Water: The ultimate resource of life

By PSU EcoMerge Capstone - 11:23 PM

Its unfortunate that we take something so essential for our way of life, in fact our very existence so lightly, as if it does not hold the value it does. This specific elixir of life that I am talking of is Water. Chemically described as H2O, aqua. Evolutionary biologists, along with several Greek Philosophers believe all life started with water. Anyways, it is important to understand the different variety of water and the state of these waters all around us. Before we dive into our pool of water pollution facts, it will be helpful to do a quick review of the different types of water in general:

Ocean Water: The vast majority of water on the planet is the salt water in the oceans and seas.

Fresh Surface Water: This is the fresh water in rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and similar bodies of water. (Almost all of these contain fresh water, though a few picture of spring/stream lakes contain salty water.) Technically, the world's ice caps and glaciers also fall into this category , and actually contain very, very large amounts of fresh water.

Groundwater: The majority of the planet's liquid freshwater is stored in underground aquifers. It's important to remember that groundwater pollution is very difficult to treat, and it doesn't just "flush out" on its own. Water that enters an aquifer remains there for an average of 1,400 years!

WATER POLLUTION FACTS FOR THE UNITED STATES

Water Pollution Fact #1

40% of America's rivers are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.

Water Pollution Fact #2

Even worse are America's lakes—46% are too polluted for fishing, swimming, or aquatic life.

Water Pollution Fact #3

Two-thirds of US estuaries and bays are either moderately or severely degraded from eutrophication (nitrogen and phosphorus pollution).

Water Pollution Fact #4

The Mississippi River—which drains nearly 40% of the continental United States, including its central farm lands—carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year. The resulting hypoxic coastal dead zone in the Gulf each summer is about the size of Massachusetts.

Endangered Rivers

The river-protection group American Rivers lists the primary water pollution threats for U.S rivers:
-- Polluted runoff from roads, parking lots, and neighborhood lawns
-- Runoff from farms (pesticides, fertilizers, and animal waste)
-- Livestock damage to riparian areas (reduces near-stream filtering abilities)
-- Logging and mining operations

Of the 1200 species listed as threatened or endangered, 50% depend on rivers and streams. At least 123 freshwater species became extinct during the 20th century.

Source: American Rivers - River Facts page

Water Pollution Fact #5

1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, stormwater, and industrial waste are discharged into US waters annually. The US EPA has warned that sewage levels in rivers could be back to the super-polluted levels of the 1970s by the year 2016.

Water Pollution Fact #6

In any given year, about 25% of beaches in the US are under advisories or are closed at least one time because of water pollution.

This has just been a small overview of the pollution insults our waterways are suffering. When we remember that water is the stuff of life, we see that this is an insult to us, too. Given the grim situation and all the information I have come across over the course of the last few months, it has become more important to me to imply the technique of representational rediscription even if it means to say the same thing over and over again.

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