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Water Pollution

G. Tyler Millers Living in the Environment 14th Edition

Chapter 22

Water, Air, Land .

The solution to pollution is dilution.

Chapter 22 Key Concepts

Types, sources, and effects of water pollutants Major pollution problems of surface water Major pollution problems of groundwater Reduction and prevention of water pollution

Drinking water quality

Water makes us unique and gives life to Earth.

Section 1 Key Ideas

What are major types and effects of water pollution? How do we measure water quality? Point versus Nonpoint sources What are the major sources of pollution?

What is water pollution?

Any chemical, biological, or physical change in water quality that has a harmful effect on living organisms or makes water unsuitable for desired usage.

What is water pollution?

WHO: 3.4 million premature deaths each year from waterborne diseases 1.9 million from diarrhea U.S. 1.5 million illnesses 1993 Milwaukee 370,000 sick

What is water pollution?

Need to study Table 22-1 Page 492
Infectious Agents: bacteria and viruses often from animal wastes Oxygen Demanding Wastes: organic waste that needs oxygen often from animal waste, paper mills and food processing. Inorganic Chemicals: Acids and toxic chemicals often from runoff, industries and household cleaners

What is water pollution?

Organic Chemicals: oil, gasoline, plastics, detergents often from surface runoff, industries and cleaners Plant Nutrients: water soluble nitrates, ammonia and phosphates often from sewage, agriculture and urban fertilizers Sediment: soils and silts from land erosion can disrupt photosynthesis, destroy spawning grounds, clog rivers and streams Heat Pollution and Radioactivity: mostly from powerplants

How do we measure water quality

Bacterial Counts: Fecal coliform counts from intestines of animals None per 100 ml for drinking >200 per 100 ml for swimming Sources: human sewage, animals, birds, raccoons, etc.
See table 22-2 on page 493 for diseases transmitted by contaminated drinking water.

How do we measure water quality

Dissolved Oxygen: BOD Biological Oxygen Demandthe amount of oxygen consumed by aquatic decomposers Chemical Analysis: looking for presence of inorganic or organic chemicals Suspended Sediment water clarity

How do we measure water quality

Indicator Species: organisms that give an idea of the health of the water body. Mussels, oysters and clams filter water

Types, Effects and Sources of Water Pollution Point sources Nonpoint sources
Fig. 22-3 p. 494

Refer to Tables 22-1 and 22-2 p. 492 and 493

Water quality

Point and Nonpoint Sources


Rural homes

Urban streets


Animal feedlot
Suburban development POINT SOURCES


Wastewater treatment plant

Fig. 22-4 p. 494

Major Sources of Water Pollution

Agriculture: by far the leader Sediment, fertilizers, bacteria from livestock, food processing, salt from soil irrigation Industrial: factories and powerplants Mining: surface mining toxics, acids, sediment

Section 2-3 Key Ideas

Freshwater pollution: What are major problems in streams? Developed versus Developing Countries Lake Pollution: Why are lakes and reservoirs more vulnerable? What is Eutrophication?

Freshwater Stream Pollution

Flowing streams can recover from moderate level of degradable water pollution if their flows are not reduced.

Natural biodegradation process Does not work if overloaded or stream flow reduced Does not work against non biodegradable pollutants

Pollution of Streams
Oxygen sag curve Factors influencing recovery

Fig. 22-5 p. 496

What factors will influence this oxygen sag curve?

Two Worlds
Developed Countries U.S. and other developed countries sharply reduced point sources even with population and economic growth Nonpoint still a problem Toxic chemicals still problem Success Cuyahoga River, Thames River

Two Worlds

Developing Countries: Serious and growing problem Half of worlds 500 major rivers heavily polluted Sewage treatment minimal $$$ Law enforcement difficult 10% of sewage in China treated Economic growth with little $$$ to clean up

Indias Ganges River

Holy River (1 million take daily holy dip) 350 million (1/3rd of pop) live in watershed Little sewage treatment Used for bathing, drinking etc. Bodies (cremated or not) thrown in river Good news is the Indian government is beginning to work on problem

Case Study: Indias 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.

Freshwater Lake Pollution

Dilution as a solution in lakes less effective Little vertical mixing Little water flow (flushing) Makes them more vulnerable Toxins settle Kill bottom life Atmospheric deposition Food chain disruptions

Biomagnifications of PCBs in an aquatic food chain from the Great Lakes.

See figure 22-6 on page 498

Eutrophication of Lakes
Eutrophication: nutrient enrichment of lakes mostly from runoff of plant nutrients (nitrates and phosphates)
During hot dry weather can lead to algae blooms Decrease of photosynthesis Dying algae then drops DO levels Fish kills, bad odor

Pollution of Lakes

Fig. 22-7 p. 499

Eutrophication in Lakes
Solutions: Advanced sewage treatment (N, P) Household detergents Soil conservation Remove excess weed build up Pump in oxygen or freshwater

Case Study: The Great Lakes

Pollution levels dropped, but long way to go 95% of U.S. freshwater 30% Canadian pop, 14% U.S. 38 million drink 1% flow out St. Lawrence Toxic fish

Section 4: Groundwater
Why is groundwater pollution a serious problem? What is the extent of the problem? What are the solutions?

Groundwater can become contaminated No way to cleanse itself Little dilution and dispersion Out of sight pollution Prime source for irrigation and drinking REMOVAL of pollutant difficult

Groundwater Pollution: Causes

Low flow rates Few bacteria Low oxygen Cold temperatures
Hazardous waste injection well Pesticides Coal strip mine runoff

De-icing road salt

Pumping well Waste lagoon Gasoline station Water pumping well Landfill

Buried gasoline and solvent tank Cesspool septic tank

Sewer Leakage from faulty casing Discharge Confined aquifer Groundwater flow

Accidental spills

Fig. 22-9 p. 502

Pollution moves in plumes Soil, rocks, etc. act like sponge Cleansing does not work (low O, low flow, cold) Nondegradables may be permanent

Prevention is the most effective and cheapest

Groundwater Pollution Prevention

Monitor aquifers

Find less hazardous substitutes Leak detection systems

Strictly regulating hazardous waste disposal Store hazardous materials above ground

Section 5 Ocean Pollution

How much pollution can the oceans tolerate? Coastal zones: How does pollution affect coastal zones? What are major sources of ocean pollution and what is being done? Oils spills

Ocean Pollution
Oceans can disperse and break down large quantities of degradable pollution if they are not overloaded.
Pollution worst near heavily populated coastal zones Wetlands, estuaries, coral reefs, mangrove swamps 40% of worlds pop. Live within 62 miles of coast

Mangrove Swamp


Ocean Pollution
Large amounts of untreated raw sewage (viruses) Leaking septic tanks Runoff Algae blooms from nutrients Dead zones NO DO Airborne toxins Oil spills

Ocean Pollution

Fig. 22-11 p. 504

Case Study: Chesapeake Bay

Largest US estuary
Relatively shallow Slow flushing action to Atlantic Major problems with dissolved O2
Fig. 22-13 p. 506

Preventing and reducing the flow of pollution from land and from streams emptying into the ocean is key to protecting oceans

Oil Spills
Sources: offshore wells, tankers, pipelines and storage tanks

Effects: death of organisms, loss of animal insulation and buoyancy, smothering

Significant economic impacts Mechanical cleanup methods: skimmers and blotters Chemical cleanup methods: coagulants and dispersing agents

Oil Spills

Section 6: Prevention and Reduction

How can we reduce surface water pollution: point and also nonpoint. How do sewage treatment plants work? How successful has the U.S. been at reducing water pollution? Clean Water Act

Solutions: Preventing and Reducing Surface Water Pollution Nonpoint Sources Reduce runoff Buffer zone vegetation

Point Sources
Clean Water Act Water Quality Act

Reduce soil erosion

Only apply pesticides and fertilizers as needed

Nonpoint Sources

Reduce runoff

Nonpoint Sources

Buffer Zones Near Streams


Prevent soil erosion and only apply needed pesticides and fertilizers

Point Sources
Most developed countries use laws to set water pollution standards. Federal Water Pollution Control Act (Clean Water Act 1972, 77, 87) Regulates navigable waterways..streams, wetlands, rivers, lake

Clean Water Act

Sets standards for key pollutants Requires permits for discharge Requires sewage treatment Require permits for wetland destruction Does not deal with nonpoint sources well Goal All Waterways fishable and swimable

Technological Approach: Septic Systems

Require suitable soils and maintenance

of all U.S. homes have Septic tanks Can be used in parking lots, business parks, etc.

Fig. 22-15 p. 510

Combined sewer overflow is a problem in many older towns EPA: 1.8 M to 3.85 M sick from swimming in water contaminated by sewer overflows EPA: $100 billion to fix

Technological Approach: Sewage Treatment

Physical and biological treatment

Fig. 22-16 p. 511

Primary: removes 60% of solids and 30-40% oxygen demanding wastes (physically) Secondary: uses biological processes to remove up to 90% of biodegradables Tertiary: advanced techniques only used in 5% of U.S. $$$$ Disinfection: chlorine, ozone, UV What is not taken out???

Technological Approach: Advanced (Tertiary) Sewage Treatment

Uses physical and chemical processes

Removes nitrate and phosphate

Not widely used

Sludge disposalusing as fertilizer

Technological Approach: Using Wetlands to Treat Sewage

Fig. 22-18 p. 513

The Good News

Largely thanks to CWA: Between 1972 2002 fishable and swimmable streams 36% to 60% 74% served by sewage treatment Wetlands loss dropped by 80% Topsoil losses dropped by 1 billion tons annually

The Bad News

45% of Lakes, 40% streams still not fishable and swimmable Nonpoint sources still huge problem Livestock and Ag. Runoff Fish with toxins

Section 7 Drinking Water

How is drinking water purified? High tech way. How can we purify drinking water in developing nations? What is the Safe Drinking Water Act? Is bottled water a good answer or an expensive rip-off?

Drinking Water Quality

Purification of urban drinking water Protection from terrorism Purification of rural drinking water Safe Drinking Water Act

Maximum contaminant levels (MCLs)

Bottled water

Purification of urban drinking water

Surface Water: (like Delaware River) Removed to reservoir to improve clarity Pumped to a treatment plant to meet drinking water standards Groundwater: often does not need much treatment

Purification of rural drinking water

There can be simple ways to purify water: Exposing to heat and UV rays Fine cloths to filter water Add small amounts of chlorine

Safe Drinking Water Act

54 countries have drinking water laws
SDWA passed 1974 requires EPA to set drinking water standards

Maximum Contaminating Levels (MCLs)

Safe Drinking Water Act

Privately owned wells exempt from SDWA SDWA requires public notification of failing to meet standards and fine. MCLs often stated in parts per million or parts per billion

Bottle Water
U.S. has the worlds safest tap water due to billions of $$$ of investment
Bottle water 240 to 10,000 times more expensive than tap water

25% of bottle water is tap water

Bottle Water
1.4 million metric tons of bottle thrown away each year Toxic fumes released during bottling Bottles made from oil based plastics Water does not need to meet SDWA