Describe effects of water pollution. 1) What is eutrophication? Eutrophication is the mechanism which any body of water such as a river, stream, estuaries, lake or the sea gets contaminated by excess nutrients such as nitrates and phosphates which causes an accelerated rate of plant growth, sometimes called an algal bloom. The accelerated growth and proliferation of plant life, algae and phytoplankton decreases the availability of light and dissolved oxygen in the water column. As a direct result of the increased plant life and the accumulation of dead decaying plant matter dissolved oxygen levels are further decreased since the bacteria that readily decomposes the organic matter also require oxygen to live (Thinkquest, 2005). When oxygen levels fall below a threshold level, fish and other aquatic animals cannot survive which is a condition is called hypoxia. Eutrophication can have many adverse effects on the biodiversity and ability to survive of many native organisms (Oregonstate, 2011). Opportunistic organisms, such as algae and cyanobacteria, cause undue stress on the fragile aquatic environment and disrupt the natural ecological balance of any aquatic environment. Therefore as a direct result many species get stressed to the point of completely dying, while sometimes being replaced by invading or opportunistic species.
2) What is the difference between cultural and natural eutrophication?
Most eutrophication in our bodies of water is directly caused by human infringement upon the environment and the nutrient, pesticide and chemical runoff coming directly from industrial activities, sewage treatment plants and with the main culprit being industrial farming and cattle production. On the other side natural eutrophication occurs when sediments add decaying matter is naturally deposited by the natural erosion caused by rain and water flow. Seasonal flooding, such as in flood planes and valleys also carry a large influx of sediments, decaying matter and excrement from animal life which can provide a large natural source of eutrophication of any body of water. The contamination created by the choking plant matter. Low oxygen levels and increased sedimentation can also affect water quality levels and cause the water to become toxic and unfit for human consumption.
3) How do you combat eutrophication?
Efforts to control water pollution and eutrophication have been a hotly debated issue since the 20th century. In order to control the impact of human activity to our water resources careful planning, assessment and control of fertilizer use, controlling runoff from farms and cattle ranches. These procedures limit the use of pesticides and fertilizers to prevent toxic buildups on the soil that will eventually reach any bodies of water in the area. Prevention is the best strategy in order to prevent further damage to the environment and pinpointing all large sources of nutrient runoff and contamination around our water sources and addressing them in an environmentally responsible matter will serve to minimize and reverse the impact in many of our aquatic environments. Water is one of the most precious and valuable natural resources due to the fact that it is needed for the survival of human beings. Governmental agencies around the world have to do a better job of safeguarding and protecting our water resources. “Water pollution prevention and control measures are critical to improving water quality and reducing the need for costly wastewater and drinking water treatment” (Epa, 2011).
Epa.gov (2011). Pollution Control. Retrieved December 17, 2011 from http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/
Oregonstate.edu (2011). Eutrophication. Retrieved December 15, 2011 from http://people.oregonstate.edu/~muirp/eutrophi.htm
Thinkquest.com (2005). Eutrophication. Retrieved December 15, 2011 from http://library.thinkquest.org/04oct/01590/pollution/eutrophication.