• What Are Some Examples of Water Pollution?

Water/Wastewater

What Are Some Examples of Water Pollution?

Apr 25 2022

As the world’s population continues to grow, so too do the demands we place upon the planet’s natural resources – and the undesirable impacts we have upon its environment. Although there are many different types and causes of water pollution, the most notable of them are often manmade. With that in mind, here’s a glance of some of the most newsworthy instances of water pollution from recent history.

Great Pacific Garbage Patch

Unfortunately, a significant amount of the waste created by the human race is not recycled or repurposed, while much of it does not even spend the end of its lifespan in landfill. Instead, it ends up in our seas and oceans, where it can accumulate into massive piles of floating debris, such as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch in the North Pacific Ocean. Also known as the Pacific Trash Vortex, this accumulation of rubbish is difficult to define in size due to the remoteness of its location and the constant shifting of tides, but can be seen from space.

Flint, Michigan

Between 2014 and 2019, around 100,000 residents of the Michigan city of Flint were exposed to unsafe levels of lead from their drinking water. That’s due to the fact that the municipal bodies in charge of water distribution changed their source without installing adequate corrosion inhibitors to their aging pipes. What’s more, it’s also thought that the citizens may have been exposed to Legionella bacteria, compromising their health and prompting a state of emergency to be called in 2016.

Cryptosporidium, Lancashire

Closer to home, Lancashire suffered its own water crisis in 2015. The trouble started when local authorities detected the presence of the cryptosporidium bug in water supplies, forcing them to advise residents to boil all water before use and avoid drinking tap water for around three days. Up to 700,000 Lancashire residents were affected by the episode and although there were no serious injuries, the presence of a disease-causing pathogen in the water was something of a wake-up call for a country which takes access to clean drinking water for granted.

Deepwater Horizon oil spillage

In 2010, one of the biggest oil spillages in history occurred in the Gulf of Mexico when the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded accidentally. Some 210 million tonnes of oil were released into the surrounding waters, polluting over 1,000 miles of coastline and wreaking devastating effects on the environment. Although the exact figures are not known, it’s estimated that upwards of 800,000 birds died as a result of the spillage, while over 65,000 turtles were found dead on nearby shorelines.

Great Barrier Reef coral bleaching

Ocean acidification caused by absorption of carbon into our waterways has had a catastrophic impact on certain marine organisms, including spectacular coral reefs like the one found at the Great Barrier in Australia. Because the pH levels become imbalanced, the coral is not able to sustain itself and loses its fantastic colouring (hence the name “bleaching”). Meanwhile, the myriad plant and animal species which call the reef home are forced to go elsewhere to seek their sustenance.

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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