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Water Pollution. Chapter 20. Water pollution causes illness and death in humans and other species and disrupts ecosystems. The chief sources of water pollution are: agricultural activities industrial facilities mining but growth in population and resource use make it increasingly worse. .

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Water Pollution

Chapter 20


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What Are the Causes and Effects of Water Pollution?


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  • Water pollution species and disrupts ecosystems. - any chemical, biological, or physical change in water quality that has a harmful effect on living organisms or makes it unsuitable for desired uses.

  • Variety of tests to determine water quality:

  • Coliform bacteria: Escherichia coli

  • Level of dissolved oxygen (DO)& BOD (biological oxygen demand)

  • Chemical analysis

  • Indicator Species

  • Turbidity

What is Water Pollution?


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  • Point sources species and disrupts ecosystems.

    • Located at specific places

    • Easy to identify, monitor, and regulate

    • Examples – factories, oil tankers, sewage treatment plants, active or abandoned mines

  • Nonpoint sources

    • Broad, diffuse areas

    • Difficult to identify and control

    • Expensive to clean up

    • Examples – runoff from croplands,

      golf courses, parking lots, urban

      streets, lawns, logged forests, etc.

Water Pollution Comes from Point and Nonpoint Sources


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Major Water Pollutants & Their Sources species and disrupts ecosystems.

Major Water Pollutants and Their Sources



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  • While streams are extensively polluted worldwide by human activities, they can cleanse themselves of many pollutants if we do not overload them or reduce their flows.

  • Addition of excessive nutrients to lakes from human activities can disrupt lake ecosystems, and prevention of such pollution is more effective and less costly than cleaning it up.

What Are the Major Water Pollution Problems in Streams and Lakes?


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  • Dilution activities, they can cleanse themselves of many pollutants if we do not overload them or reduce their flows.

  • Biodegradation of wastes by bacteria takes time

  • Oxygen sag curve

Streams Can Cleanse Themselves If We Do Not Overload Them


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  • 1970s: Water pollution control laws activities, they can cleanse themselves of many pollutants if we do not overload them or reduce their flows.

  • Successful water clean-up stories

    • Ohio Cuyahoga River, U.S.

    • Thames River, Great Britain

  • Contamination of toxic inorganic and organic chemicals by industries and mines

Stream Pollution in Developed Countries


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Low Water Flow and Too Little Mixing Makes Lakes Vulnerable to Water Pollution


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  • Eutrophication activities, they can cleanse themselves of many pollutants if we do not overload them or reduce their flows. – NATURAL nutrient enrichment

  • Oligotrophic lake - Low nutrients, clear water

  • Cultural eutrophication - human activities greatly accelerate the input of plant nutrients (phosphate s and nitrates!)

Cultural Eutrophication Is Too Much of a Good Thing


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Cultural Eutrophication Is Too Much of a Good Thing


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  • Prevent or reduce cultural eutrophication activities, they can cleanse themselves of many pollutants if we do not overload them or reduce their flows.

    • Remove nitrates and phosphates

    • Diversion of lake water

  • Clean up lakes

    • Remove excess weeds

    • Use herbicides and algaecides; down-side?

    • Pump in air

Cultural Eutrophication Is Too Much of a Good Thing


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Pollution Problems Affecting Groundwater, Other Water Sources


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  • Source of drinking water homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable.

  • Common pollutants

    • Fertilizers and pesticides

    • Gasoline

    • Organic solvents

  • Pollutants dispersed in a widening plume

Ground Water Cannot Cleanse Itself Very Well


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  • Slower chemical reactions in groundwater due to homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable.

    • Slow flow: contaminants not diluted

    • Less dissolved oxygen

    • Fewer decomposing bacteria

  • How long will it take to cleans itself of

    • Slowly degradable wastes

      • E.g., DDT

    • Nondegradable wastes

      • E.g., Pb and As

Ground Water Cannot Cleanse Itself Very Well


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Principal Sources of Groundwater Contamination in the U.S. homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable.


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  • China: many contaminated or overexploited aquifers homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable.

  • U.S.: FDA reports of toxins found in many aquifers

  • What about leaking underground storage tanks:

    • Gasoline

    • Oil

    • Methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE)

    • Nitrate ions

Groundwater Pollution Is a Serious Threat


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Pollution Prevention Is the Only Effective Way to Protect Groundwater


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  • Reservoirs and purification plants homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable.

  • Process sewer water to drinking water

  • Expose clear plastic containers to sunlight (UV)

  • Nanofilters

  • The LifeStraw

There Are Many Ways to Purify Drinking Water


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  • New York City water homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable.

    • Reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains

  • Protect the watershed instead of water purification plants

Case Study: Protecting Watersheds Instead of Building Water Purification Plants


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  • 1974: homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable. U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act

    • Sets maximum contaminant levels for any pollutants that affect human health

  • Health scientists: strengthen the law

  • Water-polluting companies: weaken the law

Using Laws to Protect Drinking Water Quality


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  • U.S.: some of the cleanest drinking water homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable.

  • Bottled water

    • Some from tap water

    • 40% bacterial contamination

    • Fuel cost to manufacture the plastic bottles

    • Recycling of the plastic

  • Growing back-to-the-tap movement

Is Bottled Water the Answer?


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  • The great majority of ocean pollution homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable. originates on land and includes oil and other toxic chemicals and solid wastes, which threaten aquatic species and other wildlife and disrupt marine ecosystems.

  • The key to protecting the oceans is to reduce the flow of pollutants from land and air and from streams emptying into these waters.

What Are the Major Water Pollution Problems Affecting Oceans?


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  • Cruise line pollution: what is being dumped? homes can spill and leak into groundwater and make it undrinkable.

  • U.S. coastal waters

    • Raw sewage

    • Sewage and agricultural runoff: NO3- and PO43-

    • Harmful algal blooms

    • Oxygen-depleted zones

Ocean Pollution Is a Growing and Poorly Understood Problem




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  • Crude Due to Algal Blooms and refined petroleum

    • Highly disruptive pollutants

  • Largest source of ocean oil pollution

    • Urban and industrial runoff from land

  • 1989: Exxon Valdez, oil tanker

  • 2002: Prestige, oil tanker

  • 2010: Deepwater Horizon

Ocean Oil Pollution Is a Serious Problem


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  • Volatile organic hydrocarbons Due to Algal Blooms

    • Kill many aquatic organisms

  • Tar-like globs on the ocean’s surface

    • Coat animals

  • Heavy oil components sink

    • Affect the bottom dwellers

Ocean Oil Pollution Is a Serious Problem


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Ocean Oil Pollution Is a Serious Problem



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  • Reduce erosion Due to Algal Blooms

    • Keep cropland covered with vegetation

  • Reduce the amount of fertilizers

  • Plant buffer zones of vegetation

  • Use organic farming techniques

  • Use pesticides prudently

  • Control runoff

  • Tougher pollution regulations for livestock operations

  • Deal better with animal waste

We Need to Reduce Surface Water Pollution from Nonpoint Sources


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  • 1972: Due to Algal Blooms Clean Water Act – control pollution of the country’s surface waters

  • EPA: experimenting with a discharge trading policy

  • Could this allow pollutants to build up?

Laws Can Help Reduce Water Pollution from Point Sources


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  • Septic tank system Due to Algal Blooms

  • Wastewater or sewage treatment plants

    • Primary sewage treatment

      • Physical process

    • Secondary sewage treatment

      • Biological process

    • Tertiary or advance sewage treatment

      • Bleaching, chlorination

Sewage Treatment Reduces Water Pollution


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Sewage Treatment Reduces Water Pollution


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WASTEWATER TREATMENT!!!! Due to Algal Blooms

Solutions: Primary and Secondary Sewage Treatment



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