River Pollution

Published: 2019-08-29 08:00:00
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It is surprising that we often fail to realize some important aspects of our environment until significant or even irreversible damage has been done. Most of the environmental problems have easy solutions which are much cheaper yet practical when compared to the huge costs incurred to reverse some adverse outcomes whose results are sometimes insignificant. The 1960s conflict between Israel and Palestine is a good example that highlights the importance of natural resources and their sustainability. Both countries made attempts to divert some rivers towards their territories; the outcome has been a long-term political tension that has incorporated other factors over time (Harper).

Rivers provides fresh water which is an integral natural resource that humanity cannot survive without. Freshwater supplies water used in households, supports agriculture through irrigation, manufacturing as well as supports a considerable percentage of biodiversity. Therefore, cutting the water sources affects all the activities that define life thus supporting the old notion that states that water is equated to life. Although we understand the importance of this essential resources, a good proportion of the population is often blinded by short term benefits which arise from the misuse of water. For instance, a corporate that contributes significantly to a given country while discharging chemical wastes into the rivers might not be attacked by the authorities. People seem more concerned with the revenues which only offers temporal solutions while destroying nature which is the foundation of all the resources that are required by multiple generations.

Despite the availability of vast information concerning the incomparable importance of rivers, a significant percentage of the population still think that they cannot get affected by water shortage problem. There is a tendency of people believing that only people living in arid and semi-arid places should be concerned with water pollution and other human activities that have coursed water shortages. Such people fail to note that environmental issues are contagious as they tend to spread over time. Miller and Spoolman have made considerable attempts in enlightening the public by basing their environmental conservation facts on the notion of sustainability. The two environmentalists believe that publics comprehension of the concept of natural resources sustainability is a major step towards nature conservation.

Miller and Spoolmans preservation theory encompasses all the environmental factors that is nature and its resources, artificial resources as well as the human activities that can influence the environment. Statistics indicate that only about 2.5 percent of the global water is fresh. However, a significant percent is unavailable as it is either locked up in ice and lakes. Thus only leaving 0.49 percent found in rivers as the main supply of fresh water (Perlman). Such a percentage cannot sufficiently serve the ever growing global population; the situation is even made worse by the increased cases of pollution which have made a good proportional of the available fresh water unusable. This research paper will explore the various components of river pollution i.e. types of pollutants, regions with rampant river pollution, effects of river pollution and possible recommendations.


River pollution can be described as the direct or indirect introduction of pollutants which can be chemicals or physical wastes into rivers thus rendering them unsafe. Direct pollution is the intentional dumping of pollutants into streams; this is mostly done with industries as a cheaper way of waste disposal. Indirect pollution can either be intentional or unintentional; this form of pollution is often associated with negligence of the set environmental rules where people abide by a portion of the rules and ignore the rest. According to Harrison, fresh water contamination can either be determined quantitatively or qualitatively. The quantitative means involves the comparison of a number of pollutants in the river water by a set standard, in case the contaminants exceed a certain rate that water can be pronounced unsafe. The qualitative technique involves the periodic observation of the change physical characteristics of water, for example, smell and color as well as the changing biodiversity. The qualitative techniques based on the principle that a wide range of biodiversity can only survive in a limited range of the environmental variation.

River pollutants and their sources

(i) Industrial pollutants

Statistics illustrate that almost seventy percent of untreated industrial wastes are disposed into rivers in developing countries (Girard). Industrial pollutants are mostly a mixture of several chemicals that dissolve in the river water. Although some of these chemicals are non-toxic in nature, their reaction with other chemicals often makes the toxic. Since the chemicals are soluble in water, it is often impossible to reverse the situation because there is no technology that is capable of separating the water from the pollutants once the contaminants have reached certain levels. The most immediate effect of industrial contamination is the death of organisms living in such waters because the chemicals are usually poisonous. Although the government has put significant measures in place which requires industries to treat wastes before disposal, unscrupulous entrepreneurs often choose to object the policies to reduce the total business expenditure. The aftermath of such acts is the reduction of natural resources i.e. fresh water and biodiversity which are vital life necessities.

(ii) Agricultural pollution

Other than industrial pollution, agriculture is ranked the second global river pollutant. Such a position can be attributed to the wide usage of inorganic pesticides and fertilizers as well as soil sediments that result from poor farming techniques. Unlike industrial pollution whose source is often known, the determination of points at which the agricultural waste gets into the river is often impossible. Such a situation has made the containment of this form of pollution complicated because formulation and implementation of laws are often inapplicable thus calling for individual responsibilities. However, most farmers often quote both food and water are essential needs which give them the leverage of opting to choose one over the other. Ironically, people forget that the river being the provider of irrigation water or drinking water plays an incomparable role in agriculture. Several studies have linked agricultural pollutants to increased possibility of getting cancer. Therefore, reduction of river pollution by using organic fertilizers and practicing better farming techniques can prevent several permanent adverse effects (Hudda).

(iii) Acidic Rain

Other than the chemical wastes channeled in the rivers, industries also discharge poisonous particles inform of smoke. The particles condense in the moisture particles and find their way back to the surface in the form of rain. Acidic rainwater is composed various components, for example, nitrogenous elements and Sulphur dioxides. Such elements are capable of contaminating the water by varying its pH thus changing the nature of ecosystem that can support particular biodiversity. The acidic rain can also pollute rivers by reacting with heavy metals in the soil such as aluminum and discarding them into the river. The outcome is the death of organisms leaving in the rivers.

(iv) Other Pollutants

This category includes oil, household wastes and animal washing in rivers also contribute significantly to river pollution. For instance, oil always forms a layer that prevents the penetration of oxygen into water thus killing any leaving organisms. On the other hand, animal and households wastes often contain large quantities of phosphorus which affects the pH of the rivers waters rendering the ecosystem unsuitable for certain forms of biodiversity.

Effects of River Pollutions

According to WHO, almost 3000 people die annually due to water pollution (Miller & Spoolman). Such deaths are coursed by either infection from microorganisms found in polluted water or by the heavy metals which increase the chances of getting a certain disease. For instance, infections that result from viruses, bacteria, parasites and protozoa are due to household wastes such as channeling untreated sewage into the river. Since most of such infections are contagious, a greater loss of life has been witnessed in several parts. Tests carried out on the Kali river in India found that the river contained large quantities of a Variety of heavy metals such as chromium, lead and mercury. As a result, a large proportion of the population suffered neurological disorders, cancers as well as gastrointestinal diseases.

Application of Millers and Spoolmans Environmental Theory

Miller and Spoolman have emphasized that sustainability has the capacity of solving an environmental problem. The notion is based on the fact that a direct relationship exists between the problems associated with natural resources and the solutions. The approach is aimed at converting complicated environmental concepts in much simpler and applicable aspects. Miller and Spoolman believe that the solution to environmental problems can be solved through the adoption of a preservation perspective. Such an idea is applicable if every person makes environmental conservation a personal responsibility which will stop practices that can lead to any pollution. Over time, the various elements of nature will adjust back to the normal state.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Although humanity has always sought to improve lifestyle through inventions and innovations, He/She has done great damages in the process. One of the major and most prominent adverse effects of human activities is the misuse of natural resources that have resulted in great losses. Studies have indicated that lack of any appropriate initiatives to stop water pollution would result to further losses. Such assumptions can be supported by the ever increasing population and reducing the global percentage of fresh water sources. Such contrast between demand and supply means that in the next few centuries finding sufficient fresh water would be impossible which would translate to reduced life. However, we have the capacity to avoid such scenarios by adopting habits that reduce water wastage and pollution. Although the technologies that have been adopted can reduce river pollution considerably, it would be useless to cleanse while the wastes are still being discarded in the rivers. To realize significant results, personal responsibility should be combined with cleansing technologies.

Work Cited BIBLIOGRAPHY \l 1033 Girard, Greg. "Water Pollution." National Geographic n.d. Documents. <http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/freshwater/pollution/>.

Harper, Charles. Environment and Society. Routledge, 2015. Document. <https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=fclwCgAAQBAJ&dq=association+of+river+pollution+and+Miller+%26+Spoolmans+test&source=gbs_navlinks_s>.

Harrison, Roy M. Pollution: Causes, Effects, and Control. Royal Society, 2001. Document. <https://books.google.co.ke/books?id=1kFbRYQUqcAC&dq=river+pollution+definition&source=gbs_navlinks_s>.

Hudda, Sonakshi. "River Pollution: Causes, Actions, and revivals." Janhit Foundation (n.d.): 8. <http://www.janhitfoundation.in/pdf/booklet/river_pollution_causes_action_and_revival.pdf>.

Miller & Spoolman. "Water Pollution." Water Pollution n.d. Powerpoint. <http://apesths.weebly.com/uploads/1/3/3/7/13378424/chapter20.pdf>.

Perlman, Howard. "The World's Water." The USGS Water Science School 26 February 2016. Medium. <http://water.usgs.gov/edu/ea...


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