In Part I of this series the following questions were asked:
- What is the environment?
- What do we include in “indoor environments”?
- What do you see as part of your “outdoor environment”?
- What makes an environment “Green”?
- How can you, as a kid, help to protect the planet?
In Part II, we continued with the following questions:
- What is atmosphere?
- Does our atmosphere have different “levels”?
- Why is The Ozone layer important?
- Are all Ozone Gases good?
Hopefully you read these articles to learn the answers to these questions!
So let’s take a quick look at water pollution. Clean water is a necessity of life. And, water covers more than half of the earth’s surface, but much of that water is “seawater”! Seawater is also referred to as salt water and is not used for human consumption. Freshwater is found in lakes, rivers and underground areas called aquifers – this is the water used by human for drinking, washing clothes and bathing our bodies. This is the water that we need to preserve as clean and useable.
What are two types of water pollution sources?
Water pollutants enter the water system as “Point Source” or “Non-Point Source” pollution. Point Source pollutants are things such as oil tanker or oil rig spillage (such as the BP Rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010) or from drainpipe leakage of sewage. Non-Point Source (NPS) pollutants come from different sources; this makes them very hard to control.
NPS pollution can result from uncontrolled rain rain-off which ends up in our lakes, rivers, and streams – polluting them! As the water runs-off, it picks up such things as oil, grease, animal and human waste products, and chemicals from industry, agriculture or your own backyard. NPS pollution is also a result of rain washing off of the chemicals used to treat or pre-treat the roads when we experience snow and ice.
How can we help to reduce these types of pollutants?
Keeping oil tankers, oil rigs, and drainpipes in good repair is a very option for avoiding Point Source pollution. In Baltimore, the water treatment plants at Loch Raven and Montebello Water Treatment Centers constantly check and repair the pipes and pumps that control our public water system, insuring that water coming into our homes is clean, health water for human use. Their emergency response system for any type of leak, such as sewage leaks or chemical spills, insures that the public is warned of any dangerous pollutants in the water system and what actions are taken to insure clean-up of the situation.
In terms of Non-Point Source (NPS) pollution, it is man-made and thus the controls needed to eliminate or reduce these pollutants must come from a man-made plan of action. There are laws in place that restrict the amount of pollution various industries are allowed to release into the atmosphere and into the water surrounding them. In some cases, environmentalists feel these laws are not strict enough and in some cases the laws are not enforced. Case in point is the severely uncontrolled pollution situation at the Bethlehem Steel Plant at Sparrows Point where pollutants were released into the local waters for several decades without EPA enforcement of the laws. The plants new owners are now faced with a lawsuit to clean up the damage.
Agricultural businesses also face strict regulations for what types and amount of fertilizer is used. Similar restrictions apply to residential use, especially when property is classified as waterfront or water community. The Chesapeake Bay “Conservation of the Bay” laws were passed by the Maryland General Assembly in a major effort to preserve the Bay, its economic impact on Marylanders, but also to protect the aquifers that feed our lakes, rivers, streams AND the Chesapeake Bay!
News reports today (2/22/2011) have been highlighting decisions made by government officials regarding pre-treating road surfaces. The reporters, talking about Baltimore’s 4″ snowfall, have been repeating the fact that the road surfaces were not pre-treated as the snowstorm approached. It has been pointed out the environmental concerns as well as budgetary concerns that have been considered by our state and local officials. WJZ TV news anchors, specifically, have been reminding listeners that since the storm began as a rain event, it was prudent not to spread road pretreatment brine since the rain would simply wash it away and nothing would remain on the roads to be effective in preventing slippery, icy conditions. Along with the cost of wasting the pretreatments, the negative environmental impact to the Bay has also been identified letting listeners know the importance of these decisions.
This is just the tip of the iceberg, as clichés go. There is much more to the problem of water pollution and to the remedies needed to protect and preserve our clean, healthy ‘for-human-consumption’ water sources!
Are there things you can do to lessen water pollution in our immediate area, including your own yard?
Is there a local environmental group where you could volunteer?
Do you know what types of events these groups conduct, e.g., shoreline clean-up or tree plantings sponsored by the Back River Restoration Committee; or, the mnthly roadside clean-up held by the Holly Neck Conservation Association?
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Note: This author also writes “Cancer-in-baltimore” and “Soldiers-abroad-in-baltimore” columns on glowbass.com. Feel free to browse those articles.