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20.1: Water Pollution

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    Water pollution is the contamination of water by an excess amount of a substance that can cause harm to human beings and/or the ecosystem. Contaminants may come from from direct or indirect sources, or captured from air by rain. The level of water pollution depends on the abundance of the pollutant, the ecological impact of the pollutant, and the use of the water.


    Modified by Melissa Ha from Water Pollution from Environmental Biology by Matthew R. Fisher (licensed under CC-BY)

    • 20.1.1: Water Pollutants and Their Sources
      Water can be contaminated by various human activities or by existing natural features, like mineral-rich geologic formations.  Agricultural activities, industrial operations, landfills, animal operations, and small and large scale sewage treatment processes, among many other things, all can potentially contribute to contamination. As water runs over the land or infiltrates into the ground, it dissolves material left behind by these potential contaminant sources.
    • 20.1.2: Water Treatment
      Untreated waste water contributes to hundreds of thousands of deaths every year. In the U.S., most wastewater is treated at a wastewater treatment plant or through a septic tank system, but billions of gallons of untreated waste water still escape each year.
    • 20.1.3: Mitigating Water Pollution
      Point source water pollution is regulated by the Clean Water Act. Remediation functions in cleaning up existing pollution. Watershed management relies on riparian areas to promote water quality.

    This page titled 20.1: Water Pollution is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Melissa Ha and Rachel Schleiger (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .