When water bodies such as rivers, lakes, aquifers, groundwater, and oceans become contaminated, water pollution occurs. The degradation of the environment in this form happens when pollutants are directly or indirectly discharged into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds (Water Pollution, 2016.) Recently, when the water supply in Flint, Michigan, was contaminated which which caused toxicity that had the potential to cause permanent developmental difficulties for the brains and bodies of developing children, the problem of water pollution again rose to national attention. This paper will discuss the ways in which technology has both contributed to as well as provided solutions for this potentially devastating environmental issue.
Technological advances that have contributed to facilitating manufacturing and production in mass quantities all over the world have also caused millions of tons of fertilizer and chemicals to be discarded into streams, lakes, and rivers. The pollution of water supplies is occurring in a large number of developing countries, where approximately 70% of industrial waste are dumped untreated into waters, leaving the usable water supply contaminated (Water Pollution, 2016.) Advances in technology have also caused pollutants to be produced on a large scale, such as when insecticides have been delivered using small aircraft and other vehicles, and that have caused chemicals to spill over into the water supply. The water seeps into the ground, rivers, and other aquifers, entering the food supply and having an impact on the health of people, plants, and animals.
However, technology has also caused improvements in the way that scientists have the ability to detect greater numbers of pollutants and in smaller concentrations in groundwater all over the planet (Water Pollution, 2016.) Contaminants such as birth control pills and sunscreen in addition to pesticides and petroleum, are contained in trace amounts in the entire range of water sources all over the world. In addition to pollution that is synthetically caused, biological waste such as human sewage, rainwater runoff polluted by fertilizers from backyards and farmland,, as well as animal excrement also wind up in freshwater sources. The nutrients from these substances make their way through systems of rivers into seas, and sometimes create coastal ocean zones lacking oxygen.
As a result, aquatic life is interrupted, mutated, or eliminated, causing the connection between the soil and the sea to be extremely evident. When a person dumped in a substance like paint down the drain, frequently this toxic material ends up in the ocean by traveling through systems of fresh water. The technology that has made the delivery of water a modern miracle in the developed countries has been both a blessing and a curse. In the developed parts of the world, regulations restrict industry and agriculture, prohibiting them from pouring pollutants into lakes, streams, and rivers (Water Pollution, 2016.) This is not the case, however, in many other parts of the world where access to clean, fresh water is completely lacking.
Technology has also provided an answer to water pollution by developing expensive filtration and treatment plants that allow drinking water to be safe to ingest. Certain cities are promoting infrastructure that is “green” such as ecologically friendly green roofs as well as rain gardens in order to filter out pollutants in a natural way. However, in other parts of the developing world, where there is less infrastructure from a political, economical, and technical perspective, the issue of water pollution faces tremendous threats in relation to freshwater and all of the people, vegetation and animal life that rely on it for survival.
- Water pollution. (2016). Retrieved from National Geographic.com: http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/pollution/