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Water Pollution Overview

Water Pollution Overview

Water Pollution Overview

Water Pollution Overview

Water Pollution Overview

Water Pollution Overview
Water Pollution Overview

Acid Mine
Water Pollution Overview
Unsafe drinking
water and disease
Water Pollution Overview
Erosion and sediment deposition
Water Pollution Overview
Oil Spills
What is water pollution?
• Any physical, biological or chemical
change in water quality that adversely
affects living organisms or makes the water
unsuitable for desired uses
• Review:
– point sources
– nonpoint sources
• Make sure you know examples of these!
Types of Water Pollution
(fresh water mainly)
• Infectious agents
• Oxygen demanding wastes
• Plant nutrients and Eutrophication
• Toxic inorganic materials
• Organic chemicals
• Sediment and suspended solids
• Thermal pollution/ thermal shock
1. Infectious Agents
Safe to Swim?
Infectious Agents
• Most serious water pollutants in terms of human
• Ex. typhoid, cholera, dysentery, polio, hepatitis
• 25,000,000 deaths each year (2/3 of child deaths,
80% of sickness in developing countries)
• Comes from untreated human wastes and animal
• 2.5 billion people lack sanitation (more lack clean
How to test for unsafe water
• Water that is unsafe to drink usually has
many types of bacteria in it.
• Instead of testing for all types, usually the
common coliform bacteria is measured
• one colony of bacteria per 100ml is
considered unsafe to drink by WHO
• 200 colonies per 100 ml is considered
unsafe to swim by EPA standards.
2. Oxygen-demanding Wastes
Oxygen-demanding Wastes
• Healthy water has a high level of dissolved oxygen
(> 8ppm)
• Oxygen-poor water (<2ppm) only supports
• Oxygen is added to the water by diffusion from air
(affect of temperature) and photosynthesis
• Oxygen is removed by respirati on of plants and
• The addition of sewage and wastes stimulates
oxygen consumption by detritivores
Measuring Oxygen Content
• BOD: Biological Oxygen Demand
– this measures the demand for oxygen that the
detritivores place on the system
– how much O2 is used by organisms over a 5
day period
• DO: Dissolved oxygen content
– how much oxygen is dissolved in the water
– is affected by temperature and aeration
Water Quality: DO
“Oxygen Sag”
•The oxygen sag is the pattern of dissolved
oxygen in a stream that is being dumped into
•The pattern of organisms is determined by the
DO content
•Know the different types of organisms and
where they occur
•The length of the oxygen sag will depend upon
how fast the stream is flowing, and how turbid
it is
Oxygen Sag cont.
3. Plant Nutrients and Eutrophication

• Water ecosystems (lakes) are usually

limited by the amount of nutrients in them.
• Over succession, lakes gradually increase in
nutrients and productivity
• Humans artificially increase the amount of
nutrients in lakes through fertilizers, run-off
• The increase in nutrients leads to a series of
stems culminating in eutrophication
Steps of Eutrophication
• Nutrients are added to water
• Increase in nutrients cause an algae bloom
• As the algae bloom progresses, the algae
begin to die, and organic material accumulates
on the bottom of the lake
• This material supports a boom in the
decomposer populations
• The decomposers rapidly rob the lake of its
oxygen, suffocating most other organisms in
the process
What Eutrophication Looks Like
4. Toxic Inorganic materials
Toxic Inorganic materials
• Heavy metals:
– mercury, lead, cadmium and nickel
– lead pipes
– gold mining
– mining wastes, mine drainage
– tin on boat bottoms
Nonmetallic salts
• Occurs in desert soils
• As water evaporates, high levels of toxins
are left behind
• Also from road runoff
• ex. selenium and arsenic
• also table salt in very high concentrations
• ex. Salton Sea
Acids and Bases
• Produced during leather tanning, metal
smelting, plating, petroleum distillation and
organic chemical formation
• Coal mining produced sulfuric acid
• Acid rain (HNO3 and H2SO4)
5. Organic Chemicals
Organic Chemicals
• Pesticides, oils, plastics, pharmaceuticals,
pigments, detergents, cleaning solutions,
and paints
• DDT, etc.
• Stringfellow Site
6. Sediment and suspended solids
Sediment and suspended solids
• Largest pollutant by volume in most parts of
• Erosion has increased sediment levels
• 25 billion metric tons of topsoil from runoff
and erosion
• 50 billion from grazing, construction etc.
• fills reservoirs, fills shipping channels, less
suitable for life, recreation
• Small levels of sediment are good
How sediments can be harmful
7. Thermal Pollution
Thermal Pollution
• Raising or lowering temperature from
normal levels
• Water temps are usually stable so organisms
are poorly adapted to rapid change
• oxygen solubility decreases as temperature
• most happens in industrial cooling
• can be good for raising species that
wouldn’t be there otherwise
• but can be harmful--> manatees
Groundwater pollution
Relative Polluters of Rivers
Types of Ocean Pollution
• 1. Red tides
• Storms bring nutrient-rich runoff to the oceans
• these nutrients cause a bloom in phytoplankton in
the oceans
Types of Ocean Pollution
• 2. trash
Types of Ocean Pollution

3. Oil
Oil spills have occurred in most of the shipping
lanes in the world (as of 1985)
Large effects on sea surface critters
Spain - 2003
Types of Ocean Pollution
• 4. Sewer waste/runoff
• many countries of the world (inc. U.S.)
dump their waste into ocean
• results in diseases, abnormalities in
Water Pollution Solutions
Water Pollution Solutions
• Ban or regulate phosphate detergents
– advanced water treatment to remove them
• Control agricultural runoff
– revegetation, wetlands, riparian, reduce water runs off of
farms, reclaim water
• Control urban runoff
– golf courses, lawns, pets etc.; reduce use
• Control sediments and acids from mines
– revegetation and sediment traps (ponds)
• Control streambank erosion and protect wetlands
– protect and revegetate
How is human waste controlled?
• Municipal Treatment
– Primary
– Secondary
– (Tertiary)
• Private Treatment
– septic tanks
Treatment of Human Waste
• Primary treatment: taking out solids
– grating (removes debris)
– moving screen (takes out smaller pieces)
– grit tank (sand and gravel settle)
– primary sedimentation tank (sludge settles)
Treatment of Human Waste
• Secondary treatment: biological degradation
– aeration tank (or filter bed, sewage lagoon)
– fluid is mixed with a bacteria rich slurry
– air is pumped in which promotes bacterial growth
– bacteria and sludge is removed off the bottom
(some is returned to inoculate the aeration tanks)
– water is sometimes chlorinated to kill bacteria,
then released
Treatment of Human Waste
• Tertiary Treatment: removal of plant nutrients
– removal of nitrates, phosphates and other
nutrients which can cause algal blooms
– this is accomplished by passage through a wetland
or lagoon

• Sewage treatment works well except:

– water in storm drains gets no treatment
– during storms, raw sewage is dumped
– treated water still has environmental effects
Septic Tanks
• A house-by-house alternative to sewer
• Water is pumped into a tank
– oils rise to top, solids to bottom
– middle water is pumped into a series of pipes
where it can evaporate and be worked on by
• Works well if maintained, but can leak into
ground water
Clean Water Acts
• Federal Water Pollution Control Act
– Clean Water Act of 1972 (amended 1977)
– goal was to make all U.S. surface waters safe
for fishing and swimming by 1983 and restores
and maintain the chemical, physical and
biological integrity of the nations waters
– established controls for each major type of
– provides billions of dollars for sewage
treatment plants
Clean Water Acts
• Safe Drinking Water Act 1974
– established minimum safe levels for drinking
• Superfund established 1980
• Water Quality Act 1987
– established a national policy for nonpoint
sources of pollution
• 1995 - discharges trading policy established
Is the legislation working? Some
good news
• Between 1972 and 1992 the amount of rivers
and lakes that are fishable and swimable has
increased from 36% to 62%
• Average phosphorous levels have dropped
from .12ppm to .079ppm
• DDT has dropped from 1.2ppm to .196ppm
• But, 44% of lakes, 37% of rivers and 32% of
estuaries are unsafe for fishing and swimming
so there is more to do.