Table of Contents
Extracting resources from the earth.
Over the past century, industrial and agricultural wastes have been dumped in rivers and lakes. Water pollution has continued to damage the environment and food supply. Drinking water pollution has also been linked to various waterborne illnesses such as cholera. Water pollution has exposed aquatic life to an unimaginable level of danger. Water pollution is a problem that has different solutions in each country. However, most countries focus on the pollution of water at the source and work to reduce the problem. Water pollution causes can be direct or indirectly caused depending on how quickly the factor pollutes the water. Direct pollution has an immediate impact, while indirect pollution can have a delayed effect.
Research shows that indirect factors are still causing water pollution, even though their impacts have been delayed. It is too late now to stop them. Since they are linked to human activity, which can cause environmental and water source changes, long-term measures will be required to address these factors. Since governments and people believe they can’t suspend certain activities in order to reduce water pollution, environmental conservation efforts aimed at reducing water pollution often leave out some causes. Some governments do not believe that they can stop the agricultural activities that are causing water pollution, as these activities have a direct impact on their income. Although factors of water pollution might be different in various countries, mining, urbanization, deforestation, agriculture, industrialization and damming of rivers are some common factors that contaminate water.MiningExploration of underground minerals produces wastes in the form of leaks and salts that find their way into water bodies and cause pollution. Mining has been named as a leading cause of pollution of water in India and other countries (Akhtar et.al., 2014). It is hard to clean up the heavy metals in minerals that leak into nearby water bodies. The minerals may be good for both humans and animals but an excess can harm the health of livestock and people (Ashraf and colleagues, 2010). Water pollution by mines is associated with severe illnesses like heart failure. Some minerals are so corrosive that they make the water so hard, plants can’t absorb any water. In these cases, mining pollution leads to plant death and desertification.
Mining waste and soils are pollutants because they contaminate water and make it unfit to drink. Chaudhry Malik (2017: p. 3) claim that pollution causes aquatic life to die because they cannot survive in murky or dirty water. The dirty water in the ocean can cause fish to die from gill blockage. Aquatic life can also die from sudden changes in mineral concentrations of water bodies, as they are not used.
Water pollution can be caused directly or inadvertently by the growing population of urban areas. The sewerage system in several cities is inadequate. In urban areas, wastes are being dumped into the water. Water pollution occurs when people attempt to expand cities so that they can accommodate an increasing population. For example, water pollution can be caused by the construction of new buildings in many urban areas. Debris is created during construction as structures are removed to make room for new development. When debris is washed in water bodies, it causes pollution. Urbanization requires increased food production in order to feed an ever-growing population. In order to increase yields in urban areas and to meet growing demand, farmers tend to use chemical fertilizers (Chaudhry, Malik and Malik 2017). Some chemicals end up in rivers and lakes, causing pollution. Urbanization is an important part of the development process, but it must be managed to keep water free of pollutants.
DeforestationAlthough deforestation is associated with clearing land for agriculture, logging of trees for timber and firewood have become common activities that are making countries lose forest cover. Deforestation removes the soil’s protective cover, making it more susceptible to soil erosion. Deforestation strips soil of its protective cover, making it prone to erosion. Water pollution occurs when soil is destroyed (EPA, 2016). Fish and other aquatic animals are at risk of death when their gills get blocked by soiled water. The bacteria in dirty water are also harmful to human health. As plants absorb dirty contaminated water, they become exposed to bacteria. Planting more trees will help to address the deforestation effects on water quality.
AgricultureAgricultural activities that are not eco-friendly have been said to be the leading cause of water pollution in various countries. Individuals and governments are faced with a dilemma when it comes to regulating water pollution caused by agriculture (Ashrafet al. 2010). The dilemma is caused by the need to simultaneously reduce agricultural factors causing water pollution and ensure that there is enough food available to feed a population. Water pollution is caused by agriculture, as soils are loosened so they can absorb water. Loose, arid soils can be prone to erosion and make the water unfit for consumption by humans and aquatic life.
When runoff waters wash fertilizers into water bodies, they cause water pollution. Runoff water from agriculture fields can cause water eutrophication, which causes chemicals like phosphate to dissolve in water. Chaudhry (2017) states that eutrophic waters are susceptible to algae and cyanobacteria, which reduce the oxygen content of water. Deoxygenated or contaminated water can be harmful to humans and plants. Cyanobacteria may also be contributing to the poisoning of food. Nitrogen compounds used in fertilizer production are the main cause of water deficiency. Chaudhry & Malik (2017) state that aquatic plants and animals cannot survive in water with low oxygen levels. Nitrogen leaches and dissolves in water very easily. Increased runoff is linked to a high leaching ratio, which can cause underground water contamination. So, when nitrogen-based fertilisers are used in agriculture, the water below the soil is contaminated.
Water pollution is caused by pesticides, herbicides, and other chemicals used in agriculture. This is especially true when they are applied without control. Some herbicides & pesticides leach easily and contaminate water underground (Chaudhry, Malik & Chaudhry, 2017). Leaching caused by some herbicides or pesticides causes the accumulation in soil of Selenium. Selenium is a heavy metal and can be toxic to waterbodies. Pesticides that are difficult to degrade can also cause damage because they get into water bodies. In turn, this can lead to the death of animals and plants.
IndustrializationIndustrial activities can directly or indirectly cause water pollution. For example, fuel emissions in industries can have a direct relationship with water contamination. Fuel emissions are a threat to almost all natural resources (Chaudhry, Malik and 2017). When fossil fuels are burned, they release harmful particles into the atmosphere. Some fossil fuels are also capable of contaminating water. Carbon compounds are released into the air when gasoline is burned to power factories. Carbon compounds wash into water during rainstorms.
In addition to groundwater contamination, industrial wastes can also pollute surface or groundwater. Industrial wastes contain alkaline and acids compounds that can cause water to be unsuitable for people, plants and animals. Akhtar and al. According to Akhtar et al. (2014), industrial wastes provide conditions that encourage bacteria to grow in water. In industrialized nations, the presence of bacteria is one of the leading causes of waterborne disease. In addition, the hot air that is released from factories causes water to heat up as it becomes contaminated. High temperatures in the water can encourage bacteria to grow.
As industrialization grows, so does the demand for fossil and renewable fuels. Water pollution can be caused by fossil fuels used in industry. In Michigan, for instance, water pollution from 2016 is linked to toxic substances that were dumped in water bodies by companies (Smith,2017). This pollution caused serious health problems and led to the visit of then US president Barrack Obama in Flint, Michigan (Mclntee). Also, leaks at nuclear power stations can be fatal and cause environmental damage. In addition, burning coal as an energy source for industry can lead to pollution of water due to the smoke particles in the air. Various industrial activities can cause water pollution by causing leaks and air pollutants that are harmful to humans, plants and animals.
The construction of dams along waterways can affect the water quality in many ways. Water that is discharged from dams will be depleted in nutrients and therefore saline (Chaudhry & Malik, 2017). The saline conditions may be too harsh for aquatic life and plants. The eutrophication of water can occur at river dams where the water does not move for a long time. Such water can become polluted which is harmful to humans and animals.
ConclusionWater pollution is a global issue due to the need for the commodity. Understanding the factors responsible for water pollution helps identify measures to address each one. Understanding how mining can cause water pollution, for example, will help guide policies around mineral exploration near water bodies. As a way to deal with water pollution, controling urbanization could be a good policy. Investment in eco-friendly agricultural practices can also be used to reduce water pollution from pesticides. In order to combat water pollution due to industrial activities, renewable energy investments can be made.