What are some common sources of water pollution?

Although just about any substance can pollute water, there are a few sources of pollution that create the greatest risk—or add the greatest volume of pollutants to our waterways. These sources include: runoff, wastewater, air pollution, and eroded soil and nutrients. Each of these sources contribute different pollutants to our waterways, and they all have differing affects.
Runoff: Runoff can flow from both residential/developed and agricultural or farmlands. This occurs when a pollutant or contaminant gathers on the ground substrate and is carried to nearby waterways by rainwater. Sometimes the sheer volume of pollutant is enough to transport it to waterways, in the case of leaking oil drums or other liquid substance.
Wastewater: This is a growing problem as more industries generate products that require water to be used in the manufacturing process. Wastewater can be anything from water used to cool machinery to chemical and water slurries used to erode metals or other substances in high-tech industries. This is most commonly piped directly into local waterways, where it flows into streams or lakes and has a direct (and usually fast) affect on the surroundings.
Air pollution: This is a threat that is not commonly thought of in terms of water pollution. However, air pollution causes pollutants to enter our waterways. For example, a manufacturing plant can release a certain amount of pollutants into the air, and those pollutants are carried by the wind. Either the pollutants can settle out of the air over time, or rain can hasten the process and carry the pollutants directly into waterways.
Eroded soil and nutrients: Some might ask: “What is the problem of soil entering out waterways? It is naturally found in lakes and other bodies of water.” While this is true, the problem arises when excess soil and nutrients are introduced to our waterways. Natural cycles already incorporate soil and nutrients entering our waterways—over time, these nutrients and soils are either washed away, or they build up and a lake might become a field in time. The problem with too much soil matter is that it causes excess plant growth which takes nutrients away from fish, which are needed to maintain healthy hydrological systems
For more information on water-related issues, visit http://www.waterwise-consulting.com
Brian O’Neill

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