Causes of water pollution

Plastic bottles and other garbage washed up on a beach.

Surprisingly, every other person you meet complains of how polluted the waters are. But who is the cause? Is it some alien from Mars? No!

We are our own enemies. Yes, you read that right! People are the primary cause of water pollution. This stems from several activities performed by man. Let us first look at the causes of water pollution from a broader angle:

Deforestation

Man cuts trees and clears bushes to get space for building cities and farming. At the point where the soil’s protective vegetation is cut off, nothing remains to hold the soil. It gets easily eroded. Mud quickly forms after a few minutes of rain and ends up in water bodies. This significantly affects marine life.

Sedimentation

Silt follows land-use changes and agrarian works. The deposits change the water alkalinity and incredibly influence the amphibian life downstream.

Groundwater contamination

Whatever is dumped on the ground by man has a likelihood of finding its way to the groundwater. Talk of human waste, nuclear waste, solid waste, and agricultural chemicals.

When it rains, the toxins in the chemicals seep slowly into the ground. Finally, the groundwater becomes saturated with harmful chemicals, making it unsafe for human use.

Human activities that contaminate water

Plastics and other debris polluting the environnement

1. Modern waste dumping

The present-day waste is unbelievably unsafe to humans and the ecosystem in general.

Many establishments have do not have a proper waste disposal system. They make their work easy by channeling their waste into rivers, knowing it will all be washed downstream.

With several people having this mentality, the entire course of a river can be polluted.

Solid and fluid waste channeled into rivers can increase or decrease the pH of water. Also, it adds various salts and minerals in abnormal proportions.

2. Agrarian run-off

The use of artificial fertilizers and pesticides in farms is another great cause of pollution. Imagine what happens when it rains heavily immediately after you apply fertilizers.

Instead of sinking into the ground to be absorbed by the roots, the balls dissolve and quickly get washed away. Their next destination is the streams.

And since they are rich in nutrients required for plant growth, the rivers literally bloom. This time not with food crops, but algae.

3. Improper sewage disposal

Sewage Pipe with Polluted Water
Sewage Pipe with Polluted Water

Sewage disposal has become an issue of concern. The main disposal points are wetlands and rivers. Many cities make sure to treat the waste before releasing it into the rivers. If the treatment process is not thorough, the rivers, lakes, and oceans end up polluted.

In principle, suspended solids in sewage can naturally be separated as the river flows downstream. The main issue is with the synthetic substances, plastics, and toxic nutrients found in sewage.

Not only that but also disease-causing germs. You literally pass these into the sewage when sick.

4. Burning of fossil fuel

Petroleum derivatives such as coal release great amounts of particles into the air when burnt.

Part of the particles may be poisonous to humans and animals. Additionally, rain mixes with the released particles to form acidic rain.

5. Underground storage leaking

Any tank with part of its volume underground can be categorized as an underground storage tank. Oil is one of the most common fluids stored in such tanks.

Over time, the steel container may erode and bring about spillages. This directly pollutes the groundwater.

Nearby springs end up being unsafe. Consuming such water is likely to make you sick.

6. Rural-urban migration

Throughout the years you have seen people moving from rural to urban areas. This results in water contamination as people crowd beyond certain levels.

With such population pressure, the existing waste disposal systems may not adequately cater for all. What next? People may resort to dumping waste in the streams.

Within the homes, some of the household agents people use may contain toxic chemicals. These are eventually flushed down the toilets and end up in wetlands or streams.

7. Global warming and thermal pollution

The recent excessive rise in temperatures has significantly affected maritime plants and marine life. When water heats up, the amount of dissolved oxygen is reduced.

Rising temperatures additionally cause the weathering of coral reefs. When they are all gone, the microorganisms that depended on them will have nowhere to live, feed, and breed.

8. Marine dumping

Plastic bottles and other garbage washed up on a beach.
Plastic bottles and other garbage washed up on a beach.

In some areas, man literally dumps litter into the sea. This poses a great disadvantage to marine life. Animals can physically get entangled with the litter and die.

Dumping plastics into water is particularly catastrophic. Experts claim that plastics take 400 years to degenerate in water. During all this time, they will be washed by water waves from one point to another, choking every fish they can.

9. Oil contamination

Oil contamination on seas happens nearly every day. Most sea vessels run on oil. Any little leakage from the engines contributes to the overall oil pollution. Oil can also spill as it is being transported.  

Oil does not disintegrate easily, and this is why it presents such danger to marine life.

Feathered marine creatures get their feathers clogged by oil – to the extent they become unable to fly. Oil also forms a film on the water surface and blocks light for photosynthetic marine plants.

10. Atomic waste

Atomic waste considerably affects marine life.
Atomic waste considerably affects marine life.

This is waste produced by modern, clinical, and logical procedures that utilize radioactive materials.

Atomic waste considerably affects marine life. For example, atomic waste can hinder the sun’s beams from reaching marine plants. It can also block oxygen from the fish and other marine life.

To sum it up

Plainly, human beings are to blame for water pollution. As the shortage of clean water continues to bite worldwide, we can only think of how to change our daily actions so as to save our water sources. That is on an individual level.

The leaders, both worldwide and local, also have a part to play in ensuring our water sources remain uncontaminated. I guess the rules should be tightened such that no person responsible for water contamination should escape the arm of the law.