Water is incredibly important to all of us. The surface of the Earth is 70% water, and there’s even more below the surface that we can’t see without digging for it. Although it’s important to take care of the whole environment, water is our most important resource and must be protected at all costs. Unfortunately, water pollution and water contamination are huge problems that face everyone in the world today, and although steps have been taken to remedy these issues, they’re a long way off from disappearing completely.
To better understand what’s going on in the world today, you need to know the difference between water pollution and water contamination.
Water pollution – Water pollution happens when something is present in water that shouldn’t be and that something can cause harm to humans, the environment, or both. When you hear the term “water pollution” you probably think of oil spills in the ocean, and that’s certainly one type to be concerned with. However, there are many other kinds of water pollution you might never have thought of before. Did you know, for example, that E. coli can be a type of water pollution? Nitrates, lead, and even algae can all contribute to the pollution of water under the right circumstances.
Water contamination – Contaminated water is similar to polluted water, but it’s not quite the same. Contaminants aren’t always dangerous, or they might not be present in levels high enough to become dangerous. Lead is, once again, a great example. When trace amounts of lead are present in water, that water can be called contaminated. However, until the lead builds up to levels that are dangerous for human consumption, it’s not referred to as polluted.
Water depletion – Depletion isn’t a type of pollution or contamination itself, but it is a very real problem. There is only so much fresh water available on the planet, and as more of it becomes polluted and contaminated, less is available for regular use. Depletion can also encourage pollution problems. As water levels sink in freshwater sources, bacteria build up, algae grows more readily, and pollution issues thrive.
These three problems are responsible for water issues around the world. Sometimes, water pollution incidents occur accidentally. These can be very devastating, but in many of these situations, nothing could have been done to stop them. Sometimes, however, they happen because of purposeful human error, such as illegal dumping of chemical wastewater. Sadly, in these cases, something could have easily been done to stop the pollution, but nothing happened until it was too late.
If you’re concerned with water quality in your neighborhood or around the world, there are many things you can do to get involved. You can make changes in your own home to improve the quality of water where you live, and you can even pitch in to make a difference in developing countries on the other side of the globe. Do as little or as much as you want, but remember that the burden of keeping water clean falls to all of us. The more you do to make a difference, the better off the water in your area will be. You might even encourage your friends and family to start paying more attention to healthier water practices, too.