Water pollution is the contamination of lakes, streams, bays, underground water, or oceans by substances harmful to living things. All organisms contain and need water. Some live in it and most drink it. Plants and animals require water that is mostly pure, and they cannot survive if their water is loaded with toxic chemicals or harmful microorganisms. Water pollution can kill large numbers of plants, fish, birds, and other animals. Pollution makes streams, lakes, and coastal waters unpleasant to look at, to smell, and to swim in. Organisms harvested from polluted waters may be unsafe to eat. People that consume polluted water can become ill, and may develop cancers or bear children with birth defects. Oil has been dumped into the water since the US Civil War. Every year, around 1 and 10 billion tons of oil are spilt into the ocean, killing many species and destroying the ecosystem in the area. Garbage, sewage, sludge, and toxic pollutants are all dumped into the water. Across the world, about half of all sewage is dumped into water bodies in its original form, there are no efforts made to purify it.
Many non-governmental projects are also helping out in an effort to clean up the water pollution. Environmental groups have played an important role in cleanup projects. Industries are beginning to reduce the amount of chemicals they dump into water. From 1972-1990, the United States alone has spent over $250 billion. All together, the world has spent tremendous amounts of money trying to clean up water. Since the Clean Water Act, other legislation has been enacted as well. Now, eleven different federal government agencies and 21 federal government programs monitor the quality of water and regulate pollution. In conclusion, water pollution can have effects on the environment and human health. The immediate effects of water pollution can be seen in water bodies and the animal and plant life that inhabits them. Pollution poisons and deforms fish and other animals, unbalances ecosystems and causes a reduction in biodiversity. Ultimately, these effects take their toll on human life.