Water pollution is an even when bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, streams, oceans, and even the one underground (aquifer) are polluted by chemicals, toxins, microorganisms, oil, radioactive materials, plastics, and other dangerous substances, negatively affecting water quality and making it unsafe for use or consumption.
Humans can only survive so long without water. In fact, the human body won’t be able to make it without water for 3-4 days. This is because we are 60% water.
The world is also mostly made up of water. Water covers most of the surface of the earth at 75%. It is fluid and can mix with anything hence its vulnerability to getting polluted and contaminated.
Causes of Water Pollution
Water gets polluted if it gets contaminated with chemicals, nutrients (unnaturally-occurring), microorganisms, radioactive material, toxins, plastics, and others. Here’s what can cause them:
As much as it’s hard to believe, agriculture can cause water pollution. Although this isn’t true for all agricultural practices, logging of small trees to make way for wider planting vegetables, building roads, and overgrazing can cause soil erosion.
The use of fertilizers can add to pollution as well as pesticides. Fertilizers have phosphates and nitrates to increase soil nutrition. But they can contaminate the waters. Pesticides and insecticides are also chemical-based which adds to water pollution.
Mining has never been in any way good for the environment. Aside from increasing the temperature of the earth and contributing to global warming, mining increases the salt and mineral levels of both soil and water since it’s digging down the ground and can easily reach water reservoirs.
This increase will change the pH of the soil and water which is not good for the health. More treatments will be needed to regulate the water back if it were to be used for drinking. Mining also makes the water dark and cloudy.
Oil mining can directly affect the water if the oil is mined underneath sea beds. However small the leak will be, it will pollute the waters.
Clearly, cutting down of trees for the purpose of trade, development, roads, infrastructures, agriculture, etc. has been, and always will contribute to soil erosion. We’ve seen it happen many times over yet it still always happens even if the consequences have gotten worse.
Whatever it is the soil has like nutrients, chemicals, waste, will go to the waters. The soil itself can be bad for the fishes and aquatic animals. It can block their eyesight and gills and impede movement.
Loss of Wetlands
When wetlands are destroyed, a number of things happen: algae will proliferate because of nutrients from a landmass covering the wetlands, there will be inefficient filtration due to sediments, heavy metals, and minerals, many animals will lose their habitat, and lastly, there will be flooding.
Industries produce wastewater that can cause changes to the pH of the water to be either too acidic or alkaline, temperature, nutrient content, salts and other minerals, and clarity of the water. Needless to say, industries have a lot to do with water pollution. In fact, they contribute to 70% of the wastewater pollution.
Nuclear Power Plants
The earth produces radiation but only in small amounts. Uranium mines and nuclear power plants produce radioactive and nuclear waste in large amounts. Clinics, laboratories, and research facilities also produce radioactive materials and waste for research, medical, and military purposes.
Like plastic, and worse than some plastic, radioactive waste, unfortunately, has a rather long lifespan of thousands of years. And disposing of radioactive waste is very, very, VERY expensive.
The world’s population has never slowed down. It’s not even somewhere near constant. This means that more and more people are in need of a place to stay. This also means that more natural habitats have to be made human habitats.
The more the trees are cut down, the bigger the probability of flooding is. There’s also more waste produced since there is more need for food, water, clothing, and the necessities of living, which leads us to the next cause.
Leaving your trash wherever you go is still a direct cause of water pollution. Remember that the more trash you leave or worse, throw into the ocean or river or even on land, the more the animals die, the more the world warms, and the more it will all come back to haunt us.
Being responsible, considerate, and wise when it comes to our choices is really the best thing we can do.
Incidental Water Pollution
Sometimes, accidents can happen like burst pipes, leaking sewage systems, oil spills, etc. But no matter how small these may be, they can still cause severe damage and pollution to the waters over time.
If we could sum up the causes or gather all of them together, it will all lead to urbanization. As more and more people are walking the earth, there’s no denying that the resources have gone low. People also have to look for jobs and a place to stay.
Urbanization paves the way to more jobs, more roads to take on, more options to choose from, just plainly, more of everything. While this might sound like a good thing to us, it can mean the other way around for the environment and other living beings like animals. It can also come full circle and affect us.
In fact, it already has.
Since there is more of everything, there’s also more chemicals, toxic substances, plastic, minerals, heavy metals, microorganisms, and other things that can harm our waters.
There’s no stopping population growth. The same goes for urbanization. We might still have enough water for our generation today, the coming generations may have to suffer for the lack thereof.
But while we can’t stop these from happening, we can, however, make informed decisions and choices on how we can help the environment, ourselves, and the generations to come by having less waste than we used to, properly disposing our garbage, and choosing natural foods, products, and services over artificial ones.