Causes of Water Pollution and Cures to Stop it Now Nature plays a role when it comes to toxins like mercury and other heavy metals, but humans are among the major causes of water pollution. We have always treated the planet with a certain level of disregard, as if we simply thought that nothing we could do would be of any consequence. Now though, the way we have treated our environment is coming back to haunt us. Since the beginning of the industrial revolution we have unleashed 80,000 chemical agents into the environment, and now traces of these chemical agents reside in our drinking water reservoirs.
You may think that such miniscule amounts of these toxins cannot do you any real harm, but the truth is that even chemical traces can be detrimental to your health over a long enough time line. The manmade causes of water pollution are a threat even in small doses simply because there is typically more than one chemical agent at a time in your water. It is a proven fact that when two or more chemicals agents come into contact with one another, the potency of each rises exponentially. This means that you are getting a far higher dose of each agent than you think you are.
Some studies have concluded that you may be ingesting anywhere from five to nine chemical agents in every glass of water that you drink. You are definitely getting at least one chemical with every sip you take, and it is the carcinogen many feel is responsible for the incredible rise in the cancer rate. Chlorine is meant to protect us, but it is taking a tremendous toll on our health. The use of chlorine and other carcinogenic chloramines is necessary for reducing the danger posed by the biological causes of water pollution.
Parasites, cysts, and bacteria in our water have long been the cause of widespread illness and death from waterborne diseases. Chlorine disinfection has kept millions of people alive who otherwise would have succumbed to these diseases at some point. Chlorine has also claimed the lives of millions as one of the major causes of cancer, with the cancer rate rising from 1:50 at the inception of chemical disinfection to 1:2. 5 today. There are more than 2,000 other carcinogenic chemicals that are present in our drinking water as well, and we simply cannot continue ingesting these chemicals and expecting not to get sick.
In order for your family to be shielded from the danger posed by all of the various causes of water pollution, you need to install a home drinking water purification system as soon as possible. A high quality countertop water filter will only run you about $125, but it will provide you with the protection of an activated granular carbon filter, a multi media block, an ion exchange, and a sub micron filter. This is everything you need to keep extremely harmful contaminants out of your home.
With 99% of the causes of water pollution being eliminated from your drinking water by using the correct water filter, you can rest assured that you are doing your very best to preserve the health of your family. Water pollution: an introduction Over two thirds of Earth’s surface is covered by water; less than a third is taken up by land. As Earth’s population continues to grow, people are putting ever-increasing pressure on the planet’s water resources. In a sense, our oceans, rivers, and other inland waters are being “squeezed” by human activities—not so they take up less room, but so their quality is reduced.
Poorer water quality means water pollution. We know that pollution is a human problem because it is a relatively recent development in the planet’s history: before the 19th century Industrial Revolution, people lived more in harmony with their immediate environment. As industrialisation has spread around the globe, so the problem of pollution has spread with it. When Earth’s population was much smaller, no one believed pollution would ever present a serious problem. It was once popularly believed that the oceans were far too big to pollute. Today, with almost 7 billion people on the planet, it has become apparent that there are limits.
Pollution is one of the signs that humans have exceeded those limits. How serious is the problem? According to the environmental campaign organization WWF: “Pollution from toxic chemicals threatens life on this planet. Every ocean and every continent, from the tropics to the once-pristine polar regions, is contaminated. ” Photo: Detergent pollution entering a river. Photo courtesy of US Fish ; Wildlife Service Photo Library. What is water pollution? Water pollution can be defined in many ways. Usually, it means one or more substances have built up in water to such an extent that they cause problems for animals or people.
Oceans, lakes, rivers, and other inland waters can naturally clean up a certain amount of pollution by dispersing it harmlessly. If you poured a cup of black ink into a river, the ink would quickly disappear into the river’s much larger volume of clean water. The ink would still be there in the river, but in such a low concentration that you would not be able to see it. At such low levels, the chemicals in the ink probably would not present any real problem. However, if you poured gallons of ink into a river every few seconds through a pipe, the river would quickly turn black.
The chemicals in the ink could very quickly have an effect on the quality of the water. This, in turn, could affect the health of all the plants, animals, and humans whose lives depend on the river. Thus, water pollution is all about quantities: how much of a polluting substance is released and how big a volume of water it is released into. A small quantity of a toxic chemical may have little impact if it is spilled into the ocean from a ship. But the same amount of the same chemical can have a much bigger impact pumped into a lake or river, where there is less clean water to disperse it.
Water pollution almost always means that some damage has been done to an ocean, river, lake, or other water source. A 1971 United Nations report defined ocean pollution as: “The introduction by man, directly or indirectly, of substances or energy into the marine environment (including estuaries) resulting in such deleterious effects as harm to living resources, hazards to human health, hinderance to marine activities, including fishing, impairment of quality for use of sea water and reduction of amenities. ” Fortunately, Earth is forgiving and damage from water pollution is often reversible.
Photo: Pollution means adding substances to the environment that don’t belong there—like the air pollution from this smokestack. Pollution is not always as obvious as this, however. Photo courtesy of US Department of Energy/National Renewable Energy Laboratory (US DOE/NREL). What are the main types of water pollution? When we think of Earth’s water resources, we think of huge oceans, lakes, and rivers. Water resources like these are called surface waters. The most obvious type of water pollution affects surface waters.
For example, a spill from an oil tanker creates an oil slick that can affect a vast area of the ocean. Not all of Earth’s water sits on its surface, however. A great deal of water is held in underground rock structures known as aquifers, which we cannot see and seldom think about. Water stored underground in aquifers is known as groundwater. Aquifers feed our rivers and supply much of our drinking water. They too can become polluted, for example, when weed killers used in people’s gardens drain into the ground. Groundwater pollution is much less obvious than surface-water pollution, but is no less of a problem.
In 1996, a study in Iowa in the United States found that over half the state’s groundwater wells were contaminated with weed killers. Surface waters and groundwater are the two types of water resources that pollution affects. There are also two different ways in which pollution can occur. If pollution comes from a single location, such as a discharge pipe attached to a factory, it is known as point-source pollution. Other examples of point source pollution include an oil spill from a tanker, a discharge from a smoke stack (factory chimney), or someone pouring oil from their car down a drain.
A great deal of water pollution happens not from one single source but from many different scattered sources. This is called nonpoint-source pollution. Photo: Above: Point-source pollution comes from a single, well-defined place such as this pipe. Below: Nonpoint-source pollution comes from many sources. All the industrial plants alongside a river and the ships that service them may be polluting the river collectively. Both photos courtesy of US Fish ; Wildlife Service Photo Library. When point-source pollution enters the environment, the place most affected is usually the area immediately around the source.
For example, when a tanker accident occurs, the oil slick is concentrated around the tanker itself and, in the right ocean conditions, the pollution disperses the further away from the tanker you go. This is less likely to happen with nonpoint source pollution which, by definition, enters the environment from many different places at once. Sometimes pollution that enters the environment in one place has an effect hundreds or even thousands of miles away. This is known as transboundary pollution.
One example is the way radioactive waste travels through the oceans from nuclear reprocessing plants in England and France to nearby countries such as Ireland and Norway. How do we know when water is polluted? Some forms of water pollution are very obvious: everyone has seen TV news footage of oil slicks filmed from helicopters flying overhead. Water pollution is usually less obvious and much harder to detect than this. But how can we measure water pollution when we cannot see it? How do we even know it’s there? There are two main ways of measuring the quality of water.
One is to take samples of the water and measure the concentrations of different chemicals that it contains. If the chemicals are dangerous or the concentrations are too great, we can regard the water as polluted. Measurements like this are known aschemical indicators of water quality. Another way to measure water quality involves examining the fish, insects, and other invertebrates that the water will support. If many different types of creatures can live in a river, the quality is likely to be very good; if the river supports no fish life at all, the quality is obviously much poorer.
Measurements like this are called biological indicators of water quality. What are the causes of water pollution? Most water pollution doesn’t begin in the water itself. Take the oceans: around 80 percent of ocean pollution enters our seas from the land. Virtually any human activity can have an effect on the quality of our water environment. When farmers fertilise the fields, the chemicals they use are gradually washed by rain into the groundwater or surface waters nearby. Sometimes the causes of water pollution are quite surprising.
Chemicals released by smokestacks (chimneys) can enter the atmosphere and then fall back to earth as rain, entering seas, rivers, and lakes and causing water pollution. Water pollution has many different causes and this is one of the reasons why it is such a difficult problem to solve. Sewage With billions of people on the planet, disposing of sewage waste is a major problem. In developing countries, many people still lack clean water and basic sanitation (hygienic toilet facilities). Sewage disposal affects people’s immediate environments and leads to water-related illnesses such as diarrhoea that kills 3-4 million children each year. According to the World Health Organization, water-related diseases could kill 135 million people by 2020. ) In developed countries, most people have flush toilets that take sewage waste quickly and hygienically away from their homes. Yet the problem of sewage disposal does not end there. When you flush the toilet, the waste has to go somewhere and, even after it leaves the sewage treatment works, there is still waste to dispose of. Sometimes sewage waste is pumped untreated into the sea. Until the early 1990s, around 5 million tons of sewage was dumped by barge from New York City each year.
The population of Britain produces around 300 million gallons of sewage every day, some of it still pumped untreated into the sea through long pipes. The New River that crosses the border from Mexico into California carries with it 20-25 million gallons (76-95 million litres) of raw sewage each day. In theory, sewage is a completely natural substance that should be broken down harmlessly in the environment: 90 percent of sewage is water. In practice, sewage contains all kinds of other chemicals, from the pharmaceutical drugs people take to the paper, plastic, and other wastes they flush down their toilets.
When people are sick with viruses, the sewage they produce carries those viruses into the environment. It is possible to catch illnesses such as hepatitis, typhoid, and cholera from river and sea water. Nutrients Suitably treated and used in moderate quantities, sewage can be a fertilizer: it returns important nutrients to the environment, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which plants and animals need for growth. The trouble is, sewage is often released in much greater quantities than the natural environment can cope with.
Chemical fertilizers used by farmers also add nutrients to the soil, which drain into rivers and seas and add to the fertilizing effect of the sewage. Together, sewage and fertilizers can cause a massive increase in the growth of algae or plankton that overwhelms huge areas of oceans, lakes, or rivers. This is known as a harmful algal bloom (also known as an HAB or red tide, because it can turn the water red). It is harmful because it removes oxygen from the water that kills other forms of life, leading to what is known as a dead zone. The Gulf of Mexico has one of the world’s most spectacular dead zones.
Each summer, it grows to an area of around 7000 square miles (18,000 square kilometres), which is about the same size as the state of New Jersey. Photo: During crop-spraying, some chemicals will drain into the soil. Eventually, they seep into rivers and other watercourses. Photo courtesy of US Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (ARS). Waste water A few statistics illustrate the scale of the problem that waste water (chemicals washed down drains and discharged from factories) can cause. Around half of all ocean pollution is caused by sewage and waste water.
Each year, the world generates 400 billion tons of industrial waste, much of which is pumped untreated into rivers, oceans, and other waterways. In the United States alone, around 400,000 factories take clean water from rivers, and many pump polluted waters back in their place. However, there have been major improvements in waste water treatment recently. For example, in the United States over the last 30 years, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has spent $70 billion improving treatment plants that now serve about 85 percent of the US population.
Factories are point sources of water pollution, but quite a lot of water is polluted by ordinary people from nonpoint sources; this is how ordinary water becomes waste water in the first place. Virtually everyone pours chemicals of one sort or another down their drains or toilets. Even detergents used in washing machines and dishwashers eventually end up in our rivers and oceans. So do the pesticides we use on our gardens. A lot of toxic pollution also enters waste water from highway runoff.
Highways are typically covered with a cocktail of toxic chemicals—everything from spilled fuel and brake fluids to bits of worn tires (themselves made from chemical additives) and exhaust emissions. When it rains, these chemicals wash into drains and rivers. It is not unusual for heavy summer rainstorms to wash toxic chemicals into rivers in such concentrations that they kill large numbers of fish overnight. It has been estimated that, in one year, the highway runoff from a single large city leaks as much oil into our water environment as a typical tanker spill.
Some highway runoff runs away into drains; others can pollute groundwater or accumulate in the land next to a road, making it increasingly toxic as the years go by. Chemical waste Detergents are relatively mild substances. At the opposite end of the spectrum are highly toxic chemicals such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). They were once widely used to manufacture electronic circuit boards, but their harmful effects have now been recognized and their use is highly restricted in many countries. Nevertheless, an estimated half million tons of PCBs were discharged into the environment during the 20th century.
In a classic example of transboundary pollution, traces of PCBs have even been found in birds and fish in the Arctic. They were carried there through the oceans, thousands of miles from where they originally entered the environment. Although PCBs are widely banned, their effects will be felt for many decades because they last a long time in the environment without breaking down. Another kind of toxic pollution comes from heavy metals, such as lead, cadmium, and mercury. Lead was once commonly used in gasoline (petrol), though its use is now restricted in some countries.
Mercury and cadmium are still used in batteries (though some brands now use other metals instead). Until recently, a highly toxic chemical called tributyltin (TBT) was used in paints to protect boats from the ravaging effects of the oceans. Ironically, however, TBT was gradually recognized as a pollutant: boats painted with it were doing as much damage to the oceans as the oceans were doing to the boats. The best known example of heavy metal pollution in the oceans took place in 1938 when a Japanese factory discharged a significant amount of mercury metal into Minamata Bay, contaminating the fish stocks there.
It took a decade for the problem to come to light. By that time, many local people had eaten the fish and around 2000 were poisoned. Hundreds of people were left dead or disabled. Radioactive waste People view radioactive waste with great alarm—and for good reason. At high enough concentrations it can kill; in lower concentrations it can cause cancers and other illnesses. The biggest sources of radioactive pollution in Europe are two factories that reprocess waste fuel from nuclear power plants: Sellafield on the north-west coast of Britain and Cap La Hague on the north coast of France.
Both discharge radioactive waste water into the sea, which ocean currents then carry around the world. Countries such as Norway, which lie downstream from Britain, receive significant doses of radioactive pollution from Sellafield. The Norwegian government has repeatedly complained that Sellafield has increased radiation levels along its coast by 6-10 times. Both the Irish and Norwegian governments continue to press for the plant’s closure. Oil pollution When we think of ocean pollution, huge black oil slicks often spring to mind, yet these spectacular accidents represent only a tiny fraction of all the pollution entering our oceans.
Even considering oil by itself, tanker spills are not as significant as they might seem: only 12% of the oil that enters the oceans comes from tanker accidents; over 70% of oil pollution at sea comes from routine shipping and from the oil people pour down drains on land. However, what makes tanker spills so destructive is the sheer quantity of oil they release at once — in other words, the concentration of oil they produce in one very localized part of the marine environment. The biggest oil spill in recent years (and the biggest ever spill in US waters) occurred when the tanker Exxon Valdez broke up in Prince William Sound in Alaska in 1989.
Around 12 million gallons (44 million litres) of oil were released into the pristine wilderness—enough to fill your living room 800 times over! Estimates of the marine animals killed in the spill vary from approximately 1000 sea otters and 34,000 birds to as many as 2800 sea otters and 250,000 sea birds. Several billion salmon and herring eggs are also believed to have been destroyed. Photo: Oil-tanker spills are the most spectacular forms of pollution and the ones that catch public attention, but only a fraction of all water pollution happens this way. Photo courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service Photo Library.
Plastics If you’ve ever taken part in a community beach clean, you’ll know that plastic is far and away the most common substance that washes up with the waves. There are three reasons for this: plastic is one of the most common materials, used for making virtually every kind of manufactured object from clothing to automobile parts; plastic is light and floats easily so it can travel enormous distances across the oceans; most plastics are not biodegradable (they do not break down naturally in the environment), which means that things like plastic bottle tops can survive in the marine environment for a long time. A plastic bottle can survive an estimated 450 years in the ocean and plastic fishing line can last up to 600 years. ) While plastics are not toxic in quite the same way as poisonous chemicals, they nevertheless present a major hazard to seabirds, fish, and other marine creatures. For example, plastic fishing lines and other debris can strangle or choke fish. (This is sometimes called ghost fishing. ) One scientific study in the 1980s estimated that a quarter of all seabirds contain some sort of plastic residue. In another study about a decade later, a scientist collected debris from a 1. mile length of beach in the remote Pitcairn islands in the South Pacific. His study recorded approximately a thousand pieces of garbage including 268 pieces of plastic, 71 plastic bottles, and two dolls heads. Alien species Most people’s idea of water pollution involves things like sewage, toxic metals, or oil slicks, but pollution can be biological as well as chemical. In some parts of the world, alien species are a major problem. Alien species (sometimes known as invasive species) are animals or plants from one region that have been introduced into a different ecosystem where they do not belong.
Outside their normal environment, they have no natural predators, so they rapidly run wild, crowding out the usual animals or plants that thrive there. Common examples of alien species include zebra mussels in the Great Lakes of the USA, which were carried there from Europe by ballast water (waste water flushed from ships). The Mediterranean Sea has been invaded by a kind of alien algae called Caulerpa taxifolia. In the Black Sea, an alien jellyfish called Mnemiopsis leidyi reduced fish stocks by 90% after arriving in ballast water.
In San Francisco Bay, Asian clams called Potamocorbula amurensis,also introduced by ballast water, have dramatically altered the ecosystem. In 1999, Cornell University’s David Pimentel estimated that alien invaders like this cost the US economy $123 billion a year. Photo: Invasive species: Above: Water hyacinth crowding out a waterway around an old fence post. Photo by Steve Hillebrand. Below: Non-native zebra mussels clumped on a native mussel. Both photos courtesy of US Fish & Wildlife Service Photo Library. Other forms of pollution
These are the most common forms of pollution—but by no means the only ones. Heat or thermal pollution from factories and power plants also causes problems in rivers. By raising the temperature, it reduces the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water, thus also reducing the level of aquatic life that the river can support. Another type of pollution involves the disruption of sediments (fine-grained powders) that flow from rivers into the sea. Dams built for hydroelectric power or water reservoirs can reduce the sediment flow.
This reduces the formation of beaches, increases coastal erosion (the natural destruction of cliffs by the sea), and reduces the flow of nutrients from rivers into seas (potentially reducing coastal fish stocks). Increased sediments can also present a problem. During construction work, soil, rock, and other fine powders sometimes enters nearby rivers in large quantities, causing it to become turbid (muddy or silted). The extra sediment can block the gills of fish, effectively suffocating them. Construction firms often now take precations to prevent this kind of pollution from happening.
What are the effects of water pollution? Some people believe pollution is an inescapable result of human activity: they argue that if we want to have factories, cities, ships, cars, oil, and coastal resorts, some degree of pollution is almost certain to result. In other words, pollution is a necessary evil that people must put up with if they want to make progress. Fortunately, not everyone agrees with this view. One reason people have woken up to the problem of pollution is that it brings costs of its own that undermine any economic benefits that come about by polluting.
Take oil spills, for example. They can happen if tankers are too poorly built to survive accidents at sea. But the economic benefit of compromising on tanker quality brings an economic cost when an oil spill occurs. The oil can wash up on nearby beaches, devastate the ecosystem, and severely affect tourism. The main problem is that the people who bear the cost of the spill (typically a small coastal community) are not the people who caused the problem in the first place (the people who operate the tanker).
Yet, arguably, everyone who puts gasoline (petrol) into their car—or uses almost any kind of petroleum-fueled transport—contributes to the problem in some way. So oil spills are a problem for everyone, not just people who live by the coast and tanker operates. Sewage is another good example of how pollution can affect us all. Sewage discharged into coastal waters can wash up on beaches and cause a health hazard. People who bathe or surf in the water can fall ill if they swallow polluted water—yet sewage can have other harmful effects too: it can poison shellfish (such as cockles and mussels) that grow near the shore.
People who eat poisoned shellfish risk suffering from an acute—and sometimes fatal—illness called paralytic shellfish poisoning. Shellfish is no longer caught along many shores because it is simply too polluted with sewage or toxic chemical wastes that have discharged from the land nearby. Pollution matters because it harms the environment on which people depend. The environment is not something distant and separate from our lives. It’s not a pretty shoreline hundreds of miles from our homes or a wilderness landscape that we see only on TV.
The environment is everything that surrounds us that gives us life and health. Destroying the environment ultimately reduces the quality of our own lives—and that, most selfishly, is why pollution should matter to all of us. How can we stop water pollution? There is no easy way to solve water pollution; if there were, it wouldn’t be so much of a problem. Broadly speaking, there are three different things that can help to tackle the problem—education, laws, and economics—and they work together as a team. Education Making people aware of the problem is the first step to solving it.
In the early 1990s, when surfers in Britain grew tired of catching illnesses from water polluted with sewage, they formed a group calledSurfers Against Sewage to force governments and water companies to clean up their act. People who’ve grown tired of walking the world’s polluted beaches often band together to organize community beach-cleaning sessions. Anglers who no longer catch so many fish have campaigned for tougher penalties against factories that pour pollution into our rivers. Greater public awareness can make a positive difference. Laws
One of the biggest problems with water pollution is its transboundary nature. Many rivers cross countries, while seas span whole continents. Pollution discharged by factories in one country with poor environmental standards can cause problems in neighbouring nations, even when they have tougher laws and higher standards. Environmental laws can make it tougher for people to pollute, but to be really effective they have to operate across national and international borders. This is why we have international laws governing the oceans, such as the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea(signed by over 20 nations), the 1972 London (Dumping) Convention, the 1978 MARPOL International Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, and the 1998 OSPAR Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic. The European Union has water-protection laws (known as directives) that apply to all of its member states. They include the 1976Bathing Water Directive (updated 2006), which seeks to ensure the quality of the waters that people use for recreation. Most countries also have their own water pollution laws.
In the United States, for example, there is the 1972 Clean Water Act and the 1974 Safe Drinking Water Act. Economics Most environmental experts agree that the best way to tackle pollution is through something called the polluter pays principle. This means that whoever causes pollution should have to pay to clean it up, one way or another. Polluter pays can operate in all kinds of ways. It could mean that tanker owners should have to take out insurance that covers the cost of oil spill cleanups, for example.
It could also mean that shoppers should have to pay for their plastic grocery bags, as is now common in Ireland, to encourage recycling and minimize waste. Or it could mean that factories that use rivers must have their water inlet pipes downstream of their effluent outflow pipes, so if they cause pollution they themselves are the first people to suffer. Ultimately, the polluter pays principle is designed to deter people from polluting by making it less expensive for them to behave in an environmentally responsible way. Our clean future
Life is ultimately about choices—and so is pollution. We can live with sewage-strewn beaches, dead rivers, and fish that are too poisonous to eat. Or we can work together to keep the environment clean so the plants, animals, and people who depend on it remain healthy. We can take individual action to help reduce water pollution, for example, by using environmentally friendly detergents, not pouring oil down drains, reducing pesticides, and so on. We can take community action too, by helping out on beach cleans or litter picks to keep our rivers and seas that little bit cleaner.
And we can take action as countries and continents to pass laws that will make pollution harder and the world less polluted. Working together, we can make pollution less of a problem—and the world a better place. How To Stop Water Pollution? May. 16, 2009 in water pollution How to stop water pollution? More than ever before, this question needs answering. Modern technology has given us a heightened awareness of pollution, and some people may be inclined to think that because of the regulations this awareness has prompted, pollution is no longer as much of an issue as it was before.
They would be surprised to learn the truth. One of its most dangerous forms is water contamination, which can affect almost everything else on Earth. In March 2006, researcher Larry West wrote an expose on dangerous drinking water. How to stop water pollution becomes a pressing issue when one reads his research. He postulated that contaminated water is actually the leading cause of death worldwide—that it kills more people than wars, disease, or car accidents combined. The facts about water pollution are chilling, as anyone who reads West’s book can see.
His research indicated that every day, 14,000 people die because of polluted water. West also revealed that despite modern awareness, industrialized countries are among the worst offenders and that no country is considered safe simply because of technological advances. Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just developing nations who struggle with stopping water contamination; about 41. 3% of the USA’s major water sources are officially classified as polluted. Surface water and groundwater are the two main categories in this debate.
Most of the media’s attention on how to stop water pollution has traditionally been given over to surface water, since as its name indicates, it is the most noticeable. Controversy exploded in the 1980s when pictures emerged of hardcore industrial waste being dumped into rivers and streams; during this same period the Exxon-Valdez oil spillbrought further attention to pollution of Earth’s oceans, which are another form of surface water. When corporations dump slime into a lake, people can see it floating there.
But perhaps the most pervasive and insidious form of pollution does not take place on the surface at all. Groundwater accounts for most of the world’s drinking water. Water pollution in Chinahas become a huge concern, since groundwater constitutes about 70% of their drinking water on average, not to mention 40% of the water used for crop irrigation. To put it bluntly, a lot of groundwater ends up in peoples’ bodies one way or another. And in places like China, a healthy economy comes first and healthy drinking water comes second. Amazingly, 90% of China’s cities have heavily contaminated groundwater.
Although the government has tried to downplay this alarming fact by claiming that 63% of it is still suitable for drinking, people who live close to industrial areas suffer constant diarrhea. Sources of water pollution are often extremely dangerous, especially in countries like China that don’t have sufficient regulation. For example many inhabitants of Daciluo Village, just outside of Beijing, have gotten violently sick from their murky greenish water. Daciluo’s wells were drilled from groundwater aquifers just below the surface.
Those aquifers had been badly contaminated by a nearby zinc-plating factory. The Chinese government shut down the zinc-plating plant after the international community got involved, but most companies get away without so much as a slap on the wrist. Even though we may not live in China, everyone has a vested interest in finding out how to stop water pollution from continuing its planet-wide ravages. Every day, our water sources become a little more corrupted, until we too may share the fate of the Daciluo villagers with their monthly cramps and indigestion, not to mention birth defects and disease.
Raw sewage flows into the United States from rivers that run through Mexico. Shell Oil is paying $1 million in damages for severe water pollution in Puerto Rico. Livestock waste and industrial byproducts run into water sources of every kind, among other things causing disease and the closure of thousands of beaches every year. Modern technology has shown us that nightmarish sources of water pollution are everywhere and the time has come to act, because clean drinking water is decreasing worldwide and it is feared population growth may soon cause worldwide drought and potential famine.
We need to shake off our sense of complacency and revise our infrastructure as well as our attitudes, so that the next generation can enjoy water free of pollution. Roles of Local Government in Water Quality Control Overview| Prefectural governments are playing very important roles in environmental water quality management. Their responsibilities include establishing more stringent standards. Cinspection of specified factories, and regulating effluents discharged from factories. They are also responsible for establishing and implementing environmental water quality monitoring programs within their juridifications.
Aside from prefectural governments. city governments in71cities specified in the Water Pollution Control Law as “designated cities” are empowered to inspect and regulate effluent discharges of factories in their respective areas of juridification. Water quality monitoring parameters are given in the following Table. Water quality monitoring is conducted in rivers four times a day throughout the year. Four times a day, i. e. , every six hours, river water samples are taken to determine the daily and seasonal fluctuation of flow rates and water quality.
Seasonal changes in water quality are monitored in lakes since obvious daily changes in lake water quality are seldom observed. Pollution control measures undertaken by prefectural governments include: 1. Regulating factories based on laws and ordinances; 2. Maintaining and constructing additional sewerage lines and sewage treatment systems; 3. Aerating Sagami Lake; 4. Purifying water in waterways; 5. Controlling pollution from new high-tech industries such as the electronic industries.
Table Water quality monitoring parameters Categories| Parameters| Toxic substances| Cd, CN, Pb, Cr (VI), As, Hg (total), Hg (alkyl), PCBs, Trichloroethylene, Tetrachloroethylene, Dichloromethane, Carbon tetrachloride, 1,2-Dichloroethan, 1,1-Dichloroethylene, Cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene, 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, 1,1,2-Trichloroethane, 1,3-Dichloropropene, Thiuram, Simazine, Thiobencarb, Benzene, Selenium and compounds| Parameters for living environment| pH, BOD, CODMn, SS, DO, Number of coliforms, n-Hexane extracts, Total nitrogen, Total phosphorus| Special parameters involved in living environment parameters| Phenols, Copper, Zinc, Dissolved ion, Dissolved manganese, Chromium, Fluorine, Nickel, ENP| Other parameters| Ammoniacal nitrogen, Nitrite, Nitrate, Phosphorus, Chloric ion, Salts, 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, Anionic surfactant, Chlorophyll-a| Physical parameters| Weather, Weather of previous day, Water depth, Sampling depth, Water flow rate, Flow, Atmospheric temperature| | Specific Regulations and System Effluent Pollution Control and Standards Application of Effluent Water Quality Standards and Designation of Specified Facilities Enforcement of Effluent Water Quality Standards Regulation of Total Maximum Daily Loading Promotion of Countermeasures against Domestic Effluents
Water Quality Monitoring for Public Waters Countermeasures Against Groundwater Pollution Roles of Local Government in Water Quality Control Referneces : Effluent Water Quality Standards for the Sewage System REPUBLIC ACT NO. 3931 AN ACT CREATING THE NATIONAL WATER AND AIR POLLUTION CONTROL COMMISSION Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the Philippines in Congress assembled: Section 1 Statement of Policy It is hereby declared a national policy to maintain reasonable standards of purity for the waters and of this country with their utilization for domestic, agricultural, industrial and other legitimate purposes. Section 2 Definitions As used in this Act: a.
Pollution means such alteration of the physical, chemical and/or biological properties of any water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines, or any discharge of any liquid, gaseous or solid substance into any of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the country as will or is likely to create or render such waters and/or atmospheric air harmful or detrimental or injurious to public health, safety or welfare, or to domestic, commercial, industrial, agricultural, recreational or other legitimate uses, or to livestock, wild animals, birds, fish or other aquatic life. b. Sewage means the water-carried human or animal wastes from residences, buildings, industrial establishments, or other places, together with such water infiltration and surface water as may be present. The admixture of sewage as above defined and industrial wastes or other wastes as hereafter defined, shall be considered sewage. c. Industrial waste means any liquid, gaseous or solid matter, or other waste substance or a combination thereof resulting from any process of industry, manufacturing trade or business or from the development, processing or recovery of any natural resources. d.
Other waste means garbage, refuse, wood residues, sand, lime, cinders, ashes, offal, night-oil, tar, dye stuffs, acids, chemicals, and other substances not sewage or industrial waste which may cause or tend to cause pollution or contribute to the pollution of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines. e. Sewage system or sewerage system means pipe lines or conduits, pumping stations, force mains, constructed drainage ditches, and all other construction, devices, and appurtenances used for collecting or conducting sewage, and industrial waste or other wastes to a point of ultimate disposal or discharge. f. Treatment works means any methods, construction, device or appliances appurtenant thereto, installed for the purpose of treating neutralizing, stabilizing, disinfecting, or disposing of sewage, industrial waste or other wastes, or for the recovery of by-product from such sewage, industrial waste or other wastes. g.
Sewage works means individually or collectively those constructions or devices used for collecting pumping, treating, and disposing of sewage, industrial waste or other waste, or for the recovery of by-products from such sewage, industrial waste or other wastes. h. Outlet means the terminus of a sewage works or point of emergence into the waters and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines of any sewage, industrial waste or other wastes. i. Waters of the Philippines means all accumulations of water, surface and underground water, natural or artificial, public or private or parts thereof, which are within the Philippines or within its jurisdiction. j. Atmospheric air of the Philippines means the air within the Philippines or within its jurisdiction. k.
Person or Persons means any individual public or private corporation, political subdivision, government agency, municipality, public or private institution, industry, co-partnership, association, firms, trust, or any other entity whatsoever. l. Stream standards or stream standards means such measure of purity or quality for any waters in the Philippines in relation to their reasonable and necessary use. m. Commission means the National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission. Section 3 Creation of the National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission; Members; Compensation; Advisory Council There is hereby created and established in the Office of the President of the Philippines, the National Water and Air Pollution Control Commission, with permanent office in the City of Manila.
The Commission shall be composed of the Chairman of the National Science Development Board, as chairman, and, as members, four part-time commissioners, one of whom shall be an officer of the Department of Health who shall be designated by the Secretary of Health; another shall be an officer of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources, who shall be designated by the Secretary of Agriculture and Natural Resources; and the remaining two shall be representatives of the private sector who shall be appointed by the President of the Philippines with the consent of the Commission on Appointments, one upon recommendation of the Philippine Council of Science and Technology, and the other upon the recommendation of the Chamber of Industries of the Philippines; and two full-time commissioners who shall likewise be appointed by the President of the Philippines, with the consent of the Commission on Appointments. One of the full-time commissioners shall be a sanitary engineer; and the other a lawyer. Both shall be least thirty-five years of age and shall each have had at least ten years experience in the practice of his profession.
The two part-time commissioners representing the private sector and the two full-time commissioners shall serve for four years and until their successors shall have been appointed and qualified. They may not be removed except for cause. Upon the death, resignation or removal of any of them, the President shall appoint a qualified person to fill the vacancy for his unexpired term. The chairman and members of the commission, except the full-time commissioners, shall receive no compensation for their services, but they shall receiveper diems of fifty pesos each per meeting plus the necessary traveling expenses incurred in the discharge of their duties as members of the Commission.
The two full-time members shall each receive a yearly compensation of eighteen thousand pesos. They shall also receive traveling expenses incurred in the discharge of their duties as commissioners. Section 4 Organization of the Commission: Its Officers; Cooperation with Other Agencies; Acceptance of Donations The President of the Philippines shall organize the Commission within thirty days after the approval of this Act. Appointment and qualifications of technical secretary. The Technical Secretary of the Commission shall be appointed by the Commission. He shall be a sanitary engineer with at least five years experience in the technical and administrative field of engineering.
He shall be the active administrator of all water and air pollution control activities of the Commission. The Technical Secretary shall, during the interim between meetings of the Commission, handle such correspondence, make or arrange for such inspections and investigations, and obtain, assemble or prepare such reports and data as the Commission may direct or authorize. His compensation shall be determined by the Commission. Contract for services of personnel from other government agencies. The Commission shall provide such technical scientific or other services, including the necessary laboratory and other facilities as may be required for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this Act.
The basic personnel necessary to carry out the provisions of this Act shall be engineers, chemists, bio-chemists, physicists, and other technicians: Provided, That the Commission may, by agreement, secure such services at it may deem necessary from other agencies of the National Government, and may make arrangements for the compensation of such services. The Commission may also employ and compensate, within appropriations available therefor, such consultants, experts, advisors, or assistants on a full or part-time basis as may be necessary, coming from government or private business entities, associations, or from local or foreign organizations, to carry out the provisions of this Act and may prescribe their powers, duties, and responsibilities.
The Commission may conduct scientific experiments, investigations and research to discover economical and practical methods of preventing water and air pollution. To this end, the Commission may cooperate with any public or private agency in the conduct of such experiments, investigations and research and may accept, and receipt for sums of money for and in behalf of the National Government, given by any international, national or other public or private agency for water and air pollution control activities, surveys or programmes: Provided, That sums of money shall be used only for the purpose for which they are contributed and any balance remaining after the conclusion of experiments, investigations and research shall be returned to the contributors.
The Commission is authorized to promulgate such rules and regulations or enter into contracts as it may deem necessary for carrying out the provisions if this Act. Section 5 Meeting of the Commission, Quorum The Commission shall meet as often as necessary to carry into effect the provisions of this Act and at times and places to be designated by the Chairman of the Commission, and shall keep a complete record of the meetings which shall be kept on file in the office of the Technical Secretary, and shall determine the rules of its own proceedings. Meetings may be called by the chairman upon his own initiative or upon the written request of two or more members of the Commission.
Written notice of the time and place of such meetings shall be delivered to the office of each member of the Commission and the Technical Secretary. Four members of the Commission shall constitute a quorum to transact the business of the Commission: Provided, however, That the concurrence of the majority of all the members of the Commission shall be necessary to exercise the powers and duties enumerated in Section six of this Act and to render any order, judgment or decision in the proceedings referred to in section seven and eight hereof. Section 6 Powers and Duties a. The Commission is hereby authorized to: 1. Determine if pollution exists in any of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines.
Findings of the Commission regarding the existence of pollution shall be filed on record in the office of the Commission. 2. Adopt, prescribe, and promulgate rules and regulations governing the procedures of the Commission with respect to hearings; the methods and manner under which plans, specifications, designs, or other data relative thereto shall be submitted for sewage works and industrial wastes disposal systems or for addition or change to or extensions of such works; the filing of reports; the issuance of permits; and such other reasonable rules and regulations as may be necessary from time to time in the proper implementation and enforcement of this Act. 3.
Hold public hearings, receive pertinent and relevant proofs from any party in interest who appear before the Commission, make findings of facts and determinations, all with respect to the violations of this Act or orders issued by the Commission. 4. Make, alter or modify orders requiring the discontinuance of pollution of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines due to the discharge of sewage, industrial wastes or other wastes and specifying the conditions and the time within which such discontinuance must be accomplished. 5. Institute or cause to be instituted in a court of competent jurisdiction legal proceedings to compel compliance with the provisions of this Act. 6.
Issue, renew, or deny permits, under such conditions as it may determine to be reasonable, for the prevention and abatement of pollution, for the discharge of sewage, industrial wastes or other wastes, or for the installation or operation of sewage works and industrial disposal systems or parts thereof, except that no permits shall be required of any new sewage, works or changes to or extensions of existing works that discharge only domestic or sanitary wastes from a single residential building housing or occupied by twenty persons or less: Provided, however, That applications for the issuance or renewal of permits required under this Act shall be filed with and decided by the city engineer or district engineer of the city or province from which the discharge of industrial or other wastes shall originate, in accordance with rules, regulations and standards to be issued by the Commission. In case of doubt, the city or district engineer shall consult with Commission before issuing, renewing, or denying the permit applied for; and any decision of the city or district engineer may be appealed by the applicant or by any resident of the place who may be affected by the discharge of waste to the Commission. under such rules and regulations as the Commission shall issue for such appeals. 7. After due notice and hearing, revoke, suspend or modify any permit issued under this Act, whenever modifications are necessary to prevent or abate pollution of any water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines. 8.
Cause such investigation to be made as it may deem advisable and necessary for the discharge of its duties under this Act. 9. Settle or compromise any dispute arising out of the implementation and enforcement of the second paragraph of Section ten of this Act as it may seem advantageous to the public interest. 10. Perform such other duties as may be necessary to carry out effectively the duties and responsibilities prescribed in this Act. b. The Commission shall have the following duties and responsibilities: 1. To encourage voluntary cooperation by the people, municipalities, industries, associations, agriculture and representatives of other pursuits in the proper utilization and conservation of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines. 2.
To encourage the formation and organization of cooperative groups or associations in municipalities, industries, enterprises and other users of the waters who severally and jointly are or may be the source of pollution of the same waters, the purpose of which shall be to provide a medium to discuss and formulate plans for the prevention and abatement of pollution. 3. To serve as arbitrator for the determination of reparations involved in the damages and losses resulting from the pollution of the waters and/or air of the Philippines. 4. To devise, consult, participate, cooperate and enter into agreements with other agencies of the government, and with affected political groups, political subdivisions, and enterprises in the furtherance of the purpose of this Act. This particularly refers to such cooperative agreements with the various provincial and municipal governments in securing their assistance in carrying out the provisions of this Act. 5.
To prepare and develop a comprehensive plan for the abatement of existing pollution and prevention of new and/or imminent pollution of the waters and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines. 6. To issue standards, rules and regulations to govern city and district engineers in the approval of plans and specifications for sewage works and industrial wastes disposal systems and in the issuance of permits in accordance with the provisions of this Act, and to inspect the construction and maintenance of sewage works and industrial waste disposal system for compliance of the approved plans. 7. To collect and disseminate information relating to water and atmosphere pollution and the prevention, abatement and control thereof. 8.
To authorize its representative to enter at all reasonable times in or upon any property of public domain and private property devoted to industrial, manufacturing, processing or commercial use without doing damages, for the purpose of inspecting and investigating conditions relating to pollution or the possible or imminent pollution of any waters or atmospheric air of the Philippines. Section 7 Public Hearings Public hearings shall be conducted by the Commission in connection with and prior to action by the said Commission on the following cases: a. Any order or findings of the Commission requiring the discontinuance of discharge of sewage, industrial wastes or other wastes into the waters or atmospheric air of the Philippines as provided for in this Act. b. Any order denying, revoking or modifying a permit as provided by this Act.
The hearing herein provided may be conducted by the Commission itself at a meeting of the Commission, or the Commission may delegate to any member, or to the Technical Secretary the power and authority to conduct such hearings in the name of the Commission at any time and place. In such hearings, any member of the Commission, or the Technical Secretary may issue in the name of the Commission, notices of hearings requesting the attendance and testimony of witnesses and the production of evidence relevant to any matter involved in any such hearing, and may examine such witnesses. All stenographic transcript of the proceedings of said hearings shall be taken and filed with the Commission. Section 8 Proceedings Before the Commission
The Commission may, on its own motion, or upon the request of any person, investigate or may inquire, in a manner to be determined by it, as to any alleged act of pollution or the omission or failure to comply with any provisions of this Act or any order of this Commission. Pro parte hearing after preliminary investigation. Whenever it appears to the Commission, after investigation, that there has been a violation of any of the provisions of this Act or any order of the Commission, it may order whoever causes such violation to show cause before said Commission why such discharge of industrial wastes or any waste should not be discontinued. A notice shall be serve on the offending party directing him or it to show cause before the Commission, on a date specified in such notice, why an order should not be made directing the discontinuance of such violation.
Such notice shall specify the time and the place where a public hearing will be held by the Commission or its authorized representatives, and notice of such hearing shall be served personally or by registered mail, at least ten days before said hearing: and in the case of municipality or corporation such notice shall be served upon the mayor or president thereof. The Commission shall take evidence with reference to said matter and may issue an order to the party responsible for such violation, directing that within a specified period of time thereafter, such violation be discontinued unless adequate sewage works or industrial wastes disposal system be properly operated to prevent further damage or pollution.
No investigation being conducted or ruling made by the Commission shall prejudice any action which may be filed in court by any person in accordance with the provisions of the New Civil Code on nuisance. On matters, however, not related to nuisance, no court action shall be initiated until the Commission shall have finally ruled thereon and no order of the Commission discontinuing the discharge of waste shall be stayed by the filing of said court action, unless the court issues an injunction as provided for in the Rules of Court. Section 9 Prohibitions No person shall throw, run, drain, or otherwise dispose into any of the water and/or atmospheric air of the Philippines, or cause, permit, suffer to be hrown, run, drain, allow to see or otherwise dispose into such waters or atmospheric air, any organic matter or inorganic matter or any substance in gaseous or liquid form that shall cause pollution of such waters or atmospheric air. No person shall perform any of the following activities without first securing a permit from the city or district engineer for the discharge of all industrial wastes and other wastes which are or may be discharged into the waters or atmospheric air of the Philippines, which could cause pollution thereof: 1. the construction, installation, modification or operation of any sewage works or any extension or addition thereto; 2. he increase in volume or strength of any wastes in excess of the permissive discharge specified under any existing permit; 3. the construction, installation, or operation of any industrial or commercial establishments or any extension or modification thereof or addition thereto, the operation of which would cause an increase in the discharge of wastes directly into the waters or atmospheric air of the Philippines or would otherwise alter the physical, chemical or biological properties of any waters or atmospheric air of the Philippines in any manner not already lawfully authorized; 4. the construction or use of any new outlet for the discharge of any waste, gaseous or liquid, directly into the waters or atmospheric air to the Philippines. Section 10 Penalties
Any person who shall violate any of the provisions of Section nine of this Act or who violates any order of the Commission, shall be liable to a penalty of not to exceed fifty pesos for each day during which the violation continues, or by imprisonment of from two years to six years, or by both fine and imprisonment and in addition such person may be required or enjoined from continuing such violation as hereinafter provided. Any person who violates any of the provisions of, or fails to perform any duty imposed by this Act, or who violates an order or other determination of the Commission promulgated pursuant to this Act, thereby causing the death of ish or other aquatic life, or damages or destroys the natural habitat necessary for the propagation of fish or other aquatic life, shall in addition to the penalty above prescribed, be liable to pay the government for damages for fish or other aquatic life destroyed. The Commission after consultation with fishery officials of the Department of Agriculture and Natural Resources shall, through a court of competent jurisdiction, bring an action against such person and recover the reasonable value of the fish or other aquatic life and/or habitat destroyed by such pollution. Any amount so recovered shall be placed in the funds made available to the Fisheries Commission. Section 11 Jurisdiction
The Commission shall have no jurisdiction over waterworks or sewage systems operated by the NAWASA but rules and regulations issued by the Commission for the protection and prevention of pollution of the atmospheric air and water of the Philippines under the authority herein granted shall supersede and prevail over any rules or regulations as may heretofore have been issued by the NAWASA or by the Department of Health on the same subject matter. Section 12 Appropriation The sum of one million five hundred thousand pesos or so much thereof as may be necessary is hereby authorized to be appropriated yearly for the operating expenses of the Commission as additional appropriation to the yearly budget of the Office of the President of the Philippines. Section 13 Repealing Clause Any Act or parts of Acts inconsistent with the provisions of this Act are hereby repealed, without prejudice to the provisions of Republic Act Numbered Thirteen hundred seventy-eight. Section 14 Effectivity This Act shall take effect upon its approval. Approved: June 18, 1964