How Can Water Pollution Be Reduced?
May 01 2022
Given that water is the resource upon which all life on Earth depends for its survival, preventing its pollution should be a matter of the utmost priority. Nonetheless, ballooning demand for water has placed a great strain upon our reserves, while the proliferation of anthropogenic activity over the last 200 years has resulted in increased contamination of the precious supplies we hold.
So how can water pollution be reduced? Here are seven ways in which we as a society and as individuals can clean up our act with regard to our water sources.
The number one way to curb water pollution is to prevent it from becoming contaminated in the first place. Since wastewater – whether that be from sewage, manufacturing plant effluents or other sources – is the leading cause of water pollution, monitoring and treating it should be standard practice across the globe. Unfortunately, insufficient infrastructure, lack of political will and a dearth of funding means that as much as 80% of our wastewater is released back into the environment untreated at present.
In times of extreme weather events, heavy rainfall can cause flooding, which lifts contaminants from the earth and washes them into the nearest bodies of water. Given that climate change is increasing the frequency and intensity of such storms, the issue is only likely to become more commonplace in the future. As such, it’s imperative that adequate stormwater management systems are put in place to reduce the harmful effects of flooding.
Fertilisers and other agricultural products containing chemicals like phosphate and nitrogen can find their way into streams and rivers through rainwater run-off. This upsets the delicate nutritional balance in these ecosystems and encourages the growth of some species over others. Adopting green farming practices, such as precision agriculture, organic cultivation methods and the planting of hedges or trees to serve as breakwaters are excellent methods of reducing the pollution generated by the farming sector.
On the other hand, consumers can do their part by selecting organic products in the supermarket. As demand for these crops increases, more time, resources and attention will be devoted to them, resulting in reduced consumption of chemical-based products in the long run.
Store oils and fats
After cooking, many people are tempted to pour their old oils and fats down the drain, since out of sight often equates to out of mind. However, these substances can cause greasy build-ups in drains and sewers, clogging them completely. Even if they do not cause an impasse, they can leach into rivers and streams and endanger the organisms living there.
Since the concentration of contaminants in a solvent is greater if the volume of the latter is smaller, it makes sense to try and reduce our consumption of water as much as possible. This means turning off the tap when not in use, having short showers instead of baths and installing a water-efficient toilet, among other methods of curbing the amount of water we use.
Reduce plastic consumption
Meanwhile, plastic is another great bane of water quality. For example, did you know that as much as 12 million tonnes of plastic are released into our seas and oceans each year? That has contributed to more than five trillion tonnes of the stuff floating in our waterways at the present time. Phasing out single-use plastics in favour of more sustainable alternatives, as well as reusing and recycling wherever possible, is key to reducing plastic pollution.
For those interested in learning more about the topic of water pollution, the upcoming Water, Wastewater and Environmental Monitoring (WWEM) exhibition promises to be a great source of information. Scheduled to take place in Telford in the UK on the 12th and 13th October 2022, the exhibition will cover the subject from all angles.
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