Pollution of Drinking Water Supplies

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It is widely known that water covers almost three-quarters of the Earth's surface. However, it is not widely known that more than 99 percent of Earth's water is unusable by humans and many other living things. Less than one percent of water which supports most of the forms of life we are familiar with. Unfortunately, that one percent of fresh water becomes more polluted every year. The pollutants that fill our waterways each year are largely unknown. Water pollution comes from a number of unique sources, such as industrial waste, urban storm-water, agricultural runoff, various household chemicals and even nuclear waste. Combining these points of pollution with the increase in global population results in a continuously decreasing amount of clean drinking water for plant and animal life on Earth and an increasing amount of polluted water.

The many sources of pollution, along with the over-pumping of rivers and groundwater have caused drinking water quality to decline nationwide. Agricultural run-off has caused chemical pollution that damages the delicate aquatic ecosystems. Industry has been responsible for chemical pollution by dumping toxic wastes into rivers and on land, thus damaging groundwater supplies by allowing toxins to seep through soil into underground reserves. In addition to chemical pollution, industry is also responsible for thermal chemical pollution, the process of water from rivers used in cooling practices being returned to the rivers many degrees hotter than when it was removed, again disrupting the ecosystem. Poor sanitation of human wastes in water has further polluted the freshwater supply. Almost all drinking water comes from the freshwater supply.

The heavy use of water has cause...

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...rways are not working. Pollution is still an immensely important problem and the life of every living thing on Earth depends upon how clean and abundant sources of water are. Scientists believe that the solutions can be found through the recognition of three major points: Stabilization of the world's population, reducing the water consumption among wealthier countries and development of new technology aimed at conservation. For now, as individuals we must find everyday ways to reduce personal water consumption using simple methods such as using low-flow showers and toilets, as well as using water wisely and efficiently. The key is getting people educated about the problem and motivated to do something about it.


Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships Enger, Eldon and Smith, Bradley 9th Edition McGraw Hill, New York, NY, 2012