What is Water Pollution?

Water Pollution is the contamination of water bodies, usually a result of human activities. Water bodies include for example lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers, and groundwater. It results when contaminants are introduced into the natural environment. For example, releasing inadequately treated wastewater into natural water bodies can lead to the degradation of aquatic ecosystems. In turn, this can lead to public health problems for people living downstream. They may use the same polluted river water for drinking or bathing or irrigation.

Water contamination is measured by analyzing water samples. Physical, chemical, and biological tests can be conducted. Control of water pollution requires appropriate infrastructure and management plans. The infrastructure may include wastewater treatment plants. Sewage treatment plants and industrial wastewater treatment plants are usually required to protect water bodies from untreated wastewater.

Water contamination can result in human health problems, poisoned wildlife, and long-term ecosystem damage. When agricultural and industrial runoff floods waterways with excess nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, these nutrients often fuel algae blooms that then create dead zones or low-oxygen areas where fish and other aquatic life can no longer thrive.

Water Pollution Causes

Water pollution can come from a variety of sources. Pollution can enter the water directly, through both legal and illegal discharges from factories, for example, or imperfect water treatment plants. Spills and leaks from oil pipelines or hydraulic fracturing operations can degrade water supplies. Wind, storms, and littering—especially of plastic waste—can also send debris into waterways.

Thanks largely to decades of regulation and legal action against big polluters, the main cause of U.S. water quality problems is now “nonpoint source pollution,” when pollutants are carried across or through the ground by rain or melted snow. Such runoff can contain fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides from farms and homes; oil and toxic chemicals from roads and industry; sediment; bacteria from livestock; pet waste; and other pollutants.

Main Causes of Water Pollution

  • Industrial activities
  • Urbanisation
  • Religious and social practices
  • Agricultural runoff
  • Accidental oil spills, nuclear fallouts etc.

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