Chapter 22 Water Pollution Chapter Overview Questions What pollutes water, where do these pollutants come from, and what effects do they have? What are the major water pollution problems in streams and lakes? What causes groundwater pollution, and how can it be prevented? What are the major water pollution problems affecting oceans? Chapter Overview Questions (cont’d) How can we prevent and reduce surface water pollution? How safe is drinking water, and how can it be made safer? Core Case Study: Using Nature to Purify Sewage Ecological wastewater purification by a living machine. Uses the sun and a series of tanks containing plants, snails, zooplankton, crayfish, and fish (that can be eaten or sold for bait). WATER POLLUTION: SOURCES, TYPES, AND EFFECTS Water pollution is any chemical, biological, or physical change in water quality that has a harmful effect on living organisms or makes water unsuitable for desired uses. Point source: specific location (drain pipes, ditches, sewer lines). Nonpoint source: cannot be traced to a single site of discharge (atmospheric deposition, agricultural / industrial / residential runoff) Major Water Pollutants and Their Effects A fecal coliform bacteria test is used to indicate the likely presence of disease-causing bacteria in water. Major Water Pollutants and Their Effects Waterquality and dissolved oxygen (DO) content in parts per million (ppm) at 20°C. Only a few fish species can survive in water less than 4ppm at 20°C. POLLUTION OF FRESHWATER STREAMS Flowing streams can recover from a moderate level of degradable water pollutants if they are not overloaded and their flows are not reduced. In a flowing stream, the breakdown of degradable wastes by bacteria depletes DO and creates and oxygen sag curve. • This reduces or eliminates populations of organisms with high oxygen requirements. Water Pollution Problems in Streams and decay of degradable, oxygen- Dilution demanding wastes and heat in a stream. POLLUTION OF FRESHWATER STREAMS Most developed countries have sharply reduced point-source pollution but toxic chemicals and pollution from nonpoint sources are still a problem. Stream pollution from discharges of untreated sewage and industrial wastes is a major problem in developing countries. Global Outlook: Stream Pollution in Developing Countries Water in many of central China's rivers are greenish black from uncontrolled pollution by thousands of factories. Case Study: India’s Ganges River: Religion, Poverty, and Health Religiousbeliefs, cultural traditions, poverty, and a large population interact to cause severe pollution of the Ganges River in India. Very little of the sewage is treated. Hindu believe in cremating the dead to free the soul and throwing the ashes in the holy Ganges. • Some are too poor to afford the wood to fully cremate. • Decomposing bodies promote disease and depletes DO. Case Study: India’s Ganges River: Religion, Poverty, and Health Daily, more than 1 million Hindus in India bathe, drink from, or carry out religious ceremonies in the highly polluted Ganges River. POLLUTION OF FRESHWATER LAKES Dilution of pollutants in lakes is less effective than in most streams because most lake water is not mixed well and has little flow. Lakes and reservoirs are often stratified and undergo little mixing. Low flow makes them susceptible to runoff. Various human activities can overload lakes with plant nutrients, which decrease DO and kill some aquatic species. Cultural Eutrophication Eutrophication: the natural nutrient enrichment of a shallow lake, estuary or slow moving stream, mostly from runoff of plant nutrients from the surrounding land. Cultural eutrophication: human activities accelerate the input of plant nutrients (mostly nitrate- and phosphate-containing effluents) to a lake. 85% of large lakes near major population centers in the U.S. have some degree of cultural eutrophication. POLLUTION OF GROUNDWATER Groundwater can become contaminated with a variety of chemicals because it cannot effectively cleanse itself and dilute and disperse pollutants. The drinking water for about half of the U.S. population and 95% of those in rural areas comes from groundwater. Polluted air Pesticides and fertilizers Hazardous waste injection Deicing well Coal strip road salt Buried gasoline mine runoff and solvent tanks Pumping Gasoline station Cesspool, well septic tank Water Waste lagoon pumping well Sewer Landfill Leakage from Accidental faulty spills casing Discharge Confined aquifer Groundwater flow POLLUTION OF GROUNDWATER Itcan take hundreds to thousand of years for contaminated groundwater to cleanse itself of degradable wastes. Nondegradable wastes (toxic lead, arsenic, flouride) are there permanently. Slowly degradable wastes (such as DDT) are there for decades. Leaking tank Water table Groundwater flow Free gasoline Gasoline dissolves in leakage plume groundwater (liquid phase) (dissolved Migrating phase) vapor phase Contaminant plume moves Water well with the groundwater POLLUTION OF GROUNDWATER Leaks from a number of sources have contaminated groundwater in parts of the world. According the the EPA, one or more organic chemicals contaminate about 45% of municipal groundwater supplies. By 2003, the EPA had completed the cleanup of 297,000 of 436,000 underground tanks leaking gasoline, diesel fuel, home heating oil, or toxic solvents. Case Study: Arsenic in Groundwater - a Natural Threat Toxic Arsenic (As) can naturally occur at high levels in soil and rocks. Drilling into aquifers can release As into drinking water supplies. According to WHO, more than 112 million people are drinking water with As levels 5- 100 times the 10 ppb standard. Mostly in Bangladesh, China, and West Bengal, India. Solutions Groundwater Pollution Prevention Cleanup Find substitutes for Pump to surface, toxic chemicals clean, and return to aquifer (very Keep toxic expensive) chemicals out of the environment Inject Install monitoring microorganisms wells near landfills to clean up and underground contamination tanks (less expensive Require leak detectors but still costly) on underground tanks Pump Ban hazardous nanoparticles of waste disposal inorganic in landfills and compounds to injection wells remove pollutants (may be the Store harmful liquids in cheapest, easiest, aboveground tanks with leak and most effective detection and collection method but is still systems being developed) OCEAN POLLUTION Oceans, if they are not overloaded, can disperse and break down large quantities of degradable pollutants. Pollution of coastal waters near heavily populated areas is a serious problem. About 40% of the world’s population lives near on or near the coast. The EPA has classified 4 of 5 estuaries as threatened or impaired. Industry Cities Urban sprawl Nitrogen oxides Toxic metals Bacteria and Construction sites from autos and and oil from viruses from Sediments are washed into smokestacks, streets and sewers and septic waterways, choking fish and toxic chemicals, parking lots tanks contaminate plants, clouding waters, and and heavy metals pollute shellfish beds blocking sunlight. in effluents flow waters; into bays and estuaries. Farms Runoff of pesticides, manure, and fertilizers adds toxins and excess nitrogen and phosphorus. Red tides Closed Excess nitrogen causes shellfish beds explosive growth of toxicmicroscopic algae, Closed poisoning fish and beach marine mammals. Oxygen-depleted zone Toxic sediments Chemicals and toxic metals contaminate shellfish beds, kill spawning fish, and accumulate in the tissues of bottom feeders. Oxygen-depleted zone Healthy zone Sedimentation and algae Clear, oxygen-rich overgrowth reduce sunlight, waters promote growth kill beneficial sea grasses, use of plankton and sea grasses, up oxygen, and degrade habitat. fish. and support Fig. 21-10, p. 505 OCEAN POLLUTION Harmfulalgal blooms (HAB) are caused by explosive growth of harmful algae from sewage and agricultural runoff. Oxygen Depletion in the Northern Gulf of Mexico A large zone of oxygen- depleted water forms for half of the year in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of HAB. Case Study: The Chesapeake Bay – An Estuary in Trouble Pollutants from six states contaminate the shallow estuary, but cooperative efforts have reduced some of the pollution inputs. OCEAN OIL POLLUTION Most ocean oil pollution comes from human activities on land. Studies have shown it takes about 3 years for many forms of marine life to recover from large amounts of crude oil (oil directly from ground). Recovery from exposure to refined oil (fuel oil, gasoline, etc…) can take 10-20 years for marine life to recover. OCEAN OIL POLLUTION Tanker accidents and blowouts at offshore drilling rigs can be extremely devastating to marine life (especially diving birds, left). Solutions Coastal Water Pollution Prevention Cleanup Reduce input of toxic pollutants Improve oil-spill cleanup capabilities Separate sewage and storm lines Ban dumping of wastes and sewage by maritime and cruise Sprinkle nanoparticles over an ships in coastal waters oil or sewage spill to dissolve the oil or sewage without Ban ocean dumping of sludge and creating harmful by-products hazardous dredged material (still under development) Protect sensitive areas from development, oil drilling, and Require at least secondary oil shipping treatment of coastal sewage Regulate coastal development Recycle used oil Use wetlands, solar-aquatic, or other methods to treat sewage Require double hulls for oil tankers PREVENTING AND REDUCING SURFACE WATER POLLUTION The key to reducing nonpoint pollution – most of it from agriculture – is to prevent it from reaching bodies of water. Farmers can reduce runoff by planting buffers and locating feedlots away from steeply sloped land, flood zones, and surface water. How Would You Vote? Shouldwe greatly increase efforts to reduce water pollution from nonpoint sources even though this could be quite costly? a. No. Most farmers and ranchers can't afford more regulations. b. Yes. Nonpoint source water pollution is a serious environmental and human health threat. PREVENTING AND REDUCING SURFACE WATER POLLUTION Most developed countries use laws to set water pollution standards, but such laws rarely exist in developing countries. The U.S. Clean Water Act sets standards fro allowed levels of key water pollutants and requires polluters to get permits. EPA is experimenting with a discharge trading policy similar to that for air pollution control. Reducing Water Pollution through Sewage Treatment Septic tanks and various levels of sewage treatment can reduce point-source water pollution. Reducing Water Pollution through Sewage Treatment Raw sewage reaching a municipal sewage treatment plant typically undergoes: Primary sewage treatment: a physical process that uses screens and a grit tank to remove large floating objects and allows settling. Secondary sewage treatment: a biological process in which aerobic bacteria remove as much as 90% of dissolved and biodegradable, oxygen demanding organic wastes. Reducing Water Pollution through Sewage Treatment Primary and Secondary sewage treatment. Primary Secondary Chlorine Bar screen Grit chamber Settling tank Aeration tank Settling tank disinfection tank To river, lake, Sludge or ocean Raw sewage Activated sludge (kills bacteria) from sewers Air pump Sludge digester Disposed of in landfill or ocean or applied to Sludge drying bed cropland, pasture, or rangeland Reducing Water Pollution through Sewage Treatment Advanced or tertiary sewage treatment: Uses series of chemical and physical processes to remove specific pollutants left (especially nitrates and phosphates). Water is chlorinated to remove coloration and to kill disease-carrying bacteria and some viruses (disinfect). Reducing Water Pollution through Sewage Treatment Sewage sludge can be used as a soil conditioner but this can cause health problems if it contains infectious bacteria and toxic chemicals. Preventing toxic chemicals from reaching sewage treatment plants would eliminate such chemicals from the sludge and water discharged from such plants. Dust Particles Odors Particles of dried sludge Odors may cause illness or carry viruses and harmful indicate presence of harmful gases. bacteria that can be inhaled, infect cuts or enter homes. BUFFER Exposure ZONE Children may walk or play in fertilized fields. Livestock Poisoning Sludge Cows may die after grazing on sludge-treated fields. Groundwater Contamination Harmful chemicals Surface Runoff and pathogens Harmful chemicals may leach into and pathogens may groundwater pollute nearby and shallow wells. streams,lakes, ponds, and wetlands. How Would You Vote? Shouldwe ban the discharge of toxic chemicals into pipes leading to sewage treatment plants? a. No. Many small businesses and manufacturers can't afford tougher regulations. b. Yes. Dangerous wastes are still being released into sewage treatment plants. Reducing Water Pollution through Sewage Treatment Naturaland artificial wetlands and other ecological systems can be used to treat sewage. California created a 65 hectare wetland near Humboldt Bay that acts as a natural wastewater treatment plant for the town of 16,000 people. • The project cost less than half of the estimated price of a conventional treatment plant. Reducing Water Pollution through Sewage Treatment Water pollution laws have significantly improved water quality in many U.S. streams and lakes but there is a long way to go. Some want to strengthen the U.S. Clean Water Act (CWA) to prevent rather than focusing on end-of-the-pipe removal. Many farmers and developers see the CWA as limiting their rights as property owners to fill in wetlands. How Would You Vote? Should the U.S. Clean Water Act be strengthened? a. No. Many farmers, ranchers and small businesses can't afford additional regulations. b. Yes. It will further reduce pollution and protect the environment and human health. DRINKING WATER QUALITY Centralized water treatment plants and watershed protection can provide safe drinking water for city dwellers in developed countries. Simpler and cheaper ways can be used to purify drinking water for developing countries. Exposing water to heat and the sun’s UV rays for 3 hours can kill infectious microbes. Using Laws to Protect Drinking Water While most developed countries have drinking water quality standards and laws, most developing countries do not. The U.S Safe Drinking Water Act requires the EPA to establish national drinking water standards (maximum contaminant levels) for any pollutant that may have adverse effects on human health. Using Laws to Protect Drinking Water The U.N. estimates that 5.6 million Americans drink water that does not meet EPA standards. 1 in 5 Americans drinks water from a treatment plant that violated one or more safety standard. Industry pressures to weaken the Safe Drinking Act: Eliminate national tests and public notification of violations. Allow rights to pollute if provider cannot afford to comply. How Would You Vote? Should the U.S. Safe Drinking Water Act be strengthened? a. No. Rural people, small businesses and manufacturers can't afford more regulations. b. Yes. Strengthening the Act would protect the environment and the health of millions of people. Is Bottled Water the Answer? Some bottled water is not as pure as tap water and costs much more. 1.4 million metric tons of plastic bottles are thrown away. Fossil fuels are used to make plastic bottles. • The oil used to produce plastic bottles in the U.S. each year would fuel 100,000 cars. How Would You Vote? Should pollution standards be established for bottled water? a. No. Competition within the free market and the media would better solve the problems. b. Yes. Too many bottled waters contain bacteria and other dangerous contaminants. Solutions Water Pollution • Prevent groundwater contamination • Reduce nonpoint runoff • Reuse treated wastewater for irrigation • Find substitutes for toxic pollutants • Work with nature to treat sewage • Practice four R's of resource use (refuse, reduce, recycle, reuse) • Reduce air pollution • Reduce poverty • Reduce birth rates What Can You Do? Water Pollution • Fertilize garden and yard plants with manure or compost instead of commercial inorganic fertilizer. • Minimize your use of pesticides. • Do not apply fertilizer or pesticides near a body of water. • Grow or buy organic foods. • Do not drink bottled water unless tests show that your tap water is contaminated. Merely refill and reuse plastic bottles with tap water. • Compost your food wastes. • Do not use water fresheners in toilets. • Do not flush unwanted medicines down the toilet. • Do not pour pesticides, paints, solvents, oil, antifreeze, or other products containing harmful chemicals down the drain or onto the ground.
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