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Chapter 21: Water Pollution. Sustainably Managing a Renewable Resource. FIGURE CO: Water pollution in rich and poor countries of the world affects our health and economy. © Rubberball/Alamy Images. Point and Nonpoint Sources.

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chapter 21 water pollution
Chapter 21:

Water Pollution

Sustainably Managing a Renewable Resource

figure co water pollution in rich and poor countries of the world affects our health and economy
FIGURE CO: Water pollution in rich and poor countries of the world affects our health and economy

© Rubberball/Alamy Images

point and nonpoint sources
Point and Nonpoint Sources
  • Point sources, such as factories, and from Nonpoint sources, such as farm fields and streets.

Courtesy of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Great Lakes National Program

infectious agents
Infectious Agents

FIGURE 7: Cryptosporidium, an infectious waterborne protist that can cause diarrhea in humans


Fecal coliform bacteria

© A. B. Dowsett/Photo Researchers, Inc.

toxic organic water pollutants
Toxic Organic Water Pollutants
  • Organics

Sources: factories, homes, farms, lawns, and gardens.

  • Inorganic (acids and heavy metals, such as lead and mercury)

Sources: Industry

other types of pollution sediment
Other Types of Pollution: Sediment
  • Sediment washed from the land has profound effects on the chemical and physical nature of ecosystems.
  • Such changes have large impacts on aquatic organisms and humans who depend on them.
21 2 groundwater pollution
21.2 Groundwater Pollution
  • May be heavily contaminated in numerous industrialized nations by:
    • industrial waste pits
    • septic tanks
    • oil wells
    • Landfills
    • agricultural chemicals, notably pesticides and fertilizer.
effects of groundwater pollution
Effects of Groundwater Pollution
  • Thousands of chemicals may be found in a nation’s groundwater.
  • Many of them are potentially harmful to human health, causing problems for:
    • unborn children:
      • miscarriage
      • birth defects
      • premature infant death
    • adults:
      • rashes
      • neurological problems
cleaning up groundwater
Cleaning Up Groundwater
  • Groundwater moves slowly and takes many years to cleanse itself.
  • Preventing groundwater pollution is essential to creating a sustainable water supply.
  • Equally important are efforts to clean up groundwater supplies already contaminated by potentially toxic chemicals.
21 3 ocean pollution
21.3 Ocean Pollution
  • The oceans are polluted by:
    • chemicals spilled

into them directly

    • pollutants washed

from the lands and

transported to

them by rivers


An oil-covered duck

Courtesy of John S. Lough/Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council

figure 12 oil spills from 1970 to 2006
FIGURE 12: Oil spills from 1970 to 2006

Data courtesy of International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation Ltd., ITOPF

plastic pollution
Plastic Pollution
  • Millions of tons of plastic are dumped into the ocean each year, killing hundreds of thousands of marine

mammals, fish,

and birds.


A young hawksbill sea turtle is caught in a plastic fishing net

© Jeff Rotman/Alamy Images

plastic pollution18
Plastic Pollution
  • Many steps have been taken to reduce the disposal of plastic into the ocean, but huge amounts are still being disposed of each year.


Trash on Imperial Beach, California

© T. O’Keefe/PhotoLink/Photodisc/Getty Images

medical wastes and sewage sludge
Medical Wastes and Sewage Sludge
  • Millions of gallons of sewage enter the sea each year from coastal sewage treatment plants.

FIGURE 15: Sewage treatment plant

© Graham Prentice/

figure s01 1 algal blooms in the great lakes
FIGURE S01_1: Algal blooms in the Great Lakes

© John Sohlden/Visuals Unlimited

21 4 water pollution control
21.4 Water Pollution Control
  • Reducing water pollution requires efforts on two levels:
    • those that capture wastes emitted from various sources (the so-called end-of-pipe solutions)
    • those that prevent waste production and pollution
legislative controls
Legislative Controls
  • Legislation to address water pollution has focused on point sources—primarily factories and sewage treatment plants.
  • Gains made in controlling such sources have often been offset by increasing levels of pollution from nonpoint sources such as:
    • city streets
    • lawns
    • farm fields
controlling nonpoint pollution
Controlling Nonpoint Pollution
  • In the United States, efforts to control nonpoint water pollution are still in their infancy.
  • They are gaining popularity because they are often economical solutions that offer other benefits as well.
  • The United States has focused more on groundwater pollution than nonpoint water pollution because groundwater is an important source of drinking water.
sustainable solutions for water pollution
Sustainable Solutions for Water Pollution
  • Measures that will collectively serve to reduce our production of water pollutants include:
    • reducing consumption
    • recycling materials
    • reducing industrial waste and municipal sewage
    • using renewable resources
    • stabilizing population growth