What Is Water Pollution

What Is Water Pollution

Water pollution is the introduction of pollutants into freshwater bodies of water. Some of these pollutants can be naturally occurring. A possible list of pollutants includes bacteria, salts, chemicals, organic matter, fertilizers, nutrients and heavy metals.

Water pollution has many adverse effects on the ecology, flora and fauna of the receiving watercourse. If polluted water is drunk by humans the effects vary from mild to no effect, to spreading major killing diseases such as cholera and typhoid. Polluted drinking water is the top cause of waterborne disease in developing nations when waterborne contaminants enter wells and rivers used as untreated public water supplies.

Health Effects of Water Pollution

The health effects of water pollution are not only to the body but to the ecosystem as well. When pollutions are present, it is very hard for nature to maintain a thriving aquatic ecosystem. Water pollutants can cause up to 90 percent of all waterborne diseases, according to the National Water Quality Survey (NAWQA).

A potentially dangerous chemical for a wide range of aquatic organisms is nitrate. When this nitrogen compound pollutes water it acts as a nutrient that causes algal blooms. I typical source of nitrate is from farm fertilizer run-off.

The growth of the algae in those blooms consumes all the oxygen in the water, and all forms of life which need the oxygen to survive will eventually die. That’s just one example of a polluting chemical, but all have one thing in common. The contaminants are harmful to not only plants and animals but also aquatic insects.

Many toxic chemicals can cause pollution which is directly harmful to everything from fish, frogs and turtles, as well as native species. When the lower forms of life are harmed, such as plants and algae, the higher life-forms higher up the food chain also suffer. For this reason, although you might think that the loss of one species might not matter scientists are now realizing that all creatures are very important in maintaining the long term health of any aquatic ecosystem.

What May be Pollution in One River Might Not be in Another

What is considered to be pollution varies according to the watercourses themselves, so most government bodies, who have a duty to protect watercourses from pollution, categorize each river according to the type of river, as follows:

  • Lowland watercourses may always contain a lot of silt and solid matter, especially during storms. Life in those rivers is well-adjusted to the murky condition of the water and high levels of silt, clay, and mud are not considered to be pollution, as they are perfectly quite natural.
  • On the other hand, many mountain streams run clear all the time and life in those can be highly sensitive to rises in the levels of suspended solids in the water by human disturbance. Salmon, for example, need clear water and bare stones just beneath the surface if they are to spawn successfully.

Toxins can contribute to the growth of bacterial cells, which are toxic to aquatic organisms. This may cause a decline in the number of fish and water plants, which are important to the aquatic ecosystem. Additionally, the toxins can lead to the death of aquatic insects and plankton.

What Activities Cause Water Pollution?

The major human activities leading to water pollution include:

  • the disposal of organic waste products from industrial and agricultural processes if not carefully regulated,
  • improper human (sewage) waste disposal management and
  • improper disposal of hazardous wastes from industries.
  • Disposal of toxic wastes and other wastes from industrial and agricultural processes

All these can become a source of water pollution.https://www.google.com/afs/ads/i/iframe.html#slave-1-1

Agricultural Watercourse Pollution

Agricultural pollution results from the use of pesticides, herbicides and defoliants. The pollutants which cause water pollution are volatile organic compounds and nitrogen trifluoride.

Manufacture and Chemical Industries Pollution

Toxic waste products including solvents are generated from manufacture and chemical industries. These can be highly toxic and may also be carcinogenic. The disposal of waste products, improper waste disposal management and improper disposal of hazardous wastes from industries are responsible for this type of pollution.

Toxic waste products are generated from the manufacture of pesticides and herbicides, the disposal of paint and pigments, the management of waste materials from paints and pigments, the disposal of metals and acids.

The need for disposing of all forms of wastes forms a potential source of water pollution. In order to lessen the impact of water pollution on the environment, the waste management industry provides water treatment facilities known as sewage works.

Water Treatment Facilities

The management of waste materials such as sewage and liquid industrial effluents by their treatment at sewage works forms a method of reducing the impact of water pollution. pollution is avoided by taking out the pollutants before the water enters any watercourses.

Industrial wastewater must be treated in sewage works before it enters the river water system. Contaminants may reach the treatment systems through spills or through sewer discharge emissions, however, treatments may be applied that can still make it safe to drink.


Waste materials may not be disposed of in the most eco-friendly manner. The different disposal methods may cause a huge impact on the environment. This occurs if the pollutants are not removed before the liquid is discharged into the watercourse, and hence into the natural environment.

The careful management of all waste materials is essential not only for public health, economic and social development but also it is vitally important to avoid pollution which damages ecology. A damaged ecology will ultimately indirectly damage the health of all the people in the region.