Despite the fact that this natural resource is essential for life, most people don’t actually think much about the importance of water. It’s also easy for many to ignore the dangers of water pollution, especially when those people live in areas where the resource is plentiful. Unfortunately, not everyone can enjoy an environment where drinking, cooking and bathing water are always clean and easy to get. This resource is one of the most threatened and most ignored on the planet.
Water pollution is a major problem all over the world. In fact, it may be the biggest cause of disease and death on the planet, accounting for the deaths of about 14,000 people a day. In India alone, about 700 million people don’t have access to proper sanitation, causing contamination of their local water supplies with bacteria and sewage. The importance of water contamination doesn’t go away in more developed countries, however. Almost half of US streams and lakes are considered polluted. About a third of the country’s bays and estuaries suffer from pollution, too.
What is Water Pollution?
It can be hard to determine when a stream, reservoir, river or similar body is polluted. Officially, the definition of pollution involves contaminants added by human behavior. If these contaminants support human use, such as purification for drinking, they are not considered polluting.
Types of Pollution
Pollution can occur on the surface or in groundwater. When pollution happens in surface bodies, it is classified into point source pollution from a single identifiable source and non-point pollution that enters the body from diffuse sources like agricultural runoff. Groundwater contamination is often a side effect of surface pollution.
Pollution doesn’t have to ruin water supplies. Conservation experts can look at water facts and determine water conservation plans that will help people all over the world retain safe access. A sustainable plan could be quite disruptive, however. It requires companies to pay more attention to their dumping and manufacturing operations. Consumers also have to be more careful about their individual behavior. History shows that these behaviors rarely happen on their own, so government regulation may be required.