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    The Different Types of Water Pollution and the Solutions to the Problem

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    Water pollution has been a big problem decades ago. The general types of water pollution are surface water and groundwater pollution which are the greatest threats and causes the most damage to the environment, after air pollution.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) The most dangerous incidents involve spills of chemicals or fuels into the water systems which can affect mammals. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) Examples include the Santa Barbara Oil Spill and water pollution in the Great Lakes.

    Water pollution is a severe problem that goes unnoticeable. There are approximately 11,750 water pollution incidents reported in the United States every year, an average of 1,600 gallons each, a total pollutant load of 18.6 million gallons annually. (Encyclopedia of Environmental Studies) The cost of water pollution limitations in the U.S for all types of pollution concludes to about $10 billion yearly.(Encyclopedia of Environmental Studies) Surface water endures no mechanical filtering which is the removal of debris from water. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) The input must rely on degradation by microorganisms, aeration, and exposure to sunlight. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) Some pollutants break down under these conditions, some are unharmed. (Encyclopedia of Pollution)

    A way surface water can be polluted is from large-volume spills which has high concentration chemicals such as a type of fuel.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) Sometimes the natural system can be extremely harmed by the spills, it can result to ecological damage. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) These high concentration chemicals usually are less dense than water, thus floats to the surface causing damage. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) Chemicals that are more dense than water sink to the bottom causing damage to the bottom sediments and organisms. (Encyclopedia of Pollution)

    Also, surface water is polluted accidentally and intentionally(Encyclopedia of Pollution) on an everyday basis. Most pollution is from surface runoff which consists of chemicals such as gasoline, pesticides and herbicides, and fertilizers.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) These pollutants can be transported in liquid form or carried in suspension as particulate. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) In other words, they are particles dispersed through the bulk of a fluid.

    Indeed, most heavy metal inorganic pollutants are worn away from soil and transported as particles in suspension within surface water and some organic compounds attach to particles in soil and also carried in suspension to water systems. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) Both pollutants settle at the bottom sediments which can be degraded by microorganisms if the chemical is not toxic to them. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) However, soluble compounds dissolve in water and remain in that form until they are degraded. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) Degradation in geology is the wearing down of rock by the loss of strength.

    Groundwater pollution is the result of leaking sources which is the result of human activities.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) Groundwater pollution is usually dissolved into the groundwater and contained within rock or soil. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) The water combined with the particles tend to dilute the pollutant to lower concentrations than what is found in surface water.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) Chemicals in groundwater that are less denser than water float atop and remained concentrated, whereas chemicals in groundwater that are more dense than water become diluted easily.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) It’s considered normal for groundwater pollution even though most people blame humans. (Encyclopedia of Pollution)

    The natural source of groundwater pollution is mining that may contain high concentration of metals so the groundwater in the area will be enriched. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) If the elements are heavy metals, the groundwater can be hazardous.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) However, most heavy metals are not water-soluble and usually immobile unless the groundwater is acidic.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) Some examples of groundwater pollution are landfills and buried waste.(Encyclopedia of Pollution)

    Furthermore, the release of pollutants can be divided into large volume spills and long-term low-volume releases. Large-volume spills are the most common and they are the most devastating. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) Most surface water pollution is the result of low-volume releases over a long period of time. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) It usually isn’t a problem since it’s so minor, but if the pollutants aren’t absorbed by the system or biodegraded than it becomes a problem. An oil spill is the most harmful factor of water pollution because it involves human and wildlife. (Encyclopedia of Pollution) For example, the 1969 Santa Barbara, California spill changed the perspectives of the people toward the environment while wildlife was covered in oil on live television.(Encyclopedia of Pollution)

    However, Santa Barbara was a small spill compared to the 1979 spill of the Gulf of Mexico. This particular spill released more than 3 million barrels (140 million gallons) into the Gulf of Mexico compared to the Santa Barbara spill which is only 3 million gallons of oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) The Gulf of Mexico spill was the greatest environmental disaster in US history. (Encyclopedia of Pollution)

    In fact, water pollution has been around for decades. An example is the Early Great Lakes Pollution. People believed that the enormous amount of water in the lakes would dilute any substance, however, most pollutants that enter the lakes accumulate. (History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes) First, sewages brought stench and disease but later on industrial wastes grew in volume and became a problem. (History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes) Polluted water, buried ecosystems which made it hard for aquatic animals to breath. (History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes)

    Chemical fertilizers and detergents drowned the lakes with excess nutrients(History of Water pollution in the Great Lakes) which results in eutrophication. Eutrophication is the excess in nutrients in a lake or body of water, usually from a runoff from land, which causes deaths of animals and plant life. Regarding eutrophication, Lake Erie was intensely polluted that it was declared “dead” from nutrient overload and toxic chemicals in the 1960s. (History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes) The lake was covered with decaying plant matter, detergent studs, and dead fish. (History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes)

    The solution to this is the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement which was compromised by Canada and the United States.(History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes) They agreed to regulate phosphorus runoff and encourage water quality research and monitoring.(History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes) After two years passed, only half as much phosphate entered Lake Erie.(History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes) After, the color of the water turned from murky green, to clear blue. (History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes)

    As time passes, Canada and the United States made another agreement to monitor the Great Lakes ecosystem by reducing phosphorus in 1978.(History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes) All the regulations that were made to the lakes changed the quality of water. Since the early 1970s, almost all industrial plants that polluted the lakes and streams have been equipped to reduce toxic discharge. (History of Water Pollution in the Great Lakes)

    The general types of water pollution are surface water and groundwater pollution which are the greatest threats and causes the most damage to the environment, after air pollution.(Encyclopedia of Pollution) Surface water pollution is the type of pollution that still occurs today, from the runoffs and spills of dangerous chemicals, to pieces of trash on the water. Although water pollution has been one of the worst environmental disasters in the past such as the Santa Barbara oil spill and the spill of the Gulf of Mexico, it was at least monitored and regulated.

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