Water Pollution: What Can We Do? – 27 Infallible Ideas to Keep Our Waters Clean!
Everyone’s heard about water pollution, but have you ever wondered what you can do to fight back against it?
Have you ever worried that water pollution could be an inevitable fate for all of us to face?
Do you often worry about your own health and the health of your family if you end up drinking polluted water?
When dealing with water pollution what can we do?
These are all great questions, and they’re ones that need to be addressed. In this article, we’ll discuss the issue of water pollution in the United States as well as around the world and provide you with a quick crash course that can help you get a firm understanding of just how bad the situation really is. From there, we’ll discuss what is being done about water pollution and ways you can pitch in to make a difference.
Whether you’re looking for something to do to cut back on pollution that already exists, clean up polluted waters, or prevent pollution from ever happening in the first place, there are plenty of tips listed here that can help you get started. There are even a few suggestions in the sections below for industries and companies to keep in mind when looking for ways to reduce negative environmental impacts on water.
It doesn’t matter who you are. You can always find something you can do to make a difference for the better and reduce water pollution in your area or around the world. Get ready to learn about some of the best ways as you read on.
The Problem of Water Pollution
1. Water pollution is an issue that affects freshwater and marine water both around the world.
70% of the surface of the earth is covered in water, and we rely on that water to survive. Everyone has to have water to drink, bathe, wash clothes, clean food, and raise plants and animals. So it stands to reason, then, that when that water gets polluted, everyone is bound to suffer.
2. Water pollution hurts the environment, too.
When polluted water gets too dirty to sustain fish life, those fish die off in huge numbers. The birds and mammals that eat those fish slowly starve out and die, or they’re forced to move to a new location where they’re not supposed to be and they may start attacking people because of this. Even plants that grow in and around polluted water sources die off quickly when they’re left with only diseased and dirty water to help them grow.
3. Depending on the type of water pollution in question, there may be very severe consequences from exposure to it.
Dangerous chemicals that pollute water, for example, may cause serious illness in anyone who drinks that water. They may lead to poisoning in the bloodstream, very severe diarrhea and vomiting, or even cancer in some situations. Heavy metal poisoning can do the same, while bacterial pollution is the leading cause of the spread of disease and illness around the world.
4. Remember, as you’re learning, that water pollution and water contamination aren’t quite the same thing.
Contaminated water is very common, but it might not always hurt you. Polluted water is always dangerous to either the environment or humans, and most of the time it poses a great risk to both. Polluted water is worse than contaminated water, but pollution usually begins as contamination.
Quick Stats About Water Pollution
It’s good to have a basic understanding of what water pollution really means for people and for the environment, but when it comes to truly comprehending the impact of this problem, nothing can explain it quite like statistics can. Take a look at these quick stats to help give you a good idea of just how serious this problem can really be.
5. Around the world, 783 million people don’t have regular access to safe, clean drinking water.
This translates to 1 in 9 people who are left without enough fresh water to keep themselves healthy. In many cases, they don’t even have enough to keep from being severely dehydrated.
6. At least 80% of illnesses in developing countries can be traced back to poor drinking water conditions.
This is largely because there are no ways to purify drinking water in these places, and many of the people living there still rely on surface water instead of groundwater. When surface water meets with unsanitary conditions, the results are a bacteria-filled parasite-laced mess.
7. Although water pollution affects the whole world, Sub-Saharan Africa feels this problem the worst by far.
In this part of Africa alone, 319 million people don’t have access to reliable drinking water. Two-thirds of the people in Sub-Saharan Africa rely on surface water solely with no access to groundwater, and 695 million of the people in this part of the world are without quality sanitation conditions.
8. Healthcare in Sub-Saharan Africa suffers from a lack of clean water, too.
42% of all healthcare facilities in this part of the world do not have a clean water source within 500 miles and 36% of these don’t have any soap available for hand washing. 16% of these facilities have no real improved sanitation conditions at all, and with no clean water around to help, this situation doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon.
9. 70% of water used around the world is devoted to agricultural processes and irrigation.
With so much water going toward our crops, it’s surprising that agricultural is also the leading cause of water pollution in the world today. Chemicals from pesticides and bacteria from fertilizer make up a huge part of annual water pollution issues around the world. This polluted water, when used for watering crops, can spread pollution to food as well.
10. 1 in 5 deaths in children and infants under the age of 5 can be attributed to a waterborne condition, illness, or disease caused by lack of clean drinking water.
Dehydration from severe diarrhea and vomiting often causes death in young children. This can be related to dysentery, typhoid, cholera, and a number of other water illnesses.
Main Contributors to Water Pollution
As you can see, there’s a lot going on around the world in terms of water pollution. While developing countries may feel this problem much more severely than the rest of the world, developed countries have to contend with it every day too. In the United States, there are already some bodies of water so polluted it seems like they might never be able to be cleaned up all the way. So what contributes to water pollution like this anyway? Below you’ll learn about just some of the contributing factors that lead to this serious problem.
- Dumping – The term “dumping” refers to a few different issues. This may include marine dumping of waste, garbage, and chemicals into the ocean, and it might also refer to a freshwater version of the same thing. Companies dump waste illegally in rivers all the time, and this process was legal up until just a few decades ago. Individuals sometimes dump their garbage into rivers as well.
- Runoff – Runoff comes from a variety of sources, but most often from landfills. Anywhere chemicals are present, these chemicals can be carried through runoff until they reach surface water sources. Even if there’s no surface water around, groundwater remains threatened by this type of pollution.
- Agriculture – This is the leading cause of water pollution in the world today. Pesticides that seep into the ground pollute groundwater with chemicals that can have devastating health and environmental consequences. This is largely what has led to the destruction of the wetlands.
- Underground chemical storage – Chemicals stored below ground can leak easily, especially when regular maintenance is kept up. When this happens, they seep into groundwater and are carried to surface water eventually as well. This can lead to polluted drinking water in no time.
- Leaks and spills – Leaks and spills might not happen on purpose, but they remain some of the best-known causes of water pollution around the world. Large oil spills make headlines, but there are dozens of smaller chemical spills and leaks that take place at storage facilities and factories almost every day that no one really knows about.
- Radiation – Radiation is given off by waste products that come from nuclear power plants and some other types of facilities. When radioactive gas finds its way into fresh drinking water sources, the results can be potentially fatal to anyone who comes into contact with this water. It also slowly kills off the surrounding environment.
Ideas for Reducing Water Pollution
When we work together, we can reduce the amount of water pollution around the world. However, there are some places where pollution is already in full swing. These are usually rivers that have become so choked with pollution that they are no long viable sources of clean drinking water. These places exist in developing countries as well as in the United States, and they’re probably more common than you realize. So what can we do to help water pollution that already exists? In this section, you’ll find a few tips to help you reduce the potential for even more pollution in the same place and how to clean up dirty water, too.
11. Plant lots of plants around your home garden as well as around your driveway.
The more plants you have on your property, the less chance you have for runoff to pollute the groundwater surrounding your home. Plants act as a natural barrier by stopping the flow of groundwater and keeping it from continuing on the path toward surface and drinking water in your area.
12. Use a water-efficient toilet. These toilets come in two styles.
The first is simply a low-flow toilet with no options, and the second allows the person flushing to choose either low-flow or normal flow depending on the specific situation. While installing new toilets in your home may be costly at first, you’ll save a lot of money on your water bill in the long run.
You’ve probably heard many times in your life that recycling is good for the environment, but did you know a huge part of that benefit comes from improving water quality? When you recycle items like plastic, electronics, batteries, and printer ink, you’re keeping harsh chemicals out of landfills. Without these items finding their way into landfills, this reduces the risk of toxic chemical runoff, and water quality improves.
14. Only use your dishwasher and washing machine when you have a full load of dirty dishes or clothes.
By waiting until you have a full load of laundry or dishes to wash, you’ll save on water by not washing several small loads over a few days. This also helps your machines run more efficiently and can help cut down on the cost of your electric bill, too.
15. Use gravel or paving stones in your yard in place of solid asphalt.
When you have solid asphalt in your driveway or as part of your patio, rain doesn’t have anywhere to go when it falls other than to roll off the asphalt and into your yard. When it does this, it carries contaminants from the asphalt with it and can contaminate the groundwater. Use gravel or stones for a more porous option.
16. Never pour oil or gasoline down the storm drains on your street.
Whether you’re working on your car or enjoying another hobby in your home or yard, when it comes time to get rid of oil and gasoline waste, do so responsibly and properly. Pouring it down the storm drains on the street is a fire hazard as well as a serious risk for water pollution. That drain eventually will find its way to a river or to a drinking water facility, and either way, you don’t want oil or gasoline to go along with it.
17. Pitch in and help plant shrubs, bushes and other plants on the banks of local waterways.
This is similar to the way having plants around your home garden can help. Runoff is prevented from entering into these waterways, but keeping their banks well-planted can also cut back on soil erosion that leads to further water pollution.
18. If you have a septic system that isn’t part of the city’s sewage system, be sure to maintain it properly and have it checked on a regular basis.
If you’re on the city’s sewage system you’ll probably be at their mercy in terms of maintenance, but your own septic tank can be monitored as often as you like. Check regularly for leaks or damage that could lead to pollution in the groundwater.
19. Join cleanup days in your area or organize your own.
This is a great way to meet friends with similar interests in preserving the environment, and it can also make a huge difference in cleaning up polluted water sources where you live. If nothing like this exists in your area, there are tons of resources available online to help you get something started
20. Don’t be afraid to tell the proper authorities when you notice serious water pollution issues taking place.
You might feel like you’re being a tattletale, but this is one of the only ways small-scale water pollution issues come to light. Speak up and tell environmental organizations or your local water company about any foul play you notice in terms of local water.
Ideas for Preventing Water Pollution
There aren’t a lot of places around the world where the water isn’t at least contaminated. Pure, perfect water might not exist even in the most natural of settings, but even in situations where water has been contaminated with natural substances, it can be easily cleaned up and purified for drinking purposes. These bodies of water need to be protected to keep them from becoming severely polluted in the future. With the right treatment, contamination can be mostly eradicated and pollution can be halted before it takes place. But what can we do about water pollution before it ever starts? Read on for some tips to help you get started.
21. You might feel like you’re being a tattletale, but this is one of the only ways small-scale water pollution issues come to light.
Speak up and tell environmental organizations or your local water company about any foul play you notice in terms of local water.
22. Turn off the water when you aren’t using it. This can conserve a lot of water over time.
While water conservation isn’t quite the same thing as pollution, they go hand in hand. Conserving water means freshwater sources won’t run out as quickly, and if they aren’t running low, they have less of a chance to be polluted by natural contaminants from the soil.
23. Don’t use a garbage disposal, even if you already have one installed.
These can be convenient, but they can potentially pollute the groundwater around your home with bacteria from food waste as it breaks down in your pipes. If there’s even a small leak, these bacteria can find its way into groundwater and you might end up drinking it.
24. Never throw chemicals, oil, or medication down the drain.
Your drain will eventually be washed into the public sewage lines and then into either a river or your water treatment facility. If it takes medication along with it, the water within becomes polluted very quickly with the harsh chemicals in these medications. Drinking water polluted with medicine is very dangerous especially for animals, but it can harm humans as well.
25. Never use more detergent or soap than you absolutely need to wash clothes or laundry.
Overuse of soap and detergent can mean too much of either one draining out of your machine and into your pipes. Eventually, this can even pollute the water from your whole treatment facility.
26. Don’t use pesticide or fertilizer in your home garden.
Pesticides and fertilizers are both very strong substances with a lot of chemicals in each one. They are the leading contributors of water pollution in the world today, and most of them come from agricultural sites. However, if you use them in your garden, then you might be causing a problem in your own neighborhood too. Don’t run the risk of developing chemical pollution in the groundwater surrounding your home. Just avoid these items altogether.
27. Don’t leave pet waste in your own yard or in someone else’s.
This is not only rude, but it’s also quite unsanitary and can lead to bacteria buildup in your groundwater. Too much pet waste can even contribute to bacterial runoff. You certainly don’t want water finding its way into your tap after it’s been polluted with decay from your pet’s mess! As an added note, don’t bury pets who have passed away in the back yard. This can cause a similar problem unless you have a sealed environmentally-safe container for them.
28. Switch to environmentally friendly cleaning products in your home.
This serves two purposes. First of all, it means you’re preventing the possibility of polluting the groundwater in your yard by using harsh chemical soaps, cleaners, and detergents. Second, it supports companies that make these environmentally-safe products and shows them that consumers are willing to pay for these items. This, in turn, means more of these items will be made, and the less safe versions will slowly be phased out.
29. Don’t work on your car or wash it in your driveway or garage.
It’s tempting to do this kind of work at home, but if you have any other option, try to choose it instead. Washing your car at home gives soap and other chemicals a good chance to wash right off of your driveway and into the groundwater in your yard—or into storm drains on your street. Working on your car can cause the same problem if you spill any oil or gasoline.
30. Never throw trash away in rivers or out your car window on the side of the road.
This is not a very environmentally friendly behavior at all! If you have trash, always place it in the appropriate trash can or recycling bin. If you’re at the beach, out hiking, or anywhere else away from convenient trash and recycling, take your trash home with you. It might seem like a hassle, but if everyone did this, we’d see a huge reduction in water pollution.
31. Try to have any leaks in your home or vehicle fixed as soon as possible.
It’s understandable if you have a leaky vehicle or a problem area in your home that you can’t afford to fix. However, if possible, try to discontinue use of the item or vehicle until the leak can be solved. If this isn’t possible, prioritize saving to fix the leak. This will keep oil, anti-freeze, and other chemicals from seeping into groundwater in and around your home.
Finding ways for individuals and groups to pitch in is a great way to get started battling water pollution. If you don’t help out as an individual or part of a cleanup group with a good cause, then there’s no way for you to really spread the word about water pollution. However, on a much larger scale, there are a few things industries need to be doing to make a difference as well. If you live in a community full of factories or farms, there are a few practices you can speak out about. The more you and your neighbors make your voices heard, the more likely it is that these industries will change their ways and opt for safer and healthier water habits in the future.
- Create clean, quality landfill sites for specific industries. These should go above normal standards of landfill quality and should be dedicated solely to individual industries or locations. This way, it will become convenient for industries to dispose of their waste properly and they won’t have to try to cut corners by sacrificing the environment.
- Regularly monitor water quality and investigate any changes. This is crucial to any industry when it comes to practicing safe water habits. The more regularly a factory, farm, or construction site is monitored for water safety, the better off that water will be. It will also be easier to catch any potential problems before they get too out of hand this way.
- Perform regular tests to identify which industries are the biggest contributors to pollution. Companies won’t like being told they’re one of the major contributors to water pollution in the area, but they will be forced to do something about it if it happens. This can also show consumers who are concerned about environmental issues which companies they might not want to support, at least until positive changes are made.
- Switch to using either nontoxic or less toxic material for all processes. Many times, industries do have less dangerous options they could go with, but they might cost more money to use. This is why it’s vital for anyone who is interested in benefitting water quality and the environment to purchase from companies that spend the extra money it takes to provide safer water usage.
- Always treat was tewate r before it’s disposed of. When wastewater is dumped, stored, or otherwise disposed of without being treated, it can easily percolate into the groundwater or simply wash right into the surface water in the area. By treating it first, this ensures that any leaks and dumping will not cause chemical or bacterial buildup in the nearby water.
- Use sustainable farming methods that don’t rely on chemicals. Farms are some of the worst causes of water pollution around the world. They’ve come to rely so heavily on dangerous practices and chemicals that cause water pollution that they are often unwilling to look at other options. However, if they change these practices, even a little at a time, water quality will improve very quickly.
- Follow strict emissions and dumping regulations and be prepared for penalties if these are not followed. There should always be strict rules to regulate dumping and emissions of potentially harmful substances, and these should always be enforced through hefty fines and other penalties. Right now, this system is very lax, and many companies get away with illegal dumping of toxic substances all the time. In order for water to get clean, this has to be stopped.
You’ve learned a lot since you got started! By now, you should have a firm understanding of what water pollution is and the different types of contributors you need to be on the lookout for. You should also know the difference between groundwater and surface water as well as why both of these are important in their own ways. You should know the risks associated with water pollution, and you should be aware of what a major impact it has on the whole world. And of course, you should’ve found at least a few things you can do to start making a difference today!
Now that you know more about what can be done about water pollution, it’s time to take action. Learning about this problem is a great first step, but there’s so much that can be done. Start small by making a few changes in your home, and then branch out to your neighborhood or even just the street you live on. From there it shouldn’t be too hard at all to get more involved and pay more attention to the condition of water in your whole city or state and even in other places around the world.
There’s something each one of us can do to help fight back against the problem of water pollution. All we have to do is find our individual strengths and stick to them even when it feels like the fight is getting tough. Pretty soon, we are all sure to see an improvement.