Over the years, humans have abused water stores resulting in unimaginable pollution. Numerous human activities damage these water stores and aquatic ecosystems such as overfishing, mining, agriculture, degradation of wetlands and estuaries, coastal development, and invasive species introduced by humans (UN-Water 2011). As a case in point, 40% of the world’s largest rivers have been fragmented by canals and dams made by humans. This reduces the water flow and increases damage from coastal storms demolishing the ecosystems along with the habitats that many animals depend on (Miller & Spoolman 2018).
Point and nonpoint forms of pollution such as discharge from sewage treatment systems affect the waters greatly (Pollution Issues).
Once a pollutant enters the water supply, it is difficult to extract it and resolve the problem. Thankfully, there are efforts to help manage pollution in water stores. An example is the Florida Everglades, which has been degraded by human activities heavily. Over the years, the famous wetland has been destroyed and now is only a third of its original size.
Due to the growing population and increase in urbanization, agriculture also increased. Thus, fertilizers and pesticides from agricultural lands traveled into the Everglades waterways (Threats to the Ecosystem). Agriculture causes runoff into the waterways adding excess amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus to the waters resulting in eutrophication. Eutrophication is the overgrowth of plant and algal blooms due to excess nutrients (Craft & Richardson 1993). This diminishes the dissolved oxygen levels in the lake annihilating organisms which results in further depletion in deeper waters due to decomposers (Miller & Spoolman 2018). This is ultimately caused by human activities spreading nitrogen and phosphorus pollutants from households, agricultural, urban, and industrial lands (Marine Biodiversity Wiki). In an attempt to prevent the degradation of the land and its ecosystem, the Everglades National Park was established in December 1947 (NPS 2015).
The pollution in water stores is being managed in the Everglades through prevention and restoration projects. For example, the 30-year Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) was passed by Congress in 2000 to protect 18,000 square miles of the endangered Everglades (Perry 2004). The goal of this management is to provide water storage needs and restore the historic flow from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades. Another project moving ahead is the C-111 N. Spreader Canal project which is supposed to correct the freshwater flow (Everglades Foundation). The pollution in the Everglades is detrimental, but management projects are in action. In addition to the Everglades, another ecosystem destroyed by human activities is the Citarum River located in Indonesia. After the rapid industrialization in the 1980s, the unregulated factory growth worsened the pollution in the river with human and industrial waste (Yallop 2014). This river is well-known as the world’s most polluted river. Almost 60% of Citarum’s fish species are been eradicated (Tarahita & Rakhmat 2018). Untreated waste disposal is a leading cause of the extensive pollution in this river.
Sewage from a treatment plant, factory, or home is deposited into the Citarum. Over 80% of wastewater goes untreated flowing back into the environment (UNESCO 2017). Wastewater pollution causes water quality to worsen and harms aquatic ecosystems. The pollutant may affect groundwater deposits and be discharged into other bodies of water contaminated. Sewage pollution often carries disease-carrying microbes which may spread and create further damage (Stumpf, Ternes, Wilken, Rodrigues, & Baumann 1999). Appallingly, 1.8 billion people drink water contaminated with feces, risking cholera, dysentery, typhoid, and polio (WHO/UNICEF 2015). Successive governments in Indonesia have promised to clean the Citarum River.
In 2018, President Joko Widodo signed off on a seven-year program to clean the river. The goal of this rehabilitation program is to make Citarum water drinkable once again by 2025. The International Monetary Fund and Asian Development Bank will support the program to cleanse the Citarum river (Tarahita & Rakhmat 2018). The largest estuary in the United States, the Chesapeake Bay, is also in danger due to human activities (Malone & Bell 1991). The soaring human population arises many problems for this estuary as waste levels increase as well. Only 1% of waste products are transferred into the Atlantic Ocean, so the rest of the waste remains in the shallow bay. Similar to the Everglades, phosphate, and nitrogen pollutants are accumulating and causing oxygen depletion and algal blooms in the waters harming aquatic life. In the Chesapeake Bay, populations of animals such as crabs and oysters have declined tremendously since 1960. Researchers are conducting experiments and projects such as oyster sanctuaries to restore the oyster population to resolve these issues in the polluted estuary (Miller & Spoolman 2018).
For instance, the Chesapeake Bay Program was placed by the United States in 1983 as an attempt to lessen pollution inputs. Other management efforts are also being implemented namely banning phosphate detergents and improving sewage treatment plants. Another attempt was an executive order from President Obama; the order directed the Environmental Protection Agency to reinvigorate the estuary with the help of the Clean Water Act (Miller & Spoolman 2018). Water stores globally have been devasted by numerous human activities. Many aquatic ecosystems are endangered due to human interventions such as dams, control levees and dikes, pollutants, and agricultural uses (Miller & Spoolman 2018). However, myriad management efforts from governments are in action.