Financial Assistance Program in Craighead County. The Environmental Quality Incentive Program, which helps agricultural producers confront those challenges all while conserving natural resources like soil, water and air is one of those programs. Without using this financial assistance wisely to reverse or slow down the water pollution coming from the farming industry, Craighead county is going to continue to require assistance and incentives that are going to increase each year and add to an already huge financial burden (FY17, Financial Assistance by Program and County, 2017)
Expanding our research into water pollution, from a social and political point of view, yields some surprising results. In 2016, Gallop published its annual Environmental Survey. The survey indicated that 61% of Americans are concerned with polluted drinking water (McCarthy, 2016). In addition, we have begun to demand our politicians touch upon issues related to the environment. In the 2016 Presidential Election, candidates were forced to highlight and explain their stance on policy regarding our environment (McCarthy, 2016).
Science has recognized the urgent need to find sustainable solutions for curbing water pollution and finding methods to conserve our already stressed supplies of fresh water. One solution that has been recommended by the scientific community is implementing the process of water reclamation. In the past, wastewater that had been used for human needs, within our society, was labeled as sewage. During the majority of the last century, treatment of sewage focused on three issues, when cleaning the wastewater:
The use of reclaimed water can be very sustainable in order to meet demands on our water sources. The treated water can be used in irrigation, industrial applications plus residential and direct consumption. Reusing wastewater also lightens the energy consumption required for other management solutions such as desalination and inter-basin transfers (Garcia-Cuerva, Berglan, & Binder, 2016). In my opinion, not only would we be conserving water, but we also are liming the discharge of pollutants into our bodies of water by treating and removing toxins from water designated for recycling.
The advantages and disadvantages of using reclaimed water are still being researched. One issue with reusing sewer water is there is an associated fear of contamination and sickness from wastewater that has been reclaimed and used for drinking and watering of food crops. Such an aversion has been extremely difficult to overcome (Garcia-Cuerva, Berglan, & Binder, 2016).
Until people are comfortable with the thought of using recycled water and cities, counties and states have adopted the practice, the research must continue. We must also adapt to changing technologies as they become available.
Since the programs are usually directed at the state level, the cost of implementation varies within each area. One source of monetary support can come from the Water Research Foundation, www.warf.org. With a $700 million-dollar portfolio, there is huge potential for funding for the projects. Also, The EPA has offered funding at the state level that serves as a sort of bank that allows states to borrow monies for water reuse study and application. Information about The Clean Water State Revolving Fund is the available at https://www.epa.gov/cwsrf.
Water insecurity, within the coming years, has the potential for creating social and political upheaval, battles for water supply control and waterborne diseases. There is growing support for finding new technologies for treating wastewater. (Reddy & Lee, 2012) Each day we are depleting our water supplies and polluting our natural sources of water. Without intervention, we are headed towards a global water crisis. Support from the scientific community suggests that water reclamation and reuse is one sustainable solution, in an ongoing issue.
One personal habit I have that contributes to polluting our waterways is choosing to use a supermarket, instead of a farmer’s market, for our food needs. The EPA states that agricultural practices add to the problem of water pollution by adding excess nutrients into our water sources. Products used in farming or animal waste gets washed into a body water by runoff from rainfall or waste being washed into bodies of water (Sources and Solutions: Agriculture, 2017).
Choosing to buy products that are locally sourced and raised on a smaller scale, lessens the byproducts of waste, from larger farming operations. Another idea I could implement is starting a container garden and growing our own produce. One of the best ways I can promote sustainable and practical solutions within my local community is continuing my education in Environmental Science with Natural Resources and Wildlife Conservation. I will be able to enter the workforce and use my education to research and implement new ways to conserve our natural resources.