Effects of Nitrate on Water Quality

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Water, water everywhere and not a drop to spare. This is the reality – especially when regarding the amount of freshwater available. Fact: The earth contains only 3.5% freshwater. Fact: 98.8% of all freshwater is shielded from our grasp in glaciers or groundwater. Fact: Only 0.0003% of the Earth’s water is accessible for consumption. With such a minute quantity of freshwater available, the high amount of pollution contaminating this water is appalling. Water quality levels are decreasing, hurting us as well as the countless organisms depending on freshwater habitats to be safe homes. One of the main contaminants, nitrates, which spring from mainly manmade sources, are especially treacherous…

Many people are unaware of the impact of nitrate ions in freshwater habitats. Nitrate presence is imperative for plant growth and development. This is because nitrogen is a key ingredient in the nucleic acid structure of plants. The natural level of nitrate concentration in freshwater is 1 milligram/Liter (mg/L). However, due to agricultural activity, these levels are rapidly increasing.

Increasing levels of nitrates are tipping the balance of freshwater habitats. The typically gradual rate of eutrophication (the dramatic growth of plants and algae) is accelerating because of the excessive presence of this nutrient. Due to eutrophication, algal blooms, which are clusters of algae, form at the water’s surface. These algal clusters block the sunlight from reaching the other aquatic organisms beneath the water’s surface. Additionally, eutrophication distorts the dissolved oxygen levels, and causes hypoxia (lack of oxygen). The solution to preventing excess buildup of nitrates in freshwater bodies is to cut them off at the source....

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... into the watershed. The world is filled with a multitude of locations which contain the proper geography for the construction of wetlands. All that is left is to implement these habitats at a global level.

Implementing constructed wetlands at the global level is completely doable. The low construction and management costs of CW make it an affordable solution. Managing the habitats requires much less attention than other nitrate-desalination procedures. As long as we fulfill our duty and avoid littering on these habitats, the wetland productivity will remain high. CW provide the perfect solution to disposing of excess nitrates in a clean, natural way. Additionally, countless biological life can depend on CW to provide safe housing. With the power of constructed wetlands, freshwater habitats will thrive and prosper for future generations.

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