Water pollution is the process of contamination of water bodies as a result of various human activities which cause harm to the ecosystems, organisms and the environment, within which the process of pollution occurs. Water covers approximately 70% of the surface of the earth, which forms the most essential resource for animals and the environment. The seas and oceans contain 97.5 percent of the world’s water supply, while the remaining percentage comes from fresh water bodies with a little salt content.
Most of the living organisms, as well as human beings, heavily depend on the fresh water for sustenance, while, on the other hand, it is the fraction that is most neglected and degraded. The first thing that comes to mind on the mention of the topic of water is its consumption as a requirement for livelihood. However, the impact of water does not only include everyday uses, such as drinking, irrigation and bathing. In the absence of water, the lives of humans, other organisms and plants would become totally impossible. This essentially of water is well known by most people who continue to blatantly misuse it by unknowingly polluting the water sources. Subsequently, this blind pollution and degradation is slowly harming the environment to the extent that many organisms that are responsible for sustaining the human lives and the ecosystem are rapidly succumbing to this pollution at an alarming rate. Compounding this problem, one can say that the ecosystems are slowly dying off, with significant effects on drinking water and also the ability to utilize water for recreational purposes (Pereira, 2009).
Water pollution affects lakes, rivers, drinking water and oceans all over the world, thus consequently causing harm to the natural environment, as well as human health. Water pollution has, therefore, become a serious concern throughout the planet that requires urgent attention. In order to deal with the harmful effects of water pollution, people need to be educated on the problems on the causes, effects and solutions of water pollution (Dura, Kambourova & Simeonova, 2006).
Forms and Causes of Water Pollution
There are different forms of water pollution, which include nutrients, microbiological, chemical, oxygen depletion and suspended matter. Chemical pollution results from the agricultural and industrial chemicals, such as solvents, petroleum, metals and pesticides that run off into streams, rivers and oceans. Nutrients required for plant growth and yields when applied in excessive amounts can result in an influx, in the algae and weeds found in water bodies that can increase the level of contamination drinking water, clog water filters and utilize the oxygen needed for the organisms or creatures living in water. Oxygen depleting pollution can result from an increase in the substances or elements that are biodegradable which ultimately causes the microorganisms to utilize all the available oxygen. Microbiological pollution results water contamination by microorganisms, such as viruses, protozoa and bacteria, which, when ingested, can cause extremely harmful effects. Pollution from suspended matter occurs when there is the existence of unusually large molecules that are not able to mix with water molecules. This form of material is referred to as particulate matter, and the suspended particles ultimately settle, thus, resulting into a thick silt layer at the bottom of lakes and rivers, which can cause harmful effects to the marine life which thrive at the bottom level of the water bodies. Although, water pollution occurs in different forms, each of them poses a risk to the organisms, as well as causes contamination to filters and drinking water (Twardowska et al, 2006).
The main causes of water pollution include oil pollution, marine dumping, industrial waste, atmospheric deposition, wastewater and sewage. Marine dumping is a key problem that is capable of taking many years to eliminate, while at the same time affecting marine life. For example, plastic packaging degradation can take over 400 years degradation of aluminum takes over 200 years, while the degradation of glass cannot be enumerated in terms of the time span. Atmospheric deposition is a cause of water pollution that results from air pollution. Air pollution involves pollution of atmospheric gases, which combine with rain water in order to result in acid rain. This results in the pollution of marine habitats, such as lakes and rivers, and subsequently, harming the aquatic life. Oil pollution is a common cause of pollution that results from various sources, such as oil spills, run offs, routine shipping and dumping. Oil spills account for approximately twelve per cent of the oil that find its way in the ocean with other percentage coming from drains, shipping travel and dumping. The industries are another vital source of water pollution, which results in the emission of pollutants that are potentially harmful to the environment, human beings and other creatures. Some of the pollutants emitted from various industries include lead, nitrates, oils, phosphates, asbestos, mercury and sulfur. Wastewater includes sewage that contains urine and feces produced from households, industries and agricultural sources. Sewage undergoes treatment in a water treatment plant before being released for disposal into the ocean. If it not treated in an effective way, then sewage will result into contamination of the environment and water bodies, and carry chemicals and diseases which can cause health problems (Twardowska et al, 2006).
Effects of Water Pollution
There are several effects of water pollution to the human health, lives of other organisms and the environment. These include spread of diseases through drinking of water that has been polluted causing diseases, such as typhoid, diarrhea and cholera infections. Consumption of highly contaminated water through pollution can affect body organs, such as causing injury to kidneys and heart. Water pollution also causes harm to the food chain because of the existence toxins found in the water, which can harm aquatic life, thus, resulting into a breakage in the food chain link. The contaminations of water increase the algal population present in water, because waste, such as animal manure, urea and vegetable peelings are a source of food to the algae. The growth of algae is determinable by the amount of waste released in a water source. An alga is also a source of food for bacteria, which ultimately decrease the amount of oxygen contained in water, thus, causing harm to other living organisms in the water. The erosion of soil into the water bodies can lead to flooding, especially in case of heavy rainfall. Water pollution also causes harm to animals, such as birds that get into water contaminated with oil, and die from exposure to cold air and water, which damages the feathers. Other animals can also be harmed when they feed on dead fish from contaminated water (Pereira, 2009).
Water Pollution Arguments
In the past decades, numerous legislation forms have been passed, in order to control or eliminate water pollution. For example, in the United States, there was the enactment of the Federal Water Pollution Act of 1948 by the government, in order to offer technical assistance to the local governments and the state in controlling pollution. It was until 1972 that the Clean Water Act began aiding in controlling surface water pollution from municipal and industrial wastes, in the US. The Act was responsible for setting the standards of managing water resources and ensuring compliance with the original desires and goals of the Act. This form of legislation ensures that water resources must be put into quality use that fully supports domestic and recreational use, as well as aquatic life. However, such legislation is not sufficient on their own in the quest of improving or maintaining the quality of water resources and supply (US, 2011).
It is openly known that the problems and challenges that arise due to water pollution are capable of strongly crippling the life of various organisms, and plants occurring on the surface of the earth. However, despite efforts by the government which are sometimes unmatched, stout or unequal in controlling pollution, it cannot solve the issue of increased water pollution and its effects by itself. It must be fully acknowledged or understood that it is the responsibility of all the human beings inhabiting the planet to be informed, so as to deal effectively with the threats and risks, which are on the increase because of water pollution. The human race needs to be familiar with the local water supplies and sources, and various effective ways of disposing toxic or harmful wastes. Plans also need to focus on discouraging unequaled education and unwavering awareness, because these factors can contribute to the reduction of the efforts of combating water pollution. If the measures of controlling water pollution are not taken seriously, and the environment ignored, then the severe impacts of water pollution will continue to prevail with a significant proportion of severe damage to life on earth to unimaginable levels (Pereira, 2009). Evaluations from scientific perspectives indicate the inevitable deterioration of the planet in a slow but sure way. Therefore, the existing members of the society must work extra hard to ensure that previous mistakes are rectified, in order not to pass the environmental problems to the future generation. Politicians also need to act on the lines of development of the environment, on ways of sustainability, rather that preach on economic agendas, which can only solve the issues of the current times. Theories and strategies of conservations need to be embraced and researched for the best interests of the society. Members of the earth also need to upgrade with the rise in technology, alongside the continued evolution of the human race, in order to ensure the commencement of the reversal of the global mistreatment effects with the most abundant of the natural resources, including water sources (Marinov & Brebbia, 2010).
Conclusion and Recommendations
The largest contributors to water pollution are waste and animal runoff. A good start to dealing with this predicament would be to educate the farmers on practices that reduce remittance of farm inputs, such as chemical fertilizers and pesticides, into the water sources. They can opt for using organic ways of farming, which involve the use of no pesticides and other chemicals. Another measure would be to protect the water filters by reducing destruction of wetlands, which are indispensable in serving as a buffer in aiding pollutants and filter runoffs from getting access to the water supplies. Conservation of safe water is also achievable by putting up measures of reducing sewage pollution, such as installing low flow toilets as a requirement in households, in order to reduce water waste, as well as effective methods of sewage treatments in the treatment plans.
Rain water usually flows directly over the soil, while sweeping away sediments and pollutants on the soil into the nearby stream, river or other water points. This problem can be handled by promoting forestation and reforestation, in order to ensure permanent soil cover and preservation of water filters. Another strategy to reduce water pollution would be to implement the elements of practicality and affordability. These can be enforced by the concerned institutions including the government. Such measures include cleanup of contaminated groundwater, setting up of additional advanced water treatment facilities, and management of industrial waste. There are other measures or strategies, which can be of use in preventing and managing water pollution and these actions will assist in eliminating or controlling water pollution. Everyone should take it upon as a responsibility in implementing these measures, which will in turn make a significant difference in tackling the climate change (Dura, Kambourova & Simeonova, 2006).