Going Green and Water Pollution – Discusses our Peshawar University Correspondent

The picture given shows the garbage near water which pollutes the water in one way or the other. Water pollution is the very major problem of today’s era due to industries, illiterate behavior of literate people and other reasons. People throw garbage near the water pools and so it falls in water causing water pollution, which also destroys marine life.

Water pollution affects plants and organisms living in water, and in almost all cases, the effect is damaging not only to individual species and populations, but also to the natural biological communities.

Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds.

Not to forget, pollution is defined as: to make foul or unclean; dirty. Water pollution occurs when a body of water is adversely affected due to the addition of large amounts of materials to the water. When it is unfit for its intended use, water is considered polluted. Two types of water pollutants exist; point source and non point source.

Point sources of pollution occur when harmful substances are emitted directly into a body of water. The Exxon Valdez oil spill best illustrates point source water pollution. A nonpoint source delivers pollutants indirectly through environmental changes. An example of this type of water pollution is when fertilizer from a field is carried into a stream by rain, in the form of run-off which in turn affects aquatic life. The picture given shows the non point type of pollution which is caused due to environmental effects in lakes, rivers etc.

Water pollution is a major problem in the global context. It has been suggested that it is the leading worldwide cause of deaths and diseases, and that it accounts for the deaths of more than 14,000 people daily.

Comprising over 70% of the Earth’ surface, water is still undoubtedly the most precious natural resource that exists on our planet. Without the seemingly invaluable compound comprised of hydrogen and oxygen, life on Earth would be non-existent: it is essential for everything on our planet to grow and prosper. Although, we as humans recognize this fact, we disregard it by polluting our rivers, lakes, and oceans. Subsequently, we are slowly but surely harming our planet to the point where organisms are dying at a very alarming rate. In addition to innocent organisms dying off, our drinking water has become greatly affected as has our ability to use water for recreational purposes. In order to combat water pollution, we must understand the problems and become part of the solution.

The Causes

Many causes of pollution, including sewerage and fertilizers, contain nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates. In excess levels, nutrients over stimulate the growth of aquatic plants and algae. Excessive growth of these types of organisms consequently clogs our waterways, use up dissolved oxygen as they decompose, and block light to deeper waters.
This, in turn, proves very harmful to aquatic organisms as it affects the ability to respire, in fish and other invertebrates that reside in water.

Pollution is also caused when silt and other suspended solids, such as soil, wash off plowed fields, construction and logging sites, urban areas, and eroded river banks when it rains. Under natural conditions, lakes, rivers, and other water bodies undergo Eutrophication, an aging process that slowly fills in the water body with sediment and organic matter. When these sediments enter various bodies of water, fish respiration becomes impaired, plant productivity and water depth becomes reduced, and aquatic organisms and their environments become suffocated. Pollution in the form of organic
material enters waterways in many different forms as sewage, as leaves and grass clippings, or as runoff from livestock feedlots and pastures. When natural bacteria and protozoan in the water break down this organic material, they begin to use up the oxygen dissolved in the water. Many types of fish and bottom-dwelling animals cannot survive when levels of dissolved oxygen drop below two to five parts per million. When this occurs, it kills aquatic organisms in large numbers which leads to disruptions in the food chain.

Pathogens are another type of pollution that proves very harmful. They can cause many illnesses that range from typhoid and dysentery to minor respiratory and skin diseases. Pathogens include such organisms as bacteria, viruses, and protozoan. These pollutants enter waterways through untreated sewage, storm drains, septic tanks, runoff from farms, and particularly boats that dump sewage. Though microscopic, these pollutants have a tremendous effect evidenced by their ability to cause sickness.

The Solution

Clearly, the problems associated with water pollution have the capabilities to disrupt life on our planet to a great extent. The government alone cannot solve the entire problem. It is ultimately up to us, to be informed, responsible and involved when it comes to the problems we face with our water. We must become familiar with our local water resources and learn about ways for disposing harmful household wastes so they don’t end up in sewage treatment plants that can’t handle them or landfills not designed to receive hazardous materials. In our yards, we must determine whether additional nutrients are needed before fertilizers are applied, and look for alternatives where fertilizers might run off into surface waters. We have to preserve existing trees and plant new trees and shrubs to help prevent soil erosion and promote infiltration of water into the soil. Around our houses, we must keep litter, pet waste, leaves, and grass clippings out of gutters and storm drains. These are just a few of the many ways in which we, as humans, have the ability to combat water pollution. As we head into the 21st century, awareness and education will most assuredly continue to be the two most important ways to prevent water pollution. If these measures are not taken and water pollution continues, life on earth will suffer severely.
Global environmental collapse is not inevitable. But the developed world must work with the developing world to ensure that new industrialized economies do not add to the world’s environmental problems. Politicians must think of sustainable development rather than economic expansion. Conservation strategies have to become more widely accepted, and people must learn that energy use can be dramatically diminished without sacrificing comfort. In short, with the technology that currently exists, the years of global environmental mistreatment can begin to be reversed.

The author, Arsh Azim, is TechLitEvents’ correspondent from the University of Peshawar, who has tried to bring in limelight, some of the serious hurdles in our way to go green.



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