Water Scarcity and Water Pollution
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (2012), by 2025, 1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world’s population could be living under water stressed conditions.
These facts and figures sure sound daunting. But to fully comprehend the gravity of the situation, let’s take a look at what water scarcity really is.
Water scarcity, in simple terms, is the lack of water resources to meet the demand for water within a region. It is without a doubt a pressing issue which requires immediate attention.
Water scarcity can be broken down into water shortage, water stress and water crisis. Water shortage in this context would result from pollution, over use of water and the change in weather patterns. Water shortage on the other hand is the difficulty of obtaining water. And finally, water crisis is when the available portable water is not sufficient to cater to the demand for portable water in a specific region.
As a substance which is essential for our survival, careful attention must be paid to preserve and sustain the natural water resources for the generations to come.
The factors which contribute towards the scarcity of water can be both natural and artificial. Pollution is, without a doubt, one of the main contributing factors. Even though almost every form of pollution contributes to the scarcity of water some way or the other, the primary or the direct contributor, without a doubt, is water pollution. Disposal of waste from factories and plants, discharge of oil and fuel, pesticides and chemicals used in agriculture, sewage, ocean and marine dumping are a few ways pollutants are directly or indirectly discharged into the water resources in the environment.
Water pollution adversely affects humans, animals and plants alike. Adverse effects of water pollution include disruption of food chains, death of aquatic animals, toxic rainfall, and adverse effects on the human health would extend from diseases to deformities to even death.
What’s daunting is that the effects of water pollution will last not only for a couple of days or weeks, but could possibly last for years or even decades.
Water Pollution – Major Incidents around the World
A few examples for major incidents that resulted in polluting water are as follows.
- China – In 2010, the explosion of a pipeline resulted in a major oil spill in the Yellow Sea in China causing a 50 square kilometer belt of oil to stretch through the water.
- Japan – In 2011 the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster resulted in leaking radioactive water into the surrounding ocean.
- USA – In 2015, The Gold King mine waste water spill caused the release of toxic waste water into the Animas River watershed.
Prevention is better than cure?
Let alone situations as complex as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, almost each and every individual in the society intentionally or unintentionally pollutes water on a daily basis. However, as individuals who are a part and parcel of the society, following the below mentioned steps can reduce the rate of water pollution to a great extent.
- Recycling and reusing items that will otherwise end up in water resources
- Usage of environmentally friendly cleaning products
- Not throwing chemicals, oils, paints and medicines down the sink, toilets or drains
- Minimizing the use of pesticides, herbicides and inorganic fertilizers and instead, using organic fertilizers
- Avoiding the usage of the toilet as a wastebasket for tissue, wrappers etc.
- Using proper sewage treatment systems to prevent the mixing of human and animal excreta with water sources
- Limiting the excess use of water
At the end of the day, polluted water is wastewater. And wastewater, simply, is water wasted.
So why not take a step or two ourselves to bring down the level of pollution and to preserve water for the generations to come?