Water Pollution

EPA estimates 4.5 ________ liters of contaminated water seeps into the groundwater every day. 50% of the people in the US depend on groundwater for their water supplies.

Damage to US water bodies

  • 44% _________
  • 37% rivers
  • 32% estuaries

The biggest source of water pollution is _______________ with the runner up being industrial and mining activities.


Types and Effects of Water Pollution

1. Inorganic Chemicals- Heavy _________: Mercury, Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic and Aluminum, Nutrients, Pesticides, Wastes. Many metals bioaccumulate causing problems farther up the food chain.

2. Agricultural Waste and Human Sewage

A. Cultural Eutrophication- excess nutrients such as nitrates and ____________ from human (fertilizers, detergents or __________) or animal sources (waste run off) cause rapid _______________ growth on the water surface. Algae have the population explosion with all the additional food. When the plankton die and sink to the bottom, ___________ (aerobic decomposers) metabolize the available DO (Dissolved Oxygen) as they decompose the dead algae. The high ______ (Biological Oxygen Demand) from the decomposers lower the oxygen level in the water so much that fish suffocate. Water becomes __________.

Solutions include planting vegetation along streambeds, controlling the fertilizer application and ________ _________ runoff.

Hypoxic- septic zone of deadly low DO. Less than ____ ppm. The mouth of the Mississippi has a HUGE dead zone- over 5,000 square miles. This is caused by agriculture fertilizer and sewage run off and well as human sewage.

Solutions include reducing fertilizer use, controling animal waste, sewage treatment facilities.

B. Red Tide- dense algal blooms containing _______________ accumulate in the marine food chain and decimate marine life. Causes paralysis and death in humans.

C. Pathogenic Organisms and Human Health- (most from food contaminated with ________)

  • Coliform bacteria test: E. coli bacteria is indication of human _________ in drinking water. Fecal bacteria can carry ___________ causing bacteria such as:
    • Cholera
    • Typhoid Fever
    • Giardia- protozoan
  • Dysentery- amoeba or bacteria
  • Hepatitis A- virus
  • Schistosomiasis- blood fluke spread by __________

90% of drug prescription pass through humans. Wide spread use of antibiotics and growth hormones in animal farms poison local waterways.

3. Oil Spills- leaking oil tankers and dumping oil down storm drains.

  • 3-6 million metric ______/year
  • Exxon Valdeez- ____ million gallons of oil effected 1000 miles of shoreline and killed 300,000 birds and 2500 sea otters.
    • By 2015 all tankers must have double _______.
  • The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill is the largest in America at 206 million gallons covering 68,000 square miles.
  • Ocean Spill Prevention and Liability Act- Trust fund from oil _____ helps clean up oil spills.

An interesting fact is that road runoff of oil (and other nonspill sources) account for __ times more discharge than the Exxon Valdeez.

Storage tanks leak oil and dangerous chemical additives into the groundwater too.

4. Thermal- hot water from industrial and power plants. Dissolved Oxygen ___________, organisms die from ______ temperatures and low oxygen. Indian point nuclear power plant emits thermal pollution.

5. Air Pollution can cause water pollution for items such as _________, sulfur dioxide, nitric oxide and ammonia. CO2 is causing problems too by increasing the acidification of oceans and causing ________, shelled animals and zooplankton made from calcium carbonate to dissolve.

6. Plastic pollution is a big issue in the North Pacific Ocean. A large system of rotating ocean currents carry a floating debris plastic waste the size of ________. As the plastic degrades it enters the marine food chain and results in bioaccumulation of toxins. The larger pieces of plastic also kill birds and turtles who mistake it for food.


Monitoring Water Quality:

Point vs non point sources:

Point- from specific location such as pipe that dumps pollution directly into the water

___________- from over a large area such as runoff such as agricultural fields.

1. Chemical Tests-

  • BOD: biological oxygen demand: amount of dissolved oxygen needed by ___________ to absorb oxygen from water
  • Dissolved Oxygen: measures the amount of dissolved oxygen in water and how much life the water can hold: ______ water holds more than _______ water)
  • Turbidity (the density of suspended ________ in the water)
  • pH (normal water is 6-8 pH)
  • Hardness (the measure of _______ and magnesium)
  • Nitrates
  • Phosphates

2. Aquatic Species Monitoring

A. Pollution intolerant (highly ___________ to pollution): Stonefly nymph, mayfly nymph, water penny and caddis fly larva

B. Somewhat pollution tolerant (mildly polluted water okay): beetle larvae, crane fly larvae, clams, crayfish, dragonfly nymph, damselfly nymph, black fly larvae

C. Pollution tolerant (tolerates __________ polluted waters): midge larva, snails, leech, aquatic worms


Water Pollution Control or Lack there of:

1. Sewage "treatment"- 95% of sewage in undeveloped countries goes directly into ________ bodies! Agh! In the US, 850 billion gallons of raw sewage goes directly into lakes, rivers and bays from faulty sewage treatment. 25% of the __________ in the US get closed or have advisories against use due to the presence of sewage bacteria.

2. Water Legislation: Clean Water Act of 1972- sets as national goal to make all surface water fishable and swimmable.

  • Required permits for _________ source pollution.
  • Funded the construction of municipal sewage treatment plants.
    • Grit chamber (muffin monster): screens out ______ debris
    • Primary treatment tanks: 60% suspended solids and organic waste (called sludge) removed by skimmers.
      • Sludge is dehydrated and compressed into sludge _______ and landfilled.
    • Aeration tanks: biological treatment of water! Trickling filters or rotating drums allow aerobic ______ to digest waste
    • Secondary treatment tanks
    • Tertiary treatment- Chlorine disinfects the water (kills the _______)
    • Release into nearby streams or ground water
  • No pesticides, salts or __________ material is taken out.

3. Other forms of water remediation- Constructed ___________ ,deep well injection, and private septic tanks.

  • Private wastewater treatment involves leach fields in which the waste water drains through layers of ________ thus cleaning it. Clay (New Paltz soil) is NOT very porous.

4. Ocean Dumping Act- 1972. It is now unlawful to dump ________ into ocean waters.

5. Safe Drinking Water Act- 1974. Monitors and increases safety of drinking water supply.

6. Hydraulic Fracturing- "Fracking". Natural gas removal can destroy groundwater purity because a huge array of _________ chemicals are injected into the ground, removed (along with salts and radioactive elements) and then stored in tanks of questionable impermeability. Then the toxins are injected deep into the ground again. Lax environmental regulation leaves a lot of room for _________. Yikes!