The Causes of Water Pollution

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Water pollution is a significant decrease in water resources’ quality due to the ingress of various chemicals and solid waste into streams, rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans, or the multiplication of microscopic living organisms. The causes of water pollution are related to human activities. After observing the Drinking Water Supply and Quality Report 2018 and 2019, it has become clear that tap water in New York is considered one of the world’s highest quality. New York City receives drinking water from 19 reservoirs and three controlled lakes, located in a watershed of almost 2,000 square miles (“NYC Environmental Protection,” 2018). This drainage basin is located 125 miles north of New York City, in the Hudson Valley and the Catskills (“NYC Environmental Protection,” 2018). Drinking water does not require cleaning; however, to comply with all sanitary standards, it still disinfects with chlorine and ultraviolet radiation.

Meanwhile, despite all positive features of the NYC water supply system, several issues exist, including the changes in water quality and the chemical substances found after investigation provided by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The specific reason for the difference in water condition is the closure for repairs of one of the two aqueducts through which water from the Catskill watershed enters New York. In October 2018, the reservoirs of Westchester and Dutchess counties were involved in the city’s uninterrupted supply (“NYC Environmental Protection,” 2019). The water in these reservoirs is saturated with minerals – particularly calcium and magnesium – and therefore has a characteristic smell and taste (Hoang et al., 2019). This water is considered moderately heavy and leaves a residue on dishes and can clog sewer pipes. Previously, the share of its use in the water supply in New York City did not exceed ten percent, after this, the figure is twenty to thirty percent. Most of the water is supplied to Manhattan and parts of the Bronx.

The nonprofit Environmental Working Group (EWG) has released details on toxic chemicals present in water systems. Data from the EWG study materials show that drinking water in New York City does not meet health guidelines (“New York City System,” n.d). Six different pollutants associated with cancer have been found in the water (“New York City System,” n.d). Their level significantly exceeds the recommendations established by the health authorities but does not go beyond the legal norms. There are chemicals in the water, including chloroform, bromodichloromethane, and dichloroacetic acid (“New York City System,” n.d). Health authorities recommend that the amount of chloroform in water should not exceed the proportion of one in a billion. According to the EWG, it corresponds to one case of cancer in a million inhabitants, while New York City’s water level is 30.9 per billion (“New York City System,” n.d). Meanwhile, even this amount poses health risks to New Yorkers.

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Impact on the Environment and Human Health

The contamination of potable water with chemicals turned out to be much worse than previously thought. The substances that are resistant to environmental degradation are known as perfluoroalkyl (PFAS) (Jayaswal et al., 2018). This factor leads to the overuse of chlorine; consequently, it has several adverse outcomes of its high content in water. In addition to reducing the species diversity of marine and river flora and fauna, as chlorine does not disappear from the water circulation, these substances also accumulate in organisms and circulate in food chains, destroying tissues and leading to infertility and genetic mutations.

Concerning human health, frequent drinking of chlorinate water can increase the number of cancer cases, liver damage, low birth weight in babies, and other health problems. Chlorine interacts with other substances to form trihalomethanes; the most dangerous of these is chloroform, which leads to liver cancer. Moreover, epidemiologists compared a map of the distribution of tumors of the bladder and intestines in the United States with a plan of water chlorination. It turned out that where people drink this water, tumor cases are wide-spread (Li & Wu, 2019). The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has explored that water pollution could affect more than 110 million Americans (Li & Wu, 2019). If people live in a region where potable water has been contaminated, it will become impossible to avoid contact with chemicals.

Management Practices

Although the depletion and water pollution have been going on for years, an acceptable problem solution has not yet been found. Thus, the policy against water pollution prohibits the discharge of untreated wastewater into open water bodies, promotes natural self-purification processes, and creates clean water protection zones. The sequential wastewater treatment system, which is being implemented today in many modern enterprises, consists of two main stages. The first management practice is a mechanical process during which floating and rapidly settling substances are removed from the water. The second is biological management when the abatement with biologically degradable biologically active materials is carried out (Pires et al., 2017). Currently, the crucial way to combat pollution is wastewater treatment, but the fact is that up to 20 percent of the most persistent contamination remains in it (Alcamo, 2019). Finally, consumption and water pollution can be significantly reduced by introducing more closed cycles, such as reusing water in the same production cycle without discharging it into water bodies, restate wastewater, and switching to technologies based on lower consumption water.

Each person needs to master practical ways to conserve and improve water quality. The people’s ability to provide themselves with clean water for health and life consists of environmentally sound actions in everyday life. Citizens can support those public organizations that seek from the authorities’ concrete efforts to strengthen state control over discharges, reduce the burden on urban treatment facilities, and development of cleaner production.

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The Causes of Water Pollution. (2022, September 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved April 22, 2024, from
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