Water effects every aspect of life whether it be animals, humans, the environment, and basic survival. It is a necessity for all living things. Life needs water to drink and in turn to live.
The Puget Sound is a mecca for many different species and a water source for many people. In the article Pump, Don’t Dump: Protecting Puget Sound from Vessel Waste by the Washington Environmental Council it states, “In 2016, over 10 million gallons were pumped out and diverted from Puget Sound.
” People dump waste from their boats into the water and create water pollution. Ten million gallons is a huge amount of wastewater or sewage that had to be pumped out of the Puget Sound. Water pollution is a serious issue for sustaining life. There are several ways in which water pollution occurs. Some occur naturally and others are caused by human actions. Regardless of how it happens it endangers wildlife that live in and around the water as well as humans who utilize and consume the water.
There are many causes of water pollution whether than come about naturally or by harmful human practices. In terms of groundwater, sometimes the cause of pollution can be chemical runoff from nearby farms. In the article Water Pollution: Everything You Need to Know by Melissa Denchak it states, “Groundwater gets polluted when contaminants—from pesticides and fertilizers to waste leached from landfills and septic systems—make their way into an aquifer, rendering it unsafe for human use.
” This type of water pollution is caused by humans use of chemicals that help with the agricultural industry. The problem with using these harmful chemicals to protect food though is that they end up harming people when the runoff contaminates water sources. Another cause of water pollution is the surplus of nutrients. This can affect groundwater and surface water. “Nutrient pollution, which includes nitrates and phosphates, is the leading type of contamination in these freshwater sources. While plants and animals need these nutrients to grow, they have become a major pollutant due to farm waste and fertilizer runoff.” (Denchak) There becomes a time when there is too much of a specific nutrient in the water and this causes the water to be unsafe for consumption or even swimming. In a study done by R. Suma from the academic journal Assessing the changes in soil properties and possible ground water pollution with application of primary treated distillery spentwash it states, “Chemical oxygen demand of percolating water decreased with increasing depth of soil column. However, application of DSW @ 1500 m3ha-1 increased all the parameters in leachate indicating its possible contamination over the period to underground water.” It seems odd that something like a nutrient could pollute the water, but when there is already enough of a nutrient in the water and things like fertilizer add more there becomes a buildup. This creates problems for people in terms of how much of a specific nutrient they should consume. This can be toxic to wildlife as well depending on how they can process the nutrients. These types of water pollution are called nonpoint source pollution. “Nonpoint source pollution is contamination derived from diffuse sources. These may include agricultural or stormwater runoff or debris blown into waterways from land. Nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water pollution in U.S. waters, but it’s difficult to regulate, since there’s no single, identifiable culprit.” (Denchak) This type of pollution makes up the majority of the water pollution in the U.S. mostly because it is hard to figure out where it originated from and how to regulate it.
The other major type of water pollution is called point source water pollution. “When contamination originates from a single source, it’s called point source pollution. Examples include wastewater (also called effluent) discharged legally or illegally by a manufacturer, oil refinery, or wastewater treatment facility, as well as contamination from leaking septic systems, chemical and oil spills, and illegal dumping.” (Denchak) This type of pollution is caused by humans who either pollute the water on purpose or a human made system has a faulty error that causes waste to leak into the water. Some examples of this type of water pollution would be a plant releasing untreated wastewater back into the mainstream systems, illegally dumping sewage waste from boats or other vehicles into the water, oil spills, chemical plants dumping toxic chemicals into the water, and throwing trash into the water. (Denchak) This pollution can also cause other waterways or bodies of water to become polluted. That process is called transboundary pollution. “Transboundary pollution is the result of contaminated water from one country spilling into the waters of another. Contamination can result from a disaster—like an oil spill—or the slow, downriver creep of industrial, agricultural, or municipal discharge.” (Denchak) It is clear that there are many causes of water pollution in terms of the fault of humans or natural occurrence mixed with human fault.
Water pollution has some serious effects on humans and the wildlife that inhabit the effected source or area. It can cause people to have overall health problems and lead to the need for medical care. In the article Toxic chemicals in Puget Sound by The Washington State Department of Ecology it states, “Exposure to these toxic chemicals can cause harm to human health and the animals exposed to them in the environment. Infants and children are especially at risk. Some toxic chemicals impair development, some affect reproduction and disrupt body chemistry, and some cause cancer.” The exposure to these harmful toxins can cause life threatening diseases to humans and animals. These pollutants are very dangerous for people to even be around or in, much less consume. If people are consuming water that has been contaminated with sewage or any form of wastewater then they could contract all different kinds of bacteria and become very ill. This is due to the disposal of items that are not found in nature that are thrown away into the water no matter if they travel from one body of water to the next.
Water pollution caused by groundwater runoff from agricultural areas effects humans and animals just as much as dumping toxic chemicals into a water source does. In the academic journal Kansas Growers and The Environmental Protection Agency: On the Same Side? A Look at Kansas’ Implementation of The Surface Water Nutrient Reduction Plan by Alyse Zadalis it states, “KDHE detected high levels of blue-green algae, water conditions are unsafe, and direct water contact for humans and animals is prohibited.11 Blue-green algae are composed of a type of bacteria called cyanobacteria, which is capable of producing toxins that affect the liver, skin, and nerve cells.12 Exposure to the toxic algae causes a variety of symptoms, ranging from dizziness to severe dermatitis, in those who come in contact with it.13 Dogs that swim in or drink water affected by a harmful blue-green algal bloom or eat dried algae along the shore have become ill or died as a result of this contact.” Blue algae are naturally occurring plants that are also a water pollutant that are very harmful to humans and animals. The effects of this pollutant are very serious and would require serious medical attention. The reason that the buildup of nutrients is so harmful to humans and animals is that it causes the growth of things such as blue algae. “Nitrogen and phosphorous, types of nutrients necessary for plant growth, are two of these factors and are often cited as the primary drivers of eutrophic conditions. Nutrients occur naturally in limited amounts, and this natural limitation acts to constrain the amount of plant and algal growth possible.20 When nutrients are present in unnaturally high concentrations, they are associated with an increase in the rate of eutrophic plant and algal growth.” (Zadalis) The buildup over time of these nutrients is what increases the amount of toxic plants such as blue algae. It is evident that the effects of water pollution on humans’ and animals’ health is detrimental and should be taken seriously.
There are some systems in place that are there to reduce the amounts of water pollution that there are, but there are not really any systems in place for nonpoint source water pollution. “Nonpoint source pollution is the leading cause of water pollution in U.S. waters, but it’s difficult to regulate, since there’s no single, identifiable culprit.” (Denchak) Although it seems difficult to do anything about the nonpoint source water pollution due to the difficulty that comes with finding the exact source of the problem, there should be some type of regulations for how much nutrients people can produce that would later turn into runoff. This would reduce the amount of nutrients buildup and also reduce how quickly the buildup occurs. This could be put in place for all people who work with agriculture seeing as though that seems to be the largest culprit in the production of chemical or nutrient runoff. In terms of point source water pollution, the systems in place are dated and the mechanisms are not efficient. “More than 80 percent of the world’s wastewater flows back into the environment without being treated or reused, according to the United Nations; in some least-developed countries, the figure tops 95 percent. In the United States, wastewater treatment facilities process about 34 billion gallons of wastewater per day… But according to EPA estimates, our nation’s aging and easily overwhelmed sewage treatment systems also release more than 850 billion gallons of untreated wastewater each year.” (Denchak) A major reason that the amount of pollutants that are being dumped into the water are only getting worse is because instead of waiting to replenish the water when it is cleaned, it is being put back in the water source without being treated. No wonder the systems in place are not making a huge impact on the issue. If the treatment centers treated all the wastewater then point source water pollution would not be as large of an issue. Eight hundred and fifty billion gallons is an immense amount of untreated, polluted, water to be putting back into the water sources. This is only a catalyst for causing water pollution. In the academic journal Bacteriological Contamination Detection in Water and Wastewater Samples Using OD600 by Magdalena Domańska it states, “The most important causes are microbial infiltration into the water system or water tanks as a result of poor technical condition of the water network or equipment, the repairs, and insufficient residual concentration of disinfectant.” (Domańska) If this by itself is one of the major causes or encouragements of water pollution then how is it supposed to help stop water pollution? The answer to that is that the intention of having water treatment centers is good, but the fulfillment of their purpose is lacking.
If there is going to be a reduction to the amount of water pollution in the Puget Sound then there needs to be modifications to the systems in place. First off there cannot be anymore releasing of untreated wastewater back into the water sources. This defeats the purpose of having water treatment plants. These water treatment plants help to clean the water for human use and consumption. By dumping dirty water back into the clean water, it is by definition polluting the clean water. If the dirty water is being released into the Puget Sound then people who do water activities such as swimming, canoeing, or kayaking are putting themselves and their health at risk. There needs to be updated systems for treating the water and larger facilities that can treat the amount of water being used. This also goes for the dumping of sewage and other waste from boaters and other plants. “Over 100 pumpout facilities are available all over Puget Sound (www.pumpoutwashington.org), and already serve marine vessel sewage needs… Fortunately, over 97% of boaters already do the right thing – they have holding tanks onboard to store sewage (also called blackwater), then pump it out using shoreside stations at state parks, marinas, or docks.” (“Toxic chemicals in Puget Sound”) These methods for better disposal of sewage and waste are in place already, but there needs to be enforcement. Whether it be that boats who are caught wrongfully disposing of waste are fined or that they have their boater’s license suspended for six months, similar to that of receiving a suspension for a DUI while driving. It might discourage that three percent of boaters who are not disposing of their waste the correct way to do so. For the nonpoint source side of the issue, there really is not any system in place to reduce the amount of water pollution that is created. So, in order to limit the about of water pollution that is being created there needs to be regulations in place for the amount of chemicals that farms and the agricultural industry can use on a yearly basis. By doing this it would reduce the amount of chemicals and extra nutrients already being used and transferred to the water sources by these farms. These regulations would be set to an amount that if followed would only result in an amount of water pollution that was safe for humans and animals to be around. This would clearly require some scientific research on what dose of water pollution is safe to be around. This would lessen the risk for people involved in water activities in the Puget Sound as well as the overall health of people and animals. People would be able to consume shellfish and other seafood from the Puget Sound without as much worry that what they are eating has been contaminated by the water pollution and could in turn cause them to be contaminated by the water pollution and fall ill. The pros of these solutions would be a reduced risk for humans and animals when enter the Puget Sound waters, better health for people and animals who enter the water, a cleaner environment, and less worry about seafood and water being consumed could be contaminated by water pollution. Some of the cons would be that this would result in some people being unhappy about having to suffer the consequences of dumping improperly, having to follow strict regulations on the amount of pesticides and fertilizer used yearly, and the need for more employees and updated systems at the water treatment facilities all together.
The combination of updating, increasing size, not dumping dirty water back into clean water, and enforcing fines or boating license suspensions for point source water pollution will be more effective than current systems. The current systems in place are not large enough or updated enough to facilitate the demand for treated water. For nonpoint source water pollution, the solution of having yearly restriction on the amounts of pesticides and fertilizer used in farming would be very effective as long as people follow the regulations. Considering there isn’t any system in place to reduce water pollution through this means, it would most definitely be more effective than the current standing of the situation. These solutions would great help to reduce water pollution to the point of an extremely low risk to humans and animals alike. By reducing the amount of pollution that re-enters the water system and lessening the amount of new water pollution it would greatly help to stop adding pollution to the water. Then the only aspect that would require help and attention would be the currently existing water pollution that inhabits the water sources and the Puget Sound, which could be greatly eliminated through the process of treating the existing waters. Without the addition of new water pollution on a daily basis and the treatment of the existing water pollution the Puget Sound will flourish as well as the wildlife that inhabits it and the people who choose to spend time in the water, enjoying the environment and species that sustain life through it.