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Geography 344 Water Pollution

Geography 344 Water Pollution

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Published by MaropeneRamusi

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Published by: MaropeneRamusi on Nov 12, 2008
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02/14/2011

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 Ramusi Maropene 14953641
Abstract
Pollution is an unwelcome concentration of substances that are beyond the environment’s capacity tohandle. All these substances are dangerous and toxic to people and all other living organisms. Pollution canoccur naturally (volcanic eruptions) or as result of human activity (burning coal). It is caused mainly byhuman activity (the discharge of domestic, agricultural and industrial waste, application of pesticides byfarmers, gas emissions into the atmosphere and leaks of radioactive materials). This all leads to water  pollution.
Introduction
Pollution levels have increased so much in amount and toxicity globally that the levels are no longer accepted. In South Africa, one of the never declining levels of pollution is on water. Water pollution is thecontamination of water systems and storages like dams, rivers, lakes and oceans caused by humanactivities. It affects many people in South Africa, especially the poor communities with smallmunicipalities. This in turn is harmful to aquatic plants and animals. The amount and toxicity has beenincreasing together with increasing human population and continuously improving technology. Water  pollution is now worse than 17-years ago and it is so expensive and almost impossible to control.
Discussion
When toxic substances enter dams, rivers and other water bodies, they either dissolve or lie suspended inwater. This results in water pollution whereby the water quality deteriorates. Pollutants can also seep downinto the soil and affect the groundwater deposits.Due to the ever growing population in South Africa, more houses are needed meaning more toilets and bathrooms and so sewage generated from the urban areas has multiplied over the years. The problem todayis that the sanitary sewage is deposited in wrong places. These domestic sewages (wastewater that isdeposited from households) carry a wide variety of dissolved and suspended impurities. The main organicmaterials from sewages are faeces, chemical soaps and washing powders. In the past people used soapsmade from animal and vegetable fat (Dr Bronner’s soap) for all types of washing .But most of today’scleaning agents are synthetic and come from petrochemical industries. Most of these detergents andwashing powders contain phosphates used to soften the water among other things. Phosphates and other chemicals in washing powders affect the health of all forms of life in the water.Domestic sewage is very likely to contain disease-causing microbes. In the Kwazulu Natal, drinking water contaminated with bacteria causing cholera affects most of the rural communities. In Mpumalanga, bacteria causing typhoid caused the government to do some hard work on the community’s drinking water.Municipal refuse dumps also add on to water pollution. Urban areas need these municipal landfills asresidents cannot burn or store their garbage in their back yards as in rural areas. With increasing populationin South Africa and people moving to urban areas in large numbers, more refuse dumps need to be erected.Cape Town municipality has six refuse dumps. Out of the six Swartklip, Brackenfell and Faure are at present full. Visseshok, Bellville South and Coastal Park are in operation and statistically, will reachcapacity in the next five to thirteen years.All kinds of waste are dumped, liquid and solid. Leaching of contaminants into groundwater causes problems and methane gas generation. The leaching is caused by water and liquids already in the waste, precipitation and liquid by-products of microbial action during aerobic degradation of waste.1
 
 Ramusi Maropene 14953641
Water passes through the waste picking up all the soluble contaminants of the decaying waste. Leachingleaves the waste contaminating either groundwater or surface water. This leaching contaminated water carries the toxic materials to the water sources used for human activity. Another factor that is contributing to water pollution is agricultural waste or agricultural run-off. The wayin which a farmer uses his land for agriculture and cultivation greatly affects the quality of ground water,lakes, rivers and dams. During intensive cultivation, chemicals from fertilizers like nitrate, potassium and phosphorus, leach into the groundwater. As more and more applications of fertilizers and pesticides occur,the more microelements (N, K, and P) leach into the ground water therefore causing water pollution.The high nitrate concentration in groundwater is mainly from irrigation leaching from agricultural areaswhere fertilizers are used indiscriminately.The problem is that more and more farms are erected all over South Africa because of food shortagesmeaning, for better production agricultural precautions need to be taken into consideration. Fertilizers areused to improve production and quality of crops and pesticides are used to keep away all the unwanted pests that can attack the crops.Some dams tend to have high concentration of this microelements affecting causing water pollutionaffecting water for domestic use.Most strong and effective pesticides were banned from the market. In the past DDT was used to controlmalaria in many countries and pests in agriculture. Now it was banned because it causes problems that arefar more serious. It is transferred in the food chain from insects to birds to fish and to mammals, occupyingthe fatty tissue. It also affects the humans via the crops affected. When pesticides get to the rivers or dams,they affect the aquatic organisms very badly. Some fish end up producing soft eggs.Since post apartheid, the number of industries has grown rapidly boosting the employment rate in SouthAfrica. The waste water from industries usually contains specific chemical compounds that can be veryharmful to living organisms. Therefore, waste water from industries contributes to water pollution. Most of these defaulting industries are chemical industries, distillers, leather processing industries and thermal power stations.All the waste water ends up in the rivers, which in turn is a bad effect on aquatic organisms and other terrestrial organisms that depend on the water. For instance, AECI Midlands plant outside Sasolburgdiscards mercury that flows into the Vaal River.When all this waste domestic sewerages, industrial waste, municipal refuse dumps and agricultural wasteend up in a water body, a major problem occurs. A process called eutrophication occurs. Eutrophication isthe process which occurs when the nutrient concentration in river or dam or lake increases resulting in thestimulation of algal growth which has significant effects on the aquatic ecosystems. Important dams inSouth Africa are at high risk of eutrophication. The Hartebeespoort dam, one of the major recreational andtourist attraction centres in the North West Province is at present, the most polluted dam in the province.This is due to the pollution load moving from the Juskei River through the Crocodile River, mainly fromthe Gauteng areas.An extending fair of algae growth frequently occurred in the Hartebeespoort dam over the years and is stillcontinuing now at a higher rate because of the increasing water pollution. Eutrophication process isresponsible for the blue-green algae in the Hartebeespoort dam.All the nutrients and chemicals from industrial waste, domestic waste, refuse dumps and agriculturalleached microelements end up in the dam. Microelements (nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus) andchemicals run-off from land into the water adding nutrients to the water. Excess nutrients cause the dam to be chocked with organic matter and organisms. The nutrients stimulate the algae to blossom all over (anaerobically) using up all the oxygen in the water. When algae blossoms, on the water surface, the sun2
 
 Ramusi Maropene 14953641
cannot penetrate the water and aerobic aquatic organism die as they cannot photosynthesise. Some aerobicorganisms attack the organic waste releasing gases such as methane and hydrogen sulphide which isharmful the aerobic organisms.When the organic matter exceeds the capacity of micro-organisms in water that break down and recycle theorganic matter, it encourages the rapid growth of algae. When the algae dies, its remains add up to theorganic waste already in the water and eventually the water becomes deficient in oxygen. Eutrophicationwill eventually lead to the dearth of all forms of life in the Hartebeespoort dam.
Solutions for water pollution
Dams used for water storage have to be built in higher altitude places and away from residentialareas. This will stop the run-off of leached waste water from industries, leached fertilizers fromfarms and sewage water into the dams.
Promote the use of natural, environmentally sensitive methods of pest control such as intercroppingand using natural predators and pests.
A buffer strip of aquatic, nutrient loving plants should be planted around rivers, lakes, or dams usedto store water for important use. These plants will stop heavy sediments and absorb other nutrientsand minerals before they enter the water.
Municipal refuse dumps should be placed away from water resources and placed at very dry placeswhere leaching of the wastes contaminants does not reach surface water or easily absorbed into thesoil reaching the groundwater.In general, South Africa has a limited supply of water and the quality of this water is being threatened by pollution. Water is in great demand, and as the human population grows with its increasing needs of survival, the greater demand for water becomes. People in South Africa need have the utmost respect for water and life, use water carefully, not waste it, and take action to solve any water problems.
The future
In order to respond to the continuing deterioration of water quality and to meet the challenges of the future,the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry has come up a Receiving Water Quality Objectives approachconsisting of a planned approach for non-hazardous substances and a pollution minimisation and prevention approach for hazardous substances. In order to counter the limitations of this approach, a precaution approach was accepted to prevent danger and minimise uncertainty and potential risk of undesirable impacts on the environment.Therefore, this clearly looks good for the future of South Africa in terms of water pollution conditions.Decisions are also made concerning water quality management in terms of a hierarchy of principles, whichis specifically aimed at linking together the protection, use and development of water resources.
References
Cape Town Local Government Services (
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry
(What is meant by water quality)http://www.dwaf.gov.za/Dir_WQM.wqm.htm
Rand Water 
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Jamie da Graca added this note
yes this article is the full truth truth about people living in rural areas and therefore I find it blistering to know about the high levels of pollution and about all the people and young kids dying its a shame and bu the way nice article FROM:TONI DA GRACA(13) JAMIES COUSIN

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