Comprising over 70% of the Earth’s surface, water is undoubtedly the most precious natural resource that exists on our planet. Without the seemingly invaluable compound comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, life on Earth would be non-existent: it is essential for everything on our planet to grow and prosper. Although we as humans recognize this fact, we disregard it by polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Subsequently, we are slowly but surely harming our planet to the point where organisms are dying at a very alarming rate. In addition to innocent organisms dying off, our drinking water has become greatly affected as is our ability to use water for recreational purposes. In order to combat water pollution, we must understand the problems and become part of the solution.
Microorganisms that live in water feed on biodegradable substances. When too much biodegradable material is added to water, the number of microorganisms increase and use up the available oxygen. This is called oxygen depletion.
A lot of the Earth's water is found underground in soil or under rock structures called aquifers. Humans often use aquifers as a means to obtain drinking water, and build wells to access it. When this water becomes polluted it is called groundwater pollution.
Groundwater pollution is often caused by pesticide contamination from the soil, this can infect our drinking water and cause huge problems.
Nutrients are essential for plant growth and development. Many nutrients are found in wastewater and fertilisers, and these can cause excess weed and algae growth if large concentrations end up in water.
This can contaminate drinking water and clog filters.
This can be damaging to other aquatic organisms as the algae use up the oxygen in the water, leaving none for the surrounding marine life.
Dumping of litter in the sea can cause huge problems. Litter items such as 6-pack ring packaging can get caught in marine animals and may result in death. Different items take different lengths of time to degrade in water:
Cardboard – Takes 2 weeks to degrade.
Newspaper – Takes 6 weeks to degrade.
Photodegradable packaging – Takes 6 weeks to degrade.
Foam – Takes 50 years to degrade.
Styrofoam – Takes 80 years to degrade.
Aluminum – Takes 200 years to degrade.
Plastic packaging – Takes 400 years to degrade.
Glass – It takes so long to degrade that we don’t know the exact time
Oceans are polluted by oil on a daily basis from oil spills, routine shipping, run-offs and dumping.
Oil spills make up about 12% of the oil that enters the ocean. The rest come from shipping travel, drains and dumping.
Pollution Caused By Underground Storage Leakage
A tank or piping network that has at least 10 percent of its volume underground is known as an underground storage tank (UST). They often store substances such as petroleum, that are harmful to the surrounding environment should it become contaminated.
The following are the ways to prevent water pollution:
Conserve water by turning off the tap when running water is not necessary. This helps prevent water shortages and reduces the amount of contaminated water that needs treatment.
Be careful about what you throw down your sink or toilet. Don’t throw paints, oils or other forms of litter down the drain.
Use environmentally household products, such as washing powder, household cleaning agents and toiletries.
Take great care not to overuse pesticides and fertilisers. This will prevent runoffs of the material into nearby water sources.
By having more plants in your garden you are preventing fertiliser, pesticides and contaminated water from running off into nearby water sources.
Don’t throw litter into rivers, lakes or oceans. Help clean up any litter you see on beaches or in rivers and lakes, make sure it is safe to collect the litter and put it in a nearby dustbin.
Removal of Pollutants from Waste Water (Waste Water treatment)
Before raw sewage can be safely released back into the environment, it needs to be treated correctly in a water treatment plant. In a water treatment plant, sewage goes through a number of chambers and chemical processes to reduce the amount and toxicity of the waste .
Septic tanks treat sewage at the place where it is located, rather than transporting the waste through a treatment plant or sewage system. Septic tanks are usually used to treat sewage from an individual building