Loading...

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Introduction

Introduction

Millions depend on the polluted Ganges river.
Water pollution is a major global problem which requires ongoing evaluation and revision of water resource policy at all levels (international down to individual aquifers and wells). It has been suggested that it is the leading worldwide cause of deaths and diseasesand that it accounts for the deaths of more than 14,000 people daily.[2] An estimated 700 million Indians have no access to a proper toilet, and 1,000 Indian children die of diarrheal sickness every day.[3] Some 90% of China's cities suffer from some degree of water pollution,[4] and nearly 500 million people lack access to safe drinking water.[5] In addition to the acute problems of water pollution in developing countries, industrialized countries continue to struggle with pollution problems as well. In the most recent national report on water quality in the United States, 45 percent of assessed stream miles, 47 percent of assessed lake acres, and 32 percent of assessed bay and estuarine square miles were classified as polluted.[6]
Water is typically referred to as polluted when it is impaired by anthropogenic contaminants and either does not support a human use, such as drinking water, and/or undergoes a marked shift in its ability to support its constituent biotic communities, such as fish. Natural phenomena such as volcanoes, algae blooms, storms, and earthquakes also cause major changes in water quality and the ecological status of water.

Measurement

Measurement

Environmental Scientists preparing water autosamplers.
Water pollution may be analyzed through several broad categories of methods: physical, chemical and biological. Most involve collection of samples, followed by specialized analytical tests. Some methods may be conducted in situ, without sampling, such as temperature. Government agencies and research organizations have published standardized, validated analytical test methods to facilitate the comparability of results from disparate testing events.[19]

Sampling

Sampling of water for physical or chemical testing can be done by several methods, depending on the accuracy needed and the characteristics of the contaminant. Many contamination events are sharply restricted in time, most commonly in association with rain events. For this reason "grab" samples are often inadequate for fully quantifying contaminant levels. Scientists gathering this type of data often employ auto-sampler devices that pump increments of water at either time or discharge intervals.
Sampling for biological testing involves collection of plants and/or animals from the surface water body. Depending on the type of assessment, the organisms may be identified for biosurveys (population counts) and returned to the water body, or they may be dissected for bioassays to determine toxicity.

Categories

Categories

Surface water and groundwater have often been studied and managed as separate resources, although they are interrelated.[7] Surface water seeps through the soil and becomes groundwater. Conversely, groundwater can also feed surface water sources. Sources of surface water pollution are generally grouped into two categories based on their origin.

Point sources

Point source pollution - Shipyard - Rio de Janeiro.
Point source water pollution refers to contaminants that enter a waterway from a single, identifiable source, such as a pipe or ditch. Examples of sources in this category include discharges from a sewage treatment plant, a factory, or a city storm drain. The U.S. Clean Water Act (CWA) defines point source for regulatory enforcement purposes.[8] The CWA definition of point source was amended in 1987 to include municipal storm sewer system

Categories

Surface water and groundwater have often been studied and managed as separate resources, although they are interrelated.[7] Surface water seeps through the soil and becomes groundwater. Conversely, groundwater can also feed surface water sources. Sources of surface water pollution are generally grouped into two categories based on their origin.

Point sources

Point source pollution - Shipyard - Rio de Janeiro.
Point source water pollution refers to contaminants that enter a waterway from a single, identifiable source, such as a pipe or ditch. Examples of sources in this category include discharges from a sewage treatment plant, a factory, or a city storm drain. The U.S. Clean Water Act (CWA) defines point source for regulatory enforcement purposes.[8] The CWA definition of point source was amended in 1987 to include municipal storm sewer systems, as well as industrial stormwater, such as from construction sites.[9]

Non–point sources

Non–point source (NPS) pollution refers to diffuse contamination that does not originate from a single discrete source. NPS pollution is often the cumulative effect of small amounts of contaminants gathered from a large area. A common example is the leaching out of nitrogen compounds from fertilized agricultural lands. Nutrient runoff in stormwater from "sheet flow" over an agricultural field or a forest are also cited as examples of NPS pollution.
Contaminated storm water washed off of parking lots, roads and highways, called urban runoff, is sometimes included under the category of NPS pollution. However, this runoff is typically channeled into storm drain systems and discharged through pipes to local surface waters, and is a point source. However where such water is not channeled and drains directly to ground it is a non-point source.
s, as well as industrial stormwater, such as from construction sites.[9]

Non–point sources

Non–point source (NPS) pollution refers to diffuse contamination that does not originate from a single discrete source. NPS pollution is often the cumulative effect of small amounts of contaminants gathered from a large area. A common example is the leaching out of nitrogen compounds from fertilized agricultural lands. Nutrient runoff in stormwater from "sheet flow" over an agricultural field or a forest are also cited as examples of NPS pollution.
Contaminated storm water washed off of parking lots, roads and highways, called urban runoff, is sometimes included under the category of NPS pollution. However, this runoff is typically channeled into storm drain systems and discharged through pipes to local surface waters, and is a point source. However where such water is not channeled and drains directly to ground it is a non-point source.

Agricultural wastewater

Agricultural wastewater

Riparian buffer lining a creek in Iowa
Nonpoint source controls
Sediment (loose soil) washed off fields is the largest source of agricultural pollution in the United States.[10] Farmers may utilize erosion controls to reduce runoff flows and retain soil on their fields. Common techniques include contour plowing, crop mulching, crop rotation, planting perennial crops and installing riparian buffers.p. 4-95–4-96
Nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) are typically applied to farmland as commercial fertilizer; animal manure; or spraying of municipal or industrial wastewater (effluent) or sludge. Nutrients may also enter runoff from crop residues, irrigation water, wildlife, and atmospheric deposition.[27]:p. 2-9 Farmers can develop and implement nutrient management plans to reduce excess application of nutrients:pp. 4-37–4-38
To minimize pesticide impacts, farmers may use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques (which can include biological pest control) to maintain control over pests, reduce reliance on chemical pesticides, and protect water quality.[28]
Confined Animal Feeding Operation in the United States
Point source wastewater treatment
Farms with large livestock and poultry operations, such as factory farms, are called concentrated animal feeding operations or confined animal feeding operations in the U.S. and are being subject to increasing government regulation.Animal slurries are usually treated by containment in lagoons before disposal by spray or trickle application to grassland. Constructed wetlands are sometimes used to facilitate treatment of animal wastes, as are anaerobic lagoons. Some animal slurries are treated by mixing with straw and composted at high temperature to produce a bacteriologically sterile and friable manure for soil improvement.

Control

Control

Domestic sewage

Deer Island Waste Water Treatment Plant serving Boston, Massachusetts and vicinity.
Domestic sewage is 99.9 percent pure water, while the other 0.1 percent are pollutants. Although found in low concentrations, these pollutants pose risk on a large scale.[22] In urban areas, domestic sewage is typically treated by centralized sewage treatment plants. In the U.S., most of these plants are operated by local government agencies, frequently referred to as publicly owned treatment works (POTW). Municipal treatment plants are designed to control conventional pollutants: BOD and suspended solids. Well-designed and operated systems (i.e., secondary treatment or better) can remove 90 percent or more of these pollutants. Some plants have additional sub-systems to treat nutrients and pathogens. Most municipal plants are not designed to treat toxic pollutants found in industrial wastewater.[23]
Cities with sanitary sewer overflows or combined sewer overflows employ one or more engineering approaches to reduce discharges of untreated sewage, including:
  • utilizing a green infrastructure approach to improve stormwater management capacity throughout the system, and reduce the hydraulic overloading of the treatment plant[24]
  • repair and replacement of leaking and malfunctioning equipment[15]
  • increasing overall hydraulic capacity of the sewage collection system (often a very expensive option).

Transport and chemical reactions of water pollutants

Transport and chemical reactions of water pollutants

Most water pollutants are eventually carried by rivers into the oceans. In some areas of the world the influence can be traced hundred miles from the mouth by studies using hydrology transport models. Advanced computer models such as SWMM or the DSSAM Model have been used in many locations worldwide to examine the fate of pollutants in aquatic systems. Indicator filter feeding species such as copepods have also been used to study pollutant fates in the New York Bight, for example. The highest toxin loads are not directly at the mouth of the Hudson River, but 100 kilometers south, since several days are required for incorporation into planktonic tissue. The Hudson discharge flows south along the coast due to coriolis force. Further south then are areas of oxygen depletion, caused by chemicals using up oxygen and by algae blooms, caused by excess nutrients from algal cell death and decomposition. Fish and shellfish kills have been reported, because toxins climb the food chain after small fish consume copepods, then large fish eat smaller fish, etc. Each successive step up the food chain causes a stepwise concentration of pollutants such as heavy metals (e.g. mercury) and persistent organic pollutants such as DDT. This is known as biomagnification, which is occasionally used interchangeably with bioaccumulation.
A polluted river draining an abandoned copper mine on Anglesey
Large gyres (vortexes) in the oceans trap floating plastic debris. The North Pacific Gyre for example has collected the so-called "Great Pacific Garbage Patch" that is now estimated at 100 times the size of Texas. Many of these long-lasting pieces wind up in the stomachs of marine birds and animals. This results in obstruction of digestive pathways which leads to reduced appetite or even starvation.