Water/Wastewater

How Does Water Pollution Affect the Environment?

Mar 07 2016 Comments 0

Alongside air pollution – which is the chief catalyst for global warming and climate change – water pollution has to be counted as the most serious damage being wrought on our planet. As our most precious resource, it is imperative that we take every care in safeguarding the water sources that we have and in avoiding needlessly wasting it.

It’s a tragedy to think that a significant percentage of the world’s population still live in abject poverty and struggle to gain access to something as basic as clean drinking water, while many of those living in developed nations have yet to recognise the seriousness of the problem and the responsibility they owe.

How Water Pollution Affects Humans

Water pollution can have disastrous consequences for human life. This is especially true for those living in disadvantaged and undeveloped environments, where the struggle to access clean, healthy water is a daily ordeal. There are a number of methods of disinfecting water so that it is drinkable, including a whole host of chemical-based disinfection techniques. While these can yield positive results, it’s only half the battle.

It’s also essential to ensure that those of us in a more privileged position do not waste water in our daily lives. This comes to down to things as simple as turning off the taps when brushing teeth, sharing bathwater (or better yet, taking short showers) and recycling water in any way we can.

As well as these simple but effective measures, there is also a significant amount of research being conducted into innovative ways of saving water through the wonders of modern technology. Hopefully, as our knowledge increases and our technological prowess unfolds, the problems of drought and dirty drinking water will become a thing of the past within our own lifetimes.

How Water Pollution Affects Animals

Quite aside from the detrimental effects that contaminated water can have on humans, it also can be catastrophic for entire eco-systems. Unregulated or improper disposal of waste from wastewater treatment plants, as well as from many unscrupulous industrial factories and plants, can tip horrible cocktails of chemicals into bodies of water.

The flora and fauna which lives in these waters is simply unequipped to deal with such contamination, and will either disrupt its breeding and feeding patterns by relocating habitats, or, more seriously (and more commonly), simply be killed off by the undue levels of pollution.

Of course, not all water pollution is caused through intentional negligence. Oil spills, run-off and other accidents can carry all sorts of contaminants into rivers, lakes and oceans, compromising the aquatic life which lives there. As well as endangering the population of whole species (as is the case with the almost-extinct Chinese wild sturgeon population), this can have a greater knock-on effect on the food pyramid as a whole.

When the primary food source of a larger underwater animal becomes endangered or extinct, that animal will too encounter problems in finding sustenance (or will become poisoned through eating the same chemicals that killed its prey), thus leading to a chain effect. Where will it end? While we might enjoy our position at the top of the food chain right now, we’d only have ourselves to blame if the pyramid were to come toppling beneath us.

Image Source: Wilfredo Rodriguez   
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