The effects of water pollution on the human body and the eco system

Health impacts of water pollution

It is a well-known fact that clean water is absolutely essential for healthy living. Adequate supply of fresh and clean drinking water is a basic need for all human beings on the earth, yet it has been observed that millions of people worldwide are deprived of this.

Freshwater resources all over the world are threatened not only by over exploitation and poor management but also by ecological degradation. The main source of freshwater pollution can be attributed to discharge of untreated waste, dumping of industrial effluent, and run-off from agricultural fields. Industrial growth, urbanization and the increasing use of synthetic organic substances have serious and adverse impacts on freshwater bodies. It is a generally accepted fact that the developed countries suffer from problems of chemical discharge into the water sources mainly groundwater, while developing countries face problems of agricultural run-off in water sources. Polluted water like chemicals in drinking water causes problem to health and leads to water-borne diseases which can be prevented by taking measures can be taken even at the household level.

Groundwater and its contamination

Many areas of groundwater and surface water are now contaminated with heavy metals, POPs (persistent organic pollutants), and nutrients that have an adverse affect on health. Water-borne diseases and water-caused health problems are mostly due to inadequate and incompetent management of water resources. Safe water for all can only be assured when access, sustainability, and equity can be guaranteed. Access can be defined as the number of people who are guaranteed safe drinking water and sufficient quantities of it. There has to be an effort to sustain it, and there has to be a fair and equal distribution of water to all segments of the society. Urban areas generally have a higher coverage of safe water than the rural areas. Even within an area there is variation: areas that can pay for the services have access to safe water whereas areas that cannot pay for the services have to make do with water from hand pumps and other sources.

In the urban areas water gets contaminated in many different ways, some of the most common reasons being leaky water pipe joints in areas where the water pipe and sewage line pass close together. Sometimes the water gets polluted at source due to various reasons and mainly due to inflow of sewage into the source.

Ground water can be contaminated through various sources and some of these are mentioned below.

Pesticides. Run-off from farms, backyards, and golf courses contain pesticides such as DDT that in turn contaminate the water. Leechate from landfill sites is another major contaminating source. Its effects on the ecosystems and health are endocrine and reproductive damage in wildlife. Groundwater is susceptible to contamination, as pesticides are mobile in the soil. It is a matter of concern as these chemicals are persistent in the soil and water.

Sewage. Untreated or inadequately treated municipal sewage is a major source of groundwater and surface water pollution in the developing countries. The organic material that is discharged with municipal waste into the watercourses uses substantial oxygen for biological degradation thereby upsetting the ecological balance of rivers and lakes. Sewage also carries microbial pathogens that are the cause of the spread of disease.

Nutrients. Domestic waste water, agricultural run-off, and industrial effluents contain phosphorus and nitrogen, fertilizer run-off, manure from livestock operations, which increase the level of nutrients in water bodies and can cause eutrophication in the lakes and rivers and continue on to the coastal areas. The nitrates come mainly from the fertilizer that is added to the fields. Excessive use of fertilizers cause nitrate contamination of groundwater, with the result that nitrate levels in drinking water is far above the safety levels recommended. Good agricultural practices can help in reducing the amount of nitrates in the soil and thereby lower its content in the water.

Synthetic organics. Many of the 100 000 synthetic compounds in use today are found in the aquatic environment and accumulate in the food chain. POPs or Persistent organic pollutants, represent the most harmful element for the ecosystem and for human health, for example, industrial chemicals and agricultural pesticides. These chemicals can accumulate in fish and cause serious damage to human health. Where pesticides are used on a large-scale, groundwater gets contaminated and this leads to the chemical contamination of drinking water.

Acidification. Acidification of surface water, mainly lakes and reservoirs, is one of the major environmental impacts of transport over long distance of air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide from power plants, other heavy industry such as steel plants, and motor vehicles. This problem is more severe in the US and in parts of Europe.

Chemicals in drinking water

Chemicals in water can be both naturally occurring or introduced by human interference and can have serious health effects.

Fluoride. Fluoride in the water is essential for protection against dental caries and weakening of the bones, but higher levels can have an adverse effect on health. In India, high fluoride content is found naturally in the waters in Rajasthan.

Arsenic. Arsenic occurs naturally or is possibly aggrevated by over powering aquifers and by phosphorus from fertilizers. High concentrations of arsenic in water can have an adverse effect on health.A few years back, high concentrations of this element was found in drinking water in six districts in West Bengal. A majority of people in the area was found suffering from arsenic skin lesions. It was felt that arsenic contamination in the groundwater was due to natural causes. The government is trying to provide an alternative drinking water source and a method through which the arsenic content from water can be removed.

Lead. Pipes, fittings, solder, and the service connections of some household plumbing systems contain lead that contaminates the drinking water source.

Recreational use of water. Untreated sewage, industrial effluents, and agricultural waste are often discharged into the water bodies such as the lakes, coastal areas and rivers endangering their use for recreational purposes such as swimming and canoeing.

Petrochemicals. Petrochemicals contaminate the groundwater from underground petroleum storage tanks.

Other heavy metals. These contaminants come from mining waste and tailings, landfills, or hazardous waste dumps.

Chlorinated solvents. Metal and plastic effluents, fabric cleaning, electronic and aircraft manufacturing are often discharged and contaminate groundwater.


Cause Water-borne diseases
Bacterial infections Typhoid
Paratyphoid fever
Bacillary dysentery

Viral infections Infectious Hepatitis (jaundice)

Protozoal infections Amoebic dysentery
Water-borne diseases are infectious diseases spread primarily through contaminated water. Though these diseases are spread either directly or through flies or filth, water is the chief medium for spread of these diseases and hence they are termed as water-borne diseases.

Most intestinal (enteric) diseases are infectious and are transmitted through faecal waste. Pathogens – which include virus, bacteria, protozoa, and parasitic worms – are disease-producing agents found in the faeces of infected persons. These diseases are more prevalent in areas with poor sanitary conditions. These pathogens travel through water sources and interfuses directly through persons handling food and water. Since these diseases are highly infectious, extreme care and hygiene should be maintained by people looking after an infected patient. Hepatitis, cholera, dysentery, and typhoid are the more common water-borne diseases that affect large populations in the tropical regions.

A large number of chemicals that either exist naturally in the land or are added due to human activity dissolve in the water, thereby contaminating it and leading to various diseases.

Pesticides. The organophosphates and the carbonates present in pesticides affect and damage the nervous system and can cause cancer. Some of the pesticides contain carcinogens that exceed recommended levels. They contain chlorides that cause reproductive and endocrinal damage.

Lead. Lead is hazardous to health as it accumulates in the body and affects the central nervous system. Children and pregnant women are most at risk.

Fluoride. Excess fluorides can cause yellowing of the teeth and damage to the spinal cord and other crippling diseases.

Nitrates. Drinking water that gets contaminated with nitrates can prove fatal especially to infants that drink formula milk as it restricts the amount of oxygen that reaches the brain causing the ‘blue baby’ syndrome. It is also linked to digestive tract cancers. It causes algae to bloom resulting in eutrophication in surface water.

Petrochemicals. Benzene and other petrochemicals can cause cancer even at low exposure levels.

Chlorinated solvents. These are linked to reproduction disorders and to some cancers.

Arsenic. Arsenic poisoning through water can cause liver and nervous system damage, vascular diseases and also skin cancer.

Other heavy metals. –Heavy metals cause damage to the nervous system and the kidney, and other metabolic disruptions.

Salts. It makes the fresh water unusable for drinking and irrigation purposes.

Exposure to polluted water can cause diarrhoea, skin irritation, respiratory problems, and other diseases, depending on the pollutant that is in the water body. Stagnant water and other untreated water provide a habitat for the mosquito and a host of other parasites and insects that cause a large number of diseases especially in the tropical regions. Among these, malaria is undoubtedly the most widely distributed and causes most damage to human health.

Posted by Bobbi HArrison
Eco-merge PSU student

Ways to Prevent Water Pollution

Water is a valuable resource that is depended upon by every living creature on earth that is often overlooked and taken for granted. Water covers more than 70% of the earth’s surface, though only 1% is usable for consumption. Ocean, lake and river water also need our immediate attention as all sources of water are becoming more and more polluted due to overuse, litter, and population increases.
The largest cause of water pollution is human activity. Gallons and gallons of water are used everyday for industrial and domestic means. This water comes from rivers, lakes and groundwater sources. After this water is used, it is eventually deposited right back into these original sources. Water pollution is an effect of this cycle, as well as sewage and industrial waste.
There are ways that each and every person can get involved in the prevention of water pollution. You can contribute to water conservation by turning off the tap when you are brushing your teeth, or other times you mindlessly let the water run. Using natural fertilizers and pesticides can greatly reduce the amount of toxic runoff to our rivers. Environmentally friendly household items and cleaners are available that reduce the amount of harmful chemicals that return to our water sources. Oils, paints, and other toxic products should be disposed of properly and never poured down the drain or sink.
The government must also take responsibility as well in seeing to it that appropriate sewage treatment plants are constructed, as well as making sure that industrial and nuclear plants are utilizing the proper waste storage systems. You can make a difference by writing to your local congressmen in hopes of raising awareness of this important issue.
Blog by: Brandy Unrein

Pollution Threatens River's Health

An article from The Astorian shares new data on toxic compounds in the lower part of the Columbia River:

VANCOUVER, Wash. - New data on contamination in the Lower Columbia River show concentrations of pesticides, industrial compounds and flame retardants between Portland and Longview, Wash., that rival those in Seattle's Puget Sound.

According to the two scientists in charge of testing at six sites from Point Adams, just east of Hammond, to Warrendale, about 140 miles upriver, the levels of some toxics detected in river sediment and fish tissue in the most industrialized stretches of the Columbia could be compromising the health and eventual survival of juvenile salmonids.

The Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership announced results of recent toxics monitoring tests Monday, kicking off a three-day conference on the river's health. The data were collected by the U.S. Geological Survey and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with the help of $1.6 million from the Bonneville Power Administration.

A final report on the monitoring data will be available in August.

After 20 years of participation in the National Estuary Program, a federally funded environmental protection effort, the lower Columbia River habitat continues to suffer from decades-old applications of the banned agricultural pesticide DDT (dichloro diphenyl tichloroethane), restricted industrial insulators and lubricants (PCBs) Polychlorinated biphenyls, and chemical compounds PAH (Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), found in petroleum and its byproducts.

These contaminants are known to bioaccumulate, or grow in concentration, as they move up the food chain from microbes on river sediment to fish and eventually birds in the river's ecosystem. Scientists are also concerned about the impact the contaminants could have on humans who eat the river's fish.

The Columbia's contamination has been in the spotlight since last summer, when the Environmental Protection Agency declared the entire river one of 28 "Great Water Bodies" in the country, a designation that brings heightened federal attention and clean-up funding potential.

LCREP is now asking Congress for $2.3 million from the 2008 budget to continue monitoring toxics in the river system. LCREP Director Debrah Marriott said additional research would be needed to fully understand and correct pollution problems and create a "cleaner, healthier Columbia."

"The Willamette is a major source of agricultural and industrial discharge on the Lower Columbia," said Marriott. But other sources on the lower river and in the entire Columbia River Basin, stretching up to Idaho and into Canada, contribute as well, she said.

"Stormwater discharges, industrial discharges, seafood processing plants, air deposition and hazardous waste sites are all contributing to pollution along the mainstem Columbia River," said Marriott. The new data will help LCREP "assign additional responsibilities" to agencies charged with protecting clean water and wildlife, she said.

To read the rest of the article, this link is:

Three Major Reasons of toxic pollution in the Colorado River

The Colorado River supports 25 million Americans for their drinking water. It is also used to irrigate crops for many farmers in the Midwest. Covering almost 250,000 square miles, it crosses into seven states. Its riverfront communities in California and Arizona are also the largest users of septic tanks. In an article by the Arizona DEQ in 2004, three major reasons were sited as contaminates of the Colorado River. In the same year, the Colorado River was also named The Most Threatened River in the U.S. The first reason was due to the septic tank use, where nitrates seep into the ground water that eventually reaches the Colorado River. High levels of nitrates in drinking water causes blue baby syndrome and has been linked to cancer. The second reason is perchlorate, which is an ingredient in rocket fuel that has can cause mental retardation, loss of hearing and speech, and motor skills. The source of this contaminate is Henderson, Nevada, a site where the U.S. produced missile fuel during the Cold War. While efforts to curb this contamination have helped, 400 lbs of perchlorate still reach the Colorado every day. The third reason is radioactive mill waste that comes from defunct facilities in Moab, Utah, the location of one of the richest uranium deposits ever.

For the article, visit:

Posted by Hyun Yu

Tighter Regulations = Good News for Alaska's Kenai River

Alaska's Kenai River had been on the state's list of polluted waterways, but after a ban on two-stroke engines it has now been removed from the list. Testing had shown that roughly 600 gallon of fuel were being dumped into the river on some days in the month of July. Despite opposition from fisherman, who didn't think that two-stroke engines were the culprit, two-stroke engines were banned from the river in 2008. Later that year it was found that there was a 70 percent reduction petroleum contaminants.

Boat motor restrictions appear to have cleaned Kenai River
BOAT FUEL: State removes river from list of polluted waterways.


Published: July 27th, 2010 01:31 PM
Last Modified: July 27th, 2010 02:38 PM

State officials, anglers and conservationists are crediting tighter rules on boat engines for a major decrease in pollution in the Kenai, the state's most popular sportfishing river.

On Monday, the state announced that it has removed the river from the list of Alaska's polluted waterways.

The Kenai -- a massive producer of salmon and a magnet for Southcentral fishermen and tourists -- joined the list of polluted waterways four years ago after tests showed high levels of petroleum compounds in the river.

Roughly 600 gallons of fuel per day were leaking from motorboats into the river on some days in July, the testing had shown.

The cumulative impact was like dumping a 55-gallon drum of fuel off the Soldotna bridge every four hours, said Robert Ruffner of the Kenai Watershed Forum, which has measured water quality in the river for more than a decade and has been working as a contractor to the state on Kenai water-quality testing.

"They'd be carting you away in handcuffs if you did that," he said.

Due to the contamination, in 2008 the state banned most two-stroke boat engines along a large swath of the lower Kenai. That's despite criticism from some fishermen who didn't believe two-strokes were the culprit.

But that year, the maximum concentration of petroleum contaminants in water collected from a sampling station near the mouth of the Kenai declined by 70 percent. The ban was "the most significant factor," according to a draft report that Ruffner's group recently provided to the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation.

State officials said they removed the Kenai from the polluted waterways list because it did not exceed water-quality standards for petroleum compounds in 2008 and 2009.


The head of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, Ricky Gease, said Monday that he believes the ban is working and he's pleased with the state's decision to remove the river from the list.

"The brand of wholesome salmon doesn't fit with an impaired listing for hydrocarbon pollution," Gease said.

Before the ban, the river routinely exceeded the state's water-quality standards in July, when crowds of recreational boaters target Kenai salmon runs. Routine testing had shown high levels of petroleum compounds since 2000.

Adding the Kenai to the list of polluted waters required the state to come up with a cleanup plan. The rules designed by state agencies in 2008 require that all outboard engines used on the lower Kenai during July must be four-stroke or direct fuel-injection two-stroke engines. The Board of Fisheries approved a similar rule that year for dipnetters who fish from boats near the mouth of the Kenai.

The state plans to turn the July restriction into a year-round rule in January 2013 for a nearly 80-mile stretch of the lower Kenai.

Using a federal grant, the Kenaitze Indian Tribe offered $500 incentives to help fishermen purchase cleaner-burning boat engines, and at least one engine manufacturer matched the incentive payment to fishermen.

A replacement engine could cost $6,000, but cleaner water and better fuel conservation make it worth the price, Gease said.

While they are lighter and less expensive, the banned two-stroke engines are less fuel efficient than four-stroke engines and leak more pollution into the environment.


At least two additional Southcentral Alaska waterways remain under state scrutiny due to petroleum contamination linked to boat engines.

Big Lake, a playground for Mat-Su and Anchorage boaters and jet skiers, was added to the state's list of contaminated waterways in 2006. State officials have not yet finalized a cleanup plan for Big Lake, though they have begun an educational campaign to encourage better boating practices.

The Little Susitna River in Mat-Su also exceeds the state's water-quality standards for petroleum compounds on some summer days. State regulators said they haven't collected enough data yet to support putting it on the contaminated waterways list.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation announced the removal of the Kenai and several other waterways from the polluted list Monday in its biennial water-quality report, but it added nine waterways to the list, including three that are suffering contamination from historic mining activity. The three are Salt Chuck Bay in Southeast, and Red Devil Creek and a portion of the Kuskokwim River, both in Western Alaska.

Among the other waterways removed from the polluted list is Jewel Lake in Anchorage. The lake had previously exceeded the state's limits for fecal coliform, a pollutant linked to sewage waste.

Roughly 30 waterways remain on the contaminated waterways list, including lower Ship Creek, affected by petroleum compounds that federal regulators say are coming from the Alaska Railroad.

Read more:


When discussing water pollution, there are often a lot of terms and statistics that are thrown around that may confuse some people. I think it is rare to find sites that break things down but here is a pretty good one. This is about improvements in water quality for the Ohio River. Clearly, it takes CWA to enforce laws and regulations for a difference to be made. The following article from Water Quality Protection is a great example.

Water Quality Protection
Regulatory Oversight Showing Weaknesses

The Ohio River is now the worst toxic water dump in the U.S. In response, in 2009, ORF launched the Protect Our Water campaign.
Improvements in water quality were achieved in the Ohio River watershed due primarily to passage and enforcement of the Clean Water Act (CWA) in 1972. However, threats continue from stormwater runoff, agricultural runoff, mercury deposition from coal-fired plants, and millions of gallons of untreated sewage that flow into the river each year from sewer overflows. Furthermore, Over the last two years, evidence indicates that government pollution prevention and enforcement programs are not working well. Reports by USEPA, Environment America Research & Policy Center, and The New York Times indicate that:
1. In 2007, polluters dumped 31 million pounds of toxic chemicals into the Ohio River making it the most toxic river in the country
2. Violations of the Clean Water Act are going unprosecuted
3. 49% of lakes and reservoirs are contaminated above EPA safe levels
Amazingly, in some cases this is permitted pollution; however, the number of permit violations appears to be growing. Unfortunately, the political will to enforce water pollution laws has waned and is now further stressed by economic recession and shrinking government budgets. So, under the auspices of the Protect Our Water campaign ORF is now conducting an independent investigation to identify polluters threatening our waterways and drinking water supplies, and force compliance with the law.

If ones takes the time to research water pollution there is so many scary fact out there. As someone who drinks a lot of water, and goes swimming a lot, it frightens me a little. I think everyone would be inspired to investigate the cleanliness of their water sources if they know the facts. Knowledge is power in this case.


Everyone always hears that water pollution is dangerous, and that we should take as many steps as possible to prevent it from happening.  I think that often times, people do not exactly realize all the dangers there are.  Water pollution affects us in many ways but one of the scariest is our tap water.  The fact that tap water can get contaminated, and be dirty, certainly scares me.  Here is a great article that discusses the topic a little more in depth.  
   The following BLOG was found at:
Most tap water polluted by dirty municipal infrastructure
Thursday, January 25, 2007 by: Beau Hodai, citizen
journalist(NaturalNews) As the United States becomes a nation of 300
million, the countries older cities face the reality of
overpopulation, crumbling infrastructures, and the health concerns
raised by both, especially those related to the availability of fresh
Eric Goldstein, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council,
has stated that the water distribution systems of cities such as
Chicago, Denver, Philadelphia and New York are in urgent need of repair.
The antiquated water delivery systems in these cities are comprised of
nearly 1 million miles of piping, mostly made of iron. As the iron
pipes corrode, clean water flowing through them becomes contaminated
with rust. Over time the pipes also rupture, causing not only water
loss, but the introduction of pollutants and diseases from the ground.
Investigations conducted in the last five years suggest that a
substantial proportion of waterborne disease outbreaks, both microbial
and chemical, are attributable to problems within distribution
systems,” said the National Research Council in a report released in
December for the Environmental Protection Agency.
There are 170,000 public water distribution systems at work
nationwide, and municipalities spend more than $50 million each year
to supply clean drinking water in accordance with the Safe Drinking
Water Act of 1974.
If you clean up water and then put it into a dirty pipe, there’s not
much point,” said Montana State University microbiologist and water
research scientist, Timothy Ford. “I consider the distribution system
to be the highest risk and the greatest problem we are going to be
facing in the future,” said Ford.
Jack Hossbuhr, executive director of the American Water Works
Association, estimates that the cost of replacing existing pipelines
over the next 20 to 30 years is going to cost water utility companies
some $250 to $350 billion.
Some critics of current water delivery techniques feel that replacing
the infrastructure is not a total solution.
I advise everyone to avoid drinking water from the tap, no matter how
clean the city claims it to be,” said consumer health advocate Mike
Adams. “Even when cities claim their water is clean, they may still
add toxic fluoride chemicals and chlorine, which we know promotes
bladder cancer. Filtering your water is crucial for protecting your
Wow, this is a freighting concept.  It rings so true that water that has been cleaned out is worthless if it is simply put back into filthy pipes.  If this doesn’t affect people I am not sure what does.  I have lived in Oregon all my life, and when I have visited California, and Nevada the water tasted too horrible to drink.  I had to buy bottle water.  If water does not taste good people do not want to drink it.  People need water to hydrate- Clean water!!


I found this at:

Colorado River may face fight of its life

Increased toxins likely as energy companies seek oil, gas, uranium

Sunday, December 21, 2008 at 12:02 a.m.
A flat, terraced area beside the Colorado River near Moab, Utah, is where a pile of radioactive waste from a uranium mill is buried. The mill closed in 1984, but it's estimated that 110,000 gallons of radioactive groundwater seep into the Colorado River each day.



The waterway starts in the snowfields of Wyoming and Colorado, then runs about 1,450 miles to Mexico.
Dozens of creeks and streams feed into it.
The river provides drinking water for more than 27 million people in seven states – Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming.
Recreation areas along the river include Grand Canyon National Park.


Abrahm Lustgarten at ProPublica has reported for six months on how oil and natural gas drilling affects water supplies in the Rocky Mountain West.
When the Colorado River emerged as an important piece of his coverage, Lustgarten started working with The San Diego Union-Tribune's  David Hasemyer, who has written about uranium mining's impact on the waterway for more than a decade.
Together, they looked at the potential environmental and water-use consequences of increased mining and drilling in the river's watershed.
ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom whose mission is to pursue watchdog journalism in the public interest. The organization, based in New York City, began publishing in June.
To learn more about ProPublica and read the unabridged version of this story, go to
The Colorado River has endured drought, large-scale climate changes, pollution, ecological damage from dams and battles by seven states to draw more water.
Now the life vein of the Southwest faces another threat: Energy companies are sucking up the Colorado's water to support increased development of oil, natural gas and uranium deposits along the river's basin. The mining and drilling will likely send more toxins into the waterway, which provides drinking water for one out of 12 Americans and nourishes 15 percent of the nation's crops along its journey from Wyoming and Colorado to Mexico.
Tapping the watershed is enticing because its resources could help reduce the nation's dependence on foreign oil. The region could contain more oil than Alaska's National Arctic Wildlife Refuge. It has the richest natural gas fields in the country and plenty of uranium deposits.
But scientists and water managers warn that in the rush to develop more domestic energy, the government is failing to understand that the river's economic and ecological value is as vital to U.S. interests as anything extracted around it.
The river is so beleaguered by drought and past pollution that one environmental study called it the nation's most endangered waterway. Researchers from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla said the river's reservoirs could dry up in 13 years, depriving regions such as San Diego County of their main source of water.
In the eight years President Bush has been in office, the Colorado River watershed has seen more oil and gas drilling than at any time since 1984, when the government began keeping such statistics. Uranium claims have reached a 10-year high.
Last week, the administration auctioned off 148,598 acres of federal land for natural gas projects within range of two national parks near Moab, Utah. And a last-minute change in federal rules has paved the way for water-intensive oil shale mining in the watershed.
As Bush tries to complete his agenda for development, water managers and politicians focusing on the Colorado River are asking which is more valuable: energy or water?
The question will continue to be debated during the presidency of Barack Obama, who has said he will work to balance energy exploration with environmental protection.
“The decisions we are making today will be dictating how we will be living the rest of our lives,” said Jim Pokrandt, a spokesman for the Colorado River Conservation District, a state-run policy agency. “We may have reached mutually exclusive demands on our water supply.”
Management divide Determining the best uses for the Colorado is complicated because there's no unified management.
The Interior Department, which includes the Bureau of Land Management, oversees where the water goes but not what's needed to keep it clean. The Environmental Protection Agency is responsible for maintaining water quality, but it can't control who uses the river and doesn't conduct its own research. EPA officials also delegate much of their authority to the seven states that the river runs through.
“I don't know that there is, quite honestly, anyone that looks at an entire overview impact statement of the Colorado River,” said Robert Walsh, a spokesman for the Bureau of Reclamation, which governs the allocation and flow of the southern part of the waterway.
Oil and natural-gas drilling in Colorado requires so much water that if its annual demand were satisfied all at once, it would be the equivalent of shutting off most of Southern California's water for five days.
Concerns also are being raised about contaminants the energy industry leaves behind.
Company representatives say they adhere to environmental laws, but natural gas drilling has caused contamination across the West. Mining has a similar history of pollution.
Industry officials and the Bush administration said America's reliance on foreign oil makes using all available energy resources at home a priority.
“I believe this country needs to offer domestic resources to be energy-independent,” said Tim Spisak, a senior official who heads the BLM's oil and gas development group. “The way to do that is to responsibly develop public resources on our lands.”
The U.S. House and Senate are considering bills that would require better management of the nation's water assets. But some water managers said that's not enough. They want the president to create a national water authority – or a Cabinet-level water czar.
“If you are really going to deal with water, the nation needs to deal with it in a far more comprehensive manner,” said Brad Udall, a federal water researcher based at the University of Colorado and son of the late Mo Udall, a congressman from Arizona who championed environmental causes.
During Bush's presidency, the Southern Nevada Water Authority, the state of Arizona and the Metropolitan Water District – the wholesale provider for Southern California – have asked the Interior Department to proceed with caution as it approves record numbers of claims and leases for mining and drilling near the river.
“We have other sources of (energy),” said Jeffrey Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District. “We don't have other sources of water.”
Threat of pollution New uranium-mining claims within five miles of the river have more than tripled – to 1,195 from 395 – in the past six years, according to a review of BLM records by the Environmental Working Group, a national organization that conducts research on a wide variety of health and ecological issues.
The region already suffers from a decades-long record of contamination. The Metropolitan Water District points to a 16 million-ton pile of radioactive waste near a mill in Moab as a warning of what can happen when mining isn't carefully controlled.
The mill closed in 1984, but the Grand Canyon Trust estimates that 110,000 gallons of radioactive groundwater still seep into the river each day. The first loads of waste aren't scheduled to be hauled off until next year.
Industry officials say the Moab case is an outdated blight from the past.
“What gets my ire up is when we get compared to stuff that happened in the '60s. There is no argument from us now about being careful – with an eye to preserving the environment,” said Peter Farmer, CEO of Denison Mines, a Canadian company that operates seven U.S. uranium mines and a uranium mill in Blanding, Utah.
Denison recently spent more than $5 million to triple-line a waste pit and outfit it with leak-detection sensors.
Roger Haskins, a specialist in mining law at the BLM, said landmark environmental regulations in the 1970s prepared the industry for the 21st century. While it's still easy to stake a mining claim, projects now must undergo extensive environmental review before they can operate as mines.
“Whatever happens out there is thoroughly manageable in today's regulatory environment,” Haskins said.
Scientists say some degree of pollution is inevitable.
Drilling for uranium creates pathways where raw, radioactive material can migrate into underground aquifers that drain into the river. Surface water can seep into the drill holes and mine shafts, picking up traces of uranium and then percolating into underground water sources.
“There has to be some impact to downstream water,” said David Naftz, a hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey in Salt Lake City who studies uranium mining.
A recent study found contaminated surface water at 15 of 25 mines that the EPA approved starting in 1969. Those sites used techniques the EPA had said would prevent pollution, according to the environmental group Earthworks.
Danger from drilling In the past decade, a pattern of contamination also has emerged where natural-gas drilling has intensified. If drilling increases substantially across Colorado, Wyoming and Utah, it could imperil the river.
Most wells rely on a process called hydraulic fracturing, which requires as much as 2 million gallons of water plus small amounts of often-toxic chemicals for a single well.
In February, a waste pit on a mesa overlooking the town of Parachute, Colo., leaked and allowed about 1.6 million gallons of fluid to soak into the ground. The spill eventually reached the Colorado River.
Colorado state records show that of about 1,500 spills in drilling areas since 2003, more than 300 have seeped into water.
Doug Hock, a spokesman for Canadian gas company Encana, which drills in Colorado and Wyoming, said the fears of pollution are exaggerated. He said Encana installs steel and concrete casing around its drill pipes, lines its waste pits and increasingly reuses its treated wastewater.
“We have put in place safeguards to protect the water,” Hock said. “There is always a balance – this country has a great demand for energy.”
Because the energy industry has been exempted from certain environmental rules during the Bush administration, it's difficult to gauge what the industry has done to the river.
The mix of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing is now proprietary. Without knowing the ingredients, EPA officials and scientists can't determine which compounds to test for after a spill.
A September report from the University of Colorado Denver predicted that in 15 years, Garfield County, a drilling area bisected by the river, will have 23,000 wells, six times what it has now.
Getting oil from rock No project poses a greater threat to the Colorado River – or better represents the choice between water and energy – than mining for oil shale.
In mid-November, the BLM approved a rule change that paved the way for extracting oil from rock deposits in Colorado and Utah. If the vast deposits are mined to their potential – and it could be a decade before any of the projects move forward – the reserves could help the United States make a significant leap toward energy independence.
Getting oil from the shale would be astronomically expensive. It also might require more water than the Colorado River can provide.
A recent study for the state of Colorado found that energy projects in the waterway's upper basin would stop the river's flow for nearly six weeks if all the water they required were tapped at the same time.
“It just comes down to how needy the nation is for energy,” said Scott Ruppe, general manager of the Uintah Water Conservancy District in northeastern Utah. “If energy is short, then some of the other concerns might get pushed aside.”
In a few weeks, it will be up to Obama to set the priorities for managing the Colorado River.
He could limit mining claims in ecologically sensitive areas and rigorously enforce existing environmental regulations. Once a lease is signed, though, it's nearly impossible to reverse.
Obama also could try to undo some of the Bush administration's rules, but any changes wouldn't take effect for several years.
His greatest opportunity to address the conflict between water and energy may lie not in undoing policies from the past, but in looking to the future.
“The (new) administration has an opportunity to start thinking about water as a national resource,” said Patricia Mulroy, general manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority in Las Vegas. “We have no rearview mirrors anymore.”


So as a group we will be making a site on water pollution and as I am researching information I keep coming across sites with great information. This one is about the Mississippi River. Anyone who lives in the U.S. should maybe know that it is a major economic and natural resource for America, and in my book that means it is pretty important.

I found this at:
Starting in Minnesota and winding its way to the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi River is a major economic and natural resource for the heartland of the United States.
Its importance in American life is reflected in the consistent amount of research about various aspects of the river that is published on an annual basis. This review examines research on Mississippi River pollution in terms of four major water pollution topics: toxic pollution; sediment pollution; nutrient pollution; and bacterial pollution.
From an historical perspective, pollution along the Mississippi River can be traced to population growth along its boundaries. I would like to say really quickly- that population growth has been know to cause various problems, but how often to people consider the damage it does to our rivers??
The United States Geological Survey released a report in the 1990s that provided comprehensive coverage of the organic and inorganic toxins in the Mississippi River. Referring to the heavy metals, they stated,
as the valleys of the Mississippi River and its tributaries were settled and industrialized, the metals added by human activities have affected the water quality of the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico. Some of these metals are essential for proper metabolism in all living organisms yet toxic at high concentrations; other metals currently thought of as non-essential are toxic even at relatively low concentrations."
The most recent reviews of pollution problems link current agricultural practices with the most severe problems. Nutrient pollution caused by agricultural runoff is cited as the most pressing pollution problem. The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient Task Force consisting of five federal agencies and ten state agencies, was created in 1997 to deal with the problem.
After ten years of work, much work still needs to be undertaken. In July 2008, NOAA released a report saying that the size of the Gulf of Mexico dead zone (caused by agricultural runoff) averaged 6,600 square miles between 2003-2008. Additionally, since 1993, downward trends in nutrient overloading are basically absent.
Bacterial pollution, especially the presence of E. coli, which is linked to both current sewage treatment facilities and the runoff that contains livestock manure, also makes large stretches of the Mississippi River a no swim zone.
The National Academy of Science also recently released a report covering Mississippi River Water Quality and the Clean Water Act that outlined water pollution problems associated with agriculture practices. They suggest the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) take a lead role to coordinate more effective clean up action among the primary stakeholders, specifically the border states.
Finally, another recent report entitled Review of Sedimentation Issues on the Mississippi River states,"
"Problems like upland erosion, chemical leaks and spills, and other types of pollution have been prevalent throughout the basin and have been amplified by pollutant/sediment transport, creating environmental problems for humans, wildlife, and especially aquatic life. Several revetments have been implemented with the intent of mitigating these problems. The success of the revetments has generally been initially successful; however, subsequent processes, like aggradation and degradation, have been resultants of these revetments over time."
Note: The report for UNESCO was an active link a week back. Since then, Google reports that the site has safety issues so the link was removed.
© 2009. Patricia A. Michaels

It seems as though there are many issues but lets try to keep things on a positive note. If younger generations are informed of the dangers of water pollution and know the steps to prevent and minimize it then the future will hold good things.



Point source pollution is contamination that enters the environment through any discernible, confined, and discrete conveyance, such as a smokestack, pipe, ditch, tunnel, or conduit. Point source pollution remains a major cause of pollution to both air and water. Point sources are differentiated from non-point sources, which are those that spread out over a large area and have no specific outlet or discharge point. Point source pollution in the United States is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Point Sources of Water Pollution

Point sources of water pollution include municipal sewage treatment plant discharges and industrial plant discharges. Municipal sewage treatment plant point sources can contribute pollution in the form of oxygen-depleting nutrients and in the form of pathogens that cause serious health hazards in drinking water and swimming areas. Industrial point sources can contribute pollution in the form of toxic chemicals and heavy metals. Examples of non-point source water pollution include agricultural and urban runoff, and runoff from mining, and construction sites.
The Clean Water Act (CWA), passed by Congress in 1972, provides the basic structure for regulating the discharge of pollutants from point sources to waters of the United States. The CWA gives the EPA the authority to establish effluent limits. Effluent is the outflow from a municipal or industrial treatment plant. The CWA also requires the acquisition of a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit prior to the discharge of pollutants. States may be authorized to implement CWA programs, but the EPA retains oversight responsibilities.
The EPA manages effluent limits for point sources in two ways: through technology-based controls and through water quality-based controls. Industry-wide effluent limits are established on a technology basis. These are minimum standards based on available treatment technology and pollution prevention measures. Effluent limits are also established on a water-quality basis. Water quality-based criteria are scientifically defensible standards that ensure protection of designated uses of a receiving water. Either standard may be superceded by the more stringent standard, as determined by the control authority.
Municipal point sources are the result of community sewage treatment systems. At the sewage treatment plant, wastewater is treated to remove solid and organic matter, disinfected to kill bacteria and viruses, and then often discharged to a surface water. Not all solids and organic matter are removed during treatment, resulting in degraded receiving water quality, due to a reduction in dissolved oxygen . Nutrients such as phosphorus that are not removed during treatment can cause overgrowth of algae and other organisms, also leading to lower dissolved oxygen. Many toxic substances can pass through conventional municipal treatment systems. Improperly treated sewage can be released as a result of upsets to the treatment process or as a result of operator error.
During heavy rain, discharges from sewage treatment systems can be a serious problem. In many municipalities, storm-water runoff is combined with municipal sewage in a common system. The increased water volume leads to reduced treatment. Combined sewer overflows occur when water flow exceeds treatment plant capacity, resulting in untreated sewage being discharged directly to rivers, lakes, or the ocean.
Industrial point sources are the result of industries using water in their production processes, and then treating the water prior to discharge. Some of the industries requiring process waters include pulp and paper mills, food processors, electronic equipment manufacturers, rare metal manufacturers, textile manufacturers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, forest product producers, leather tanners, and chemical manufacturers.
The National Pretreatment Program is charged with controlling the 126 priority pollutants from industries that discharge into sewer systems. These pollutants fall into two categories: metals and toxic organics. The metals include lead, mercury, chromium, and cadmium. The toxic organics include solvents, pesticides, dioxins, and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
Unlike municipal treatment methods, which are similar across the country, industrial treatment methods are industry-specific. For example, electro-plating wastewater may require cyanide removal through oxidization. In general, physical processes may be used to remove solids and biological processes to remove organics. Chemical treatment, such as precipitation and neutralization, is also widely used.
The National Water Quality Inventory: 2000 Report is compiled based on the water quality reports required to be submitted to the EPA by states every two years. The report identifies "impaired" waters: water that cannot support its designated use, such as fishing or swimming, due to contamination. According to the report, municipal point sources contributed to 37 percent and industrial discharges contributed to 26 percent of reported water-quality problems in the impaired portion of estuaries. Municipal point sources were the leading cause of contamination in 21 percent of the impaired ocean shorelines, and industrial discharges were the leading cause in 17 percent. Municipal point sources were a leading source of contamination in 10 percent of the impaired river miles and 12 percent of the impaired lake acres . These figures are improved over the percentages recorded in the 1992 Report when municipal point sources were a leading contamination source in 15 percent of the impaired river miles and 21 percent of the impaired lake acres.
The NPDES permit program can be credited with achieving significant improvements to the water quality of the United States. Immediately following passage of the CWA, efforts focused mainly on regulating traditional point sources, such as municipal sewage plants and industrial facilities. In the late 1980s, efforts to address "wet weather point sources," such as urban storm sewer systems, began. Currently, there is a greater focus on nonpoint source pollution. The EPA is moving away from a source-by-source and pollutant-by-pollutant approach to a watershed-based approach. A watershed, or "placebased," approach is a process that emphasizes addressing all stressors within a hydrologically defined boundary or drainage basin. Equal emphasis is placed on protecting healthy waters and restoring impaired waters.

Point Sources of Air Pollution

Point sources of air pollution include stationary sources such as power plants, smelters, industrial and commercial boilers, wood and pulp processors, paper mills, industrial surface coating facilities, refinery and chemical processing operations, and petroleum storage tanks. Examples of nonpoint sources of air pollution include: on-road mobile sources such as cars and trucks; nonroad mobile sources such as construction and recreation equipment engines; and natural sources such as windstorms and fires. Exposure to air pollution is associated with adverse effects on human health including respiratory problems and lung diseases. Air pollution can also significantly affect ecosystems.
The Clean Air Act (CAA) was passed by Congress in 1970 and amended in 1990. Under the CAA, EPA sets limits on how much of a pollutant is allowed in the air anywhere in the United States. Each state is required to develop a state implementation plan (SIP) to explain how it will do its job
Smoke is pouring from the smokestack of an incinerator. (U.S. EPA. 
Reproduced by permission.)
Smoke is pouring from the smokestack of an incinerator. (
U.S. EPA. Reproduced by permission.

under the CAA. A permit must be obtained for large sources that release pollutants into the air. The permits require information on which pollutants are being released, how much pollutant is released, what steps are being taking to reduce pollution, and plans for monitoring. The EPA has set national air quality standards for six principal air pollutants (also known as criteria pollutants): carbon monoxide (CO), lead (Pb), nitrogen dioxide (NO 2 ), ozone (O 3 ), particulate matter (PM), and sulfur dioxide (SO 2 ). CO, Pb, NO 2 , and SO 2 result from direct emissions from a variety of sources, including point sources. PM can result from direct emissions or can form when emissions and other gases react in the atmosphere. Ozone is not emitted directly, but forms when nitrogen oxides (NO x ) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) react in the presence of sunlight. The EPA refers to chemicals that cause serious health and environmental impacts as hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) or air toxics. Currently, 189 air toxics have been identified, including chemicals such as benzene, chloroform, and mercury.
The EPA tracks air pollution in two ways: (1) emissions form all sources going back thirty years and (2) air quality measured from monitoring stations around the country going back twenty years. The EPA summarizes its most recent evaluations in the report Latest Findings on National Air Quality: 2000 Status and Trends. Since 1970, the total emissions for the six criteria pollutants have been reduced 29 percent. National air quality levels measured at monitoring stations across the country have also shown improvements over the past twenty years for all six criteria pollutants. Over 160 million tons of pollution (from both point sources and non-point sources) are emitted into the air each year in the United States.
In 2000 Status and Trends, the EPA reports an increasing focus on tracking and controlling ground-level ozone and fine particles, key components of smog and haze. Progress has been slowest for ground-level ozone. In some regions of the United States, ozone levels have actually increased in the past ten years. The ozone increase correlates to the increase in NO x emissions from power plants and other sources. NO x emissions also contribute to acid rain, haze and particulate matter. Sulfates, formed mainly from coal-fired power plant emissions, are the main source of particles in the eastern United States. The emissions also contribute to the formation of acid rain. The EPA's emissions trading program successfully reduced these air pollutants, resulting in improved visibility in the eastern United States.
While point source pollution is declining in the United States, it remains a global environmental concern. According to the UN report Global Environment Outlook 2000, rapid urbanization and industrialization in many developing countries is creating high levels of air and water pollution.


U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2000). National Water Quality Inventory: 2000 Report. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Wastewater Management. (1999). Introduction to the National Pretreatment Program. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.
Vigil, Kenneth M. (1996). Clean Water: The Citizen's Complete Guide to Water Quality and Water Pollution Control. Portland, OR: Columbia Cascade Publishing Company.

Read more: Point Source - water, effects, environmental, pollutants, United States, EPA, chemicals, industrial, toxic, human, power, sources, use, health

The Colorado River

           The Colorado River, spanning 1,450 miles, flows through 7 U.S. states and provides a boundary between Arizona and Mexico for 17 miles.  The river is used for irrigation and water supplies for surrounding areas, as well as streamside vegetation.  The abundance of crops and major cities such as Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona would not have grown at such a rapid pace if not for this natural resource.  Partly due to these water demands, the river is drying up in certain areas.  Due to the increase in the river's use, the Colorado River is experiencing a high volume of salinity, or solids, in the water.  The highest concentration is in salt form.  Factors such as salt evaporation from irrigation, reservoir surfaces, and natural deposits of salt from soils and rocks are all contributors.  The lower river valley has such a high concentration of salt in the water that it is not suitable for human consumption.  As a result, a desalinization plant removes the salt from the water in order for the United States to provide water to Mexico.  More river problems are expected to rise as populations increase and the high levels of salt continue to plague the river as well as several tributaries.
Posted by: Brandy Unrein

A Wake Up Call

The recent incident of the oil leak in the Gulf and the subsequent disastrous efforts to contain the damage being done is nothing short of an environmental disaster. But it is fascinating to see how such a catastrophe has fluctuated in and out of the news. A disaster of this magnitude seems to gather relatively adequate coverage compared to the jail sentence of Lindsay Lohan. Regardless, the incident has once again propelled to the forefront of our consciousness the issue that is very personal to all of us, the issue of safeguarding our environment. The after-effects of the oil spill are now being experienced in the can serve as a wake up call as to how sensitive the balance of nature is all around us. There is much work to be done to get us out of this mess.
But as American Rivers, a non-profit dedicated to "standing up for healthy rivers so communities can thrive", has recently pointed out, the recent oil spill reminds us The Importance of our Great Waters. The article introduces several key issues that have been brought to the forefront and initiatives and bills have been passed and and introduced. From the Obama administrations “America’s Great Outdoors” initiative to the a bill specifically tailored to address the high levels of toxic contaminants polluting the Columbia River. This focus on the preservation of our rivers and water sources holds extreme value. It is, therefore, encouraging to witness the recent recognition of July as Florida Rivers Month. Then there is a growing consciousness and effort to highlight the personal usage of water within individual households that will propel it more to the forefront to understand our water usage and the resources thereof.
All these efforts and initiatives mark a shift in focus upon the level of vitality and importance that rivers and water resources close to us hold. The next step is to take this fight to each household and individual and really personalize this struggle. For this, it is impertinent to resound the places where the changing trend effect us directly, either through the impact it has on fishing, or the role that rivers can play in the production of energy and electricity and then there are the threats imposed upon these resources from industrialization.
Regardless of what aspect it is that appeals to you, it is important to pay attention to this issue because, even if it doesn't feel like it today, it is here at our doorstep and all the attention it is getting should serve as a wake up call.

Posted by Syed Qasimuddin, 

Chemical Quality of Rivers Revealed Through Shrimp

An article in the Science Daily reveals that scientists have been able to see the impact of contamination of rivers through freshwater shrimp. It is stated that:

"Today, researchers measure synthesis of the protein in male Gammarus shrimp and study its impact on the viability of their young. Other substances impact the DNA of Gammarus. A very visual test, called the comet test, measures the damage done to the DNA. Tests carried out on rivers reveal damage of up to 20%. Pollutants attack three different targets, but in the end, the result is the same, the overall dynamics of populations are threatened.

Studies are now being expanded to other species of Gammarus in order to offer generic tools for monitoring water quality."

By calculating the damage done through freshwater shrimp, scientists have been finding means for how pollution, and human activities through rivers directly impacts our rivers and the food we consume through these rivers. This article concludes with:

"Over the long term, this situation may impact on food supplies for species higher up in the food chain, e.g. trout which eat great quantities of the small shrimp."

To read the full article in Science Daily, please check it out here:

Columbia River Finally Getting Attention

According to the aritcle, "Columbia River toxins moving up food chain" that was in the,
the Columbia River is finally getting the some attention from the EPA and other environmental organizations.  In the past the upper Columbia River in Washington has been in the shadows of Puget Sound in terms of research and preservation.  Although the Columbia is thought to be much cleaner than its former self back in the 1960's, some findings such as poisonous mercury vapor lamps and groundwater toxins related to the Hanford nuclear reactor that are moving towards it, have prompted much interest in toxin levels.  They have also found Sturgeon and Salmon to contain unacceptable levels of toxins that not only affect these wildlife but also the consumers of them.  Native Indians who consume on average, up to 11 times more than other Americans, have greatly increased chances of cancer due to these toxins.  Some parts of the Columbia have levels of toxins that are the same as some Rivers that are considered Federal Superfund sites.  As one of the six major rivers of the United States, its about time that the Columbia got some respect and hopefully some help for clean up.

To read more, please visit the following link:
"Columbia River toxins moving up food chain"
Craig Welch: 206-464-2093 or

Posted by Hyun Yu


Toxic Reduction


The Columbia River, and the communities who depend on it, are facing toxic threats from new industrial development, gaps in environmental enforcement, and the legacy of a polluted past. At 1,243 miles long, the Columbia River is the lifeblood of the Pacific Northwest, where abundant salmon runs once sustained a thriving Native American population and culture. Today the Columbia River is recognized as one of the most carcinogenic rivers in America where abandoned industrial sites leach pollution into the waters each day and the salmon runs are a fraction of their former glory. Columbia Riverkeeper takes a multimedia approach—from fighting to reduce mercury from air pollution to heavy metals in stormwater—to expose Toxic Hotspots and reduce the threats of toxic pollution.

Aerial view of a pollution plume from a sewage plant pipe extending into the Columbia, directly above a traditional salmon fishing area. CRK is conducting extensive tests on discharges for pharmaceuticals and hormone-changing chemicals.

Toxic Threats: The Columbia River is inundated with toxic threats: heavy metals, such as mercury, chromium, and lead; so-called “legacy pollutants,” such as PCB, DDT, and TCE that are leaching from industrial sites; and emerging pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals and endrocrine disrupting chemicals, the discharge of which are largely unregulated. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a report in January 2009 that concluded that the Columbia River exceeds the safe level for PCBs, DDT, mercury, and flame retardants. See The Columbian, “Columbia basin toxins ‘troubling.’” A previous EPA report showed that toxic concentrations in fish are so high in some sections of the Columbia that Native Americans now face a 1 in 50 risk of cancer just from eating Columbia River fish.

Exposing the Problem: CRK’s strives to identify the sources of toxic pollution, expose the problem, and fight for solutions.

Strengthening Permits to Reduce Toxins: A recent CRK study showed that the states of Oregon and Washington were together permitting the legal discharge of over 167 billion gallons of toxic discharges per year from just the 26 largest polluters on the Columbia. These discharges, which represent only a portion of the pollution entering the Columbia, dump over 7.4 millions pounds of toxics ranging from arsenic and cyanide to dioxin and zinc into the Columbia each year. Since that study, CRK has pressured state regulators to reduce the pollution and CRK has brought legal challenges against the most egregious polluters.

Stormwater’s Role: Stormwater is a leading cause of toxic pollution in the Columbia River and waterbodies throughout the United States. Stormwater contributes heavy metals, PCBs, and legacy pollutions such as DDT and DDEs. CRK is fighting for stronger stormwater pollution control laws in Oregon and Washington. Moreover, CRK’s Clean Water Enforcement work strives to bring industrial storm water polluters into compliance with the law.

Advocating for Increased Monitoring: CRK also plays a pivotal role in advocating for increased monitoring to exposing emerging pollutants, such as fire retardants. Click here to learn more about CRK’s efforts to increase toxics monitoring in Oregon and Washington.

Reducing Toxics: CRK’s strategy for reducing toxics in the Columbia addresses legacy, existing and potential sources of toxic pollution. Here are some highlights of CRK’s work:

Legacy Sources: Along with our partners in the Rosemere Neighborhood Association, CRK works extensively on one of the worst existing Toxic Hotspots on the Columbia – the Alcoa aluminum mill. Rosemere serves a predominantly low-income and minority population that is most affected by Alcoa. After years of pressure from CRK and Rosemere, Alcoa is cleaning up highly toxic PCB-contaminated sediment in front of the mill at this moment. However, the fight is far from over. CRK conducted a study on clam tissue just a mile downstream from Alcoa that shows unsafe levels of PCBs in clams. Southeast Asian immigrants harvest the clams, greatly increasing cancer and other health problems. Using the chemical signature of the PCBs, CRK has identified Alcoa as the source of the downstream PCBs, and we are working to force Alcoa to clean up the toxics. For more information on Hanford’s toxic legacy, click here.
Existing Sources: Two hundred miles upstream from Alcoa, an existing coal power plant at Boardman has evaded the Clean Air Act for decades by not installing modern pollution controls. CRK and allies began a strategic grassroots campaign along with a legal action to force Oregon’s worst source of mercury, asthma-causing particulates, and haze to install modern pollution controls. CRK is represented by the environmental law clinic at Lewis and Clark Law School, the Pacific Environmental Advocacy Center. To learn more about CRK’s efforts to reduce toxics from existing sources, visit the Clean Water Enforcement and Toxic Hotspots pages. CRK is also member of Oregon’s Fish Consumption Rulemaking Working Group and EPA’s Columbia River Toxics Reduction Work Group.

Threats of New Sources: Our Toxic Hotspots work includes preventing the unprecedented onslaught of dirty energy projects in the Columbia River Estuary, including proposals for new coal-fired powers plants and LNG terminals and pipelines. In 2008, CRK celebrated after defeating the proposed Kalama coal plant. The coal plant would have discharged 8 million gallons of wastewater and the equivalent air pollution of 750,000 cars into the Vancouver, Washington airshed.


Dead zone in gulf linked to ethanol production

While the BP oil spill has been labeled the worst environmental catastrophe in recent U.S. history, a biofuel is contributing to a Gulf of Mexico "dead zone" the size of New Jersey that scientists say could be every bit as harmful to the gulf.

Each year, nitrogen used to fertilize corn, about a third of which is made into ethanol, leaches from Midwest croplands into the Mississippi River and out into the gulf, where the fertilizer feeds giant algae blooms. As the algae dies, it settles to the ocean floor and decays, consuming oxygen and suffocating marine life.

Known as hypoxia, the oxygen depletion kills shrimp, crabs, worms and anything else that cannot escape. The dead zone has doubled since the 1980s and is expected this year to grow as large as 8,500 square miles and hug the Gulf Coast from Alabama to Texas.

As to which is worse, the oil spill or the hypoxia, "it's a really tough call," said Nathaniel Ostrom, a zoologist at Michigan State University. "There's no real answer to that question."

Some scientists fear the oil spill will worsen the dead zone, because when oil decomposes, it also consumes oxygen. New government estimates on Thursday indicated that the BP oil spill had gushed as much as 141 million gallons since an oil-rig explosion and well blowout on April 20 that killed 11 workers.

Read more:

Energy Efficiency: Twice the Impact of Renewables, Nuclear and Clean Coal. Combined.

"The International Energy Agency estimates that energy efficiency will deliver 65 per cent of worldwide carbon cuts in the energy sector by 2020, and 54 per cent by 2030. This means that in 2020 energy efficiency could have almost twice the impact of renewable energy, nuclear power and clean coal combined."

Such were findings of the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) of Australia, who late last month released report entitled Energy Efficiency: Australia's Low Carbon Opportunity, with the subhead of Boost Profits, Cut Emissions, Create Jobs. The EEC believe that increasing the uptake of energy efficiency could save more greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 than taking every Australian car off the road.

The Energy Efficiency Council also point out that Australian electricity prices are about to rise up to 42% in the next three years, as energy utilities gear up to spend $40 billion AUD over five years expanding the grid. The EEC say customers will wear the flow on of this, the single largest ever investment in the electricity grid. A cost that could be avoided were energy efficiency given more importance.

More information can be found at:

Fireworks Toll on the Environment

The rockets’ red glare during a fireworks show can fill onlookers with patriotism and awe. Unfortunately, it can also fill them with a variety of chemicals, many of which are toxic to humans. From the gunpowder that fuels their flight to the metallic compounds that color their explosions, fireworks contain substances that can seep into the soil and water, not to mention the lung-clogging smoke they release and plastic debris they scatter.

But fireworks shows are woven into the fabric of the United States—they were popular here even before the country won its independence—and it’s not like they happen every day. Is an occasional peppering of perchlorates (salts derived from perchloric acid) really a big deal compared with all the industrial pollution U.S. waterways have been dealt over the years?

Maybe not, but it’s still not entirely clear how fireworks affect environmental or human health. While they haven’t been linked to any widespread outbreaks of disease, it’s not always easy to pin down why someone developed hypothyroidism, anemia or cancer. What is known is that, although they’re fleeting and infrequent, fireworks shows spray out a toxic concoction that rains down quietly into lakes, rivers and bays throughout the country. As economists become more aware and continue to do more research on the affects of fireworks, we could possibly see a change in how fireworks are made and where they are being held.

Nation's Stormwater Experts Meet to Fight Water Pollution:

The world's largest stormwater conference is being held August 1-5, 2010, at the JW Marriot San Antonio Hill County in San Antionio, Texas. The conference is being called StormCon and will cover how surface water pollution can be prevented, how it travels once it has occurred and how to filter it. Experts from all over the country will be attending the conference to find solutions to meeting EPA standards.

The conference will include over 100 education sessions taught be over 150 of the nation's leading stormwater experts. Some of the attendees include:

Home Depot
US Geological Survey
US Air Force
Texas A&M
Brown & Caldwell
AMEC Earth and Environmental
University of California

For more information, please visit:

Columbia River

The Columbia runs from Rocky Mountains in British Columbia, Canada and flows south into Washington and then west between Washington and Oregon ending in the Pacific Ocean. The Columbia River is the 4th largest river in the U.S. and its heavy flow and steep gradient gives it potential for generation of electricity. The Columbia River is used to create hydro electrical energy and its one of the most developed systems in the world. It has hundreds of dams that run along the river bringing power to towns near by. These structures have made it possible for North westerners to be able to purchase electricity half the average U.S. price.
The Columbia is also a great place to find Salmon and Northern Squaw-fish as well as the Caspian terns. Part of the greatness of the Columbia includes the Multnomah Falls which is the 2nd highest year-round waterfall in the USA. Along the Columbia there are many activities available like camping, hiking, windsurfing, fishing, boating, etc. You can also find the Columbia River Maritime Museum located in Astoria Oregon.