You are on page 1of 9

A short recall: What is water?

Water is a chemical substance with the chemical formula H2O. A water molecule contains one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms connected by covalent bonds. Water covers 70.9% of the Earth's surface, and is vital for all known forms of life. Water on Earth moves continually through the hydrological cycle of evaporation and transpiration (evapotranspiration), condensation, precipitation, and runoff, usually reaching the sea. Water plays an important role in the world economy, as it functions as a solvent for a wide variety of chemical substances and facilitates industrial cooling and transportation.

Water Pollution
Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies (e.g. lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater). Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds. 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 diseases, and that it accounts for the deaths of more than 14,000 people daily.

Categories of water pollution


Surface water and groundwater have often been studied and managed as separate resources, although they are interrelated. 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 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. The CWA definition of point source was amended in 1987 to include municipal storm sewer systems, as well as industrial storm water, such as from construction sites. Nonpoint 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 storm water from "sheet flow" over an agricultural field or a forest are also cited as examples of NPS pollution. Contaminated storm water washed off from parking lots, roads and highways, called urban runoff, is sometimes included under the category of NPS pollution.

Ground Water Pollution Sometimes referred to as groundwater contamination, is not as easily classified as surface water pollution. By its very nature, groundwater aquifers are susceptible to contamination from sources that may not directly affect surface water bodies, and the distinction of point vs. non-point source may be irrelevant. A spill or ongoing releases of chemical or radionuclide contaminants into soil (located away from a surface water body) may not create point source or non-point source pollution, but can contaminate the aquifer below, defined as a toxin plume.

Major causes of Water Pollution The specific contaminants leading to pollution in water include a wide spectrum of chemicals, pathogens, and physical or sensory changes such as elevated temperature and discoloration. While many of the chemicals and substances that are regulated may be naturally occurring (calcium, sodium, iron, manganese, etc.) the concentration is often the key in determining what is a natural component of water, and what is a contaminant. High concentrations of naturally occurring substances can have negative impacts on aquatic flora and fauna.

1. Pathogen is a microbe or microorganism such as a virus, bacterium, or fungus that causes disease. High levels of pathogens may result from inadequately treated sewage discharges that . This can be caused by a sewage plant designed with less than secondary treatment (a design that substantially degrades the biological content of the sewage which are derived from human waste, food waste, soaps and detergent).
Pathogen discharges may also be caused by poorly managed livestock operations.

2. Chemicals and other contaminants


Contaminants may include organic and inorganic substances: Organic water pollutants include: Petroleum hydrocarbons, including fuels (gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuels, and fuel oil) and lubricants (motor oil), and fuel combustion byproducts, from storm water runoff Tree and bush debris from logging operations Volatile organic compounds (VOCs), such as industrial solvents, from improper storage. Chlorinated solvents, which are dense non-aqueous phase liquids (DNAPLs), may fall to the bottom of reservoirs, since they don't mix well with water and are denser. Polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs) Trichloroethylene Perchlorate Various chemical compounds found in personal hygiene and cosmetic products.

Inorganic water pollutants include: Acidity caused by industrial discharges (especially sulfur dioxide from power plants) Ammonia from food processing waste Chemical waste as industrial by-products Fertilizers containing nutrients--nitrates and phosphateswhich are found in storm water runoff from agriculture, as well as commercial and residential use Heavy metals from motor vehicles (via urban storm water runoff) and acid mine drainage Silt (sediment) in runoff from construction sites, logging, slash and burn practices or land clearing sites.

Macroscopic pollutionlarge visible items polluting the watermay be termed "floatables" in an urban storm water context, or marine debris when found on the open seas, and can include items such as: Trash or garbage (e.g. paper, plastic, or food waste) discarded by people on the ground, along with accidental or intentional dumping of rubbish, that are washed by rainfall into storm drains and eventually discharged into surface waters Nurdles, small waterborne plastic materials Shipwrecks

3. Thermal Pollution Thermal pollution is the rise or fall in the temperature of a natural body of water caused by human influence. Thermal pollution, unlike chemical pollution, results in a change in the physical properties of water. A common cause of thermal pollution is the use of water as a coolant by power plants and industrial manufacturers. Elevated water temperatures decreases oxygen levels (which can kill fish) and affects ecosystem composition, such as invasion of thermopiles (an organism that thrives at relatively high temperatures). Urban runoff may also elevate temperature in surface waters. Thermal pollution can also be caused by the release of very cold water from the base of reservoirs into warmer rivers.

Effect of Water Pollution to Human Health Increased incidence of tumors, ulcers due to nitrate pollution. Increased incidence of skin disorders due to contact with pollutants. Increased incidence of constipation, diarrhea and infections to intestine. Dangerous effects on growing fetus in pregnant women. Concentration of pollutants due to bioaccumulative pesticides. through secondary and tertiary food chain in case of non - vegetarians. Still births, abortions and birth of deformed children. 'Blue baby' disease caused by methane globinemia - which results in asphyxia (reduced O2 supply). Reduced activity of immune system. Loss of memory power and reduced mental sharpness. Water borne diseases like jaundice, hepatitis, gasteroenteritis will be more prevalent due to water pollution. Reduced bone development and muscular development. Reduced male fertility. Shifts in physiological cycles of human body.

Preventive measures Water-borne epidemics and health hazards in the aquatic environment are mainly due to improper management of water resources. Proper management of water resources has become the need of the hour as this would ultimately lead to a cleaner and healthier environment. In order to prevent the spread of water-borne infectious diseases, people should take adequate precautions. The city water supply should be properly checked and necessary steps taken to disinfect it. Water pipes should be regularly checked for leaks and cracks. At home, the water should be boiled, filtered, or other methods and necessary steps taken to ensure that it is free from infection. Effect of Water Pollution on Animals Large scale death of aquatic and terrestrial animals Reduced reproduction rate Increased incidence of diseases Imbalances created in secondary food chains Accumulation of bioaccumulative and non-biodegradable pollutants in animal bodies. Some organochlorine pesticides (like DDT, BHC, Endrin) are known for bioaccumulative and biomagnifiable characters. Bioaccumulation - is a concept wherein pesticides are not subjected to disintegration and excretion from animal/human body. Biomagnification process where pollutants pass through the food chain and food web. While passing through the organisms, the concentration of pollutants gets increased.

Effect of Water Pollution on the Ecosystem Heavy metals from industrial processes can accumulate in nearby lakes and rivers. These are toxic to marine life such as fish and shellfish, and can affect the rest of the food chain. This means that entire animal communities can be badly affected by this type of pollutant. Industrial waste often contains many toxic compounds that damage the health of aquatic animals and those who eat them. Some toxins affect the reproductive success of marine life and can therefore disrupt the community structure of an aquatic environment. Microbial pollutants from sewage often result in infectious diseases that infect aquatic life and terrestrial life through drinking water. This often increases the number of mortalities seen within an environment. Organic matter and nutrients causes an increase in aerobic algae and depletes oxygen from the water column. This is called eutrophication and causes the suffocation of fish and other aquatic organisms. Sulfate particles from acid rain change the pH of water making it more acidic, this damages the health of marine life in the rivers and lakes it contaminates, and often increases the number of mortalities within an environment. Suspended particles can often reduce the amount of sunlight penetrating the water, disrupting the growth of photosynthetic plants and micro-organisms. This has subsequent effects on the rest of the aquatic community that depend on these organisms to survive.

Water Management Hierarchy Water Pollution Prevention

Domestic sewage In urban areas, domestic sewage is typically treated by centralized sewage treatment plants. Municipal treatment plants are designed to control conventional pollutants. 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. 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 storm water management capacity throughout the system, and reduce the hydraulic overloading of the treatment plant repair and replacement of leaking and malfunctioning equipment increasing overall hydraulic capacity of the sewage collection system (often a very expensive option).

A household or business not served by a municipal treatment plant may have an individual septic tank, which treats the wastewater on site and discharges into the soil. Alternatively, domestic wastewater may be sent to a nearby privately owned treatment system (e.g. in a rural community). Industrial wastewater Some industrial facilities generate ordinary domestic sewage that can be treated by municipal facilities. Industries that generate wastewater with high concentrations of conventional pollutants (e.g. oil and grease), toxic pollutants (e.g. heavy metals, volatile organic compounds) or other nonconventional pollutants such as ammonia, need specialized treatment systems. Some of these facilities can install a pre-treatment system to remove the toxic components, and then send the partially treated wastewater to the municipal system. Industries generating large volumes of wastewater typically operate their own complete on-site treatment systems. Some industries have been successful at redesigning their manufacturing processes to reduce or eliminate pollutants Agricultural wastewater Nonpoint source controls Sediment (loose soil) washed off from fields is the largest source of agricultural pollution in the United States. 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. 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. Farmers can develop and implement nutrient management plans to reduce excess application of nutrients. 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. Point source wastewater treatment Farms with large livestock and poultry operations, such as factory farms, are called concentrated animal feeding operations or feedlots in the US and are being subject to increasing government regulation. Animal slurries are usually treated by containment in anaerobic lagoons before disposal by spray or trickle application to grassland. Constructed wetlands are sometimes used to facilitate treatment of animal wastes. Some animal slurry are treated by mixing with straw and composted at high temperature to produce a bacteriologically sterile and friable manure for soil improvement.

Urban runoff Effective control of urban runoff involves reducing the velocity and flow of storm water, as well as reducing pollutant discharges. Pollution prevention practices include low-impact development techniques, installation of green roofs and improved chemical handling (e.g. management of motor fuels & oil, fertilizers and pesticides). Runoff mitigation systems include infiltration basins, bioretention systems, constructed wetlands, retention basins and similar devices. Thermal pollution from runoff can be controlled by storm water management facilities that absorb the runoff or direct it into groundwater, such as bioretention systems and infiltration basins. Retention basins tend to be less effective at reducing temperature, as the water may be heated by the sun before being discharged to a receiving stream.

Construction Site Storm Water Sediment from construction sites is managed by installation of: erosion controls, such as mulching and hydroseeding, and sediment controls, such as sediment basins and silt fences. Discharge of toxic chemicals such as motor fuels and concrete washout is prevented by use of: spill prevention and control plans, and specially designed containers (e.g. for concrete washout) and structures such as overflow controls.

Water Reuse/Recycle Wastewater reuse can be applied for various beneficial purposes such as agricultural irrigation, industrial processes, groundwater recharge, and even for potable water supply after extended treatment. To ensure sustainable and successful wastewater reuse applications, the following requirements must be fulfilled: The potential public health risk associated with wastewater reuse are evaluated and minimized; The specific water reuse applications meet the water quality objectives. In order to meet the requirements, it is necessary to treat the wastewater prior to reuse applications, and ensure an appropriate level of disinfection to control pathogens. ]

As shown in Table 4, wastewater reuse may be applied in agriculture, industry, groundwater recharge, and urban usage, including landscape irrigation and fire protection. Wastewater reuse can be adopted to meet the water demand in different fields and contribute to the conservation of freshwater resources.

Wastewater Treatment Wastewater treatment is the process of removing contaminants from wastewater and household sewage, both runoff (effluents) and domestic. It includes physical, chemical, and biological processes to remove physical, chemical and biological contaminants. Its objective is to produce an environmentally-safe fluid waste stream (or treated effluent) and a solid waste (or treated sludge) suitable for disposal or reuse (usually as farm fertilizer).

Sewage can be treated close to where it is created, a decentralized system (in septic tanks, biofilters or aerobic treatment systems), or be collected and transported via a network of pipes and pump stations to a municipal treatment plant, a centralized system

(see sewerage and pipes and infrastructure). Sewage collection and treatment is typically subject to local, state and federal regulations and standards. Industrial sources of wastewater often require specialized treatment processes. Sewage treatment generally involves three stages, called primary, secondary and tertiary treatment. Primary treatment consists of temporarily holding the sewage in a quiescent basin where heavy solids can settle to the bottom while oil, grease and lighter solids float to the surface. The settled and floating materials are removed and the remaining liquid may be discharged or subjected to secondary treatment. Secondary treatment removes dissolved and suspended biological matter. Secondary treatment is typically performed by indigenous, water-borne micro-organisms in a managed habitat. Secondary treatment may require a separation process to remove the micro-organisms from the treated water prior to discharge or tertiary treatment. Tertiary treatment is sometimes defined as anything more than primary and secondary treatment in order to allow rejection into a highly sensitive or fragile ecosystem (estuaries, low-flow rivers, coral reefs,...). Treated water is sometimes disinfected chemically or physically (for example, by lagoons and microfiltration) prior to discharge into a stream, river, bay, lagoon or wetland, or it can be used for the irrigation of a golf course, green way or park. If it is sufficiently clean, it can also be used for groundwater recharge or agricultural purposes. Wastewater Treatment Process