This essay performs an in-depth analysis of water pollution by looking at its causes, effects, and how it can be controlled. The main objective of this essay is to propose a feasible solution to water pollution that the federal and state governments can adopt and implement in order to reduce water pollution that results from industrial effluents.
Environmental pollution is a major socio-economic problem faced by communities in almost all nations across the globe. Environmental pollution refers to the introduction of harmful substances, usually referred to as contaminants or pollutants, into the environment that are likely to cause harm to living organisms or create imbalance in the natural ecosystem. Hodges defines environmental pollution as an introduction of substances into the surrounding environment that can or is likely to cause harm to living organisms such as plants and animals. Environmental contaminants or pollutants may take various forms such as chemicals, noise, solid particles, destructive energy, and gaseous particles. According to Schell and Melinda, environmental pollution is usually caused by human activities. Environmental pollution usually results into destruction of ecosystems, thus leading to harm, death, or discomfort of living organisms. For example, pollution of rivers by chemicals from industries usually leads to death of fish and other aquatic animals.
According to Roberson, environmental pollution can be divided into three major categories namely air pollution, water pollution, and land pollution (17). Air pollution refers to emission of substances, such as dust, smoke, carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, into the atmosphere in amounts or concentrations that are likely to cause harm or endanger health of living organisms, whereas water pollution refers to the introduction of chemical compounds and solid wastes into water bodies. Water pollution usually results from a variety of sources or human activities such as agricultural activities like spraying pesticides on crops, sewerage discharges from domestic homes, chemical discharges from industrial companies and manufacturing plants, and oil spills from ships. On the other hand, land pollution refers to degradation of the quality of land through destructive agricultural practices, dumping of solid wastes, or excessive exploitation of mineral resources.
Water Pollution by Industries
Water pollution is the process by which pollutants, such as chemical compounds and solid wastes, are ejected or released either directly or indirectly into water bodies such as lakes, ponds, streams, and rivers. Wong defines water pollution as the process by which water bodies such as lakes, rivers, and oceans become contaminated by various pollutants. A comprehensive definition suggested by Allin defines water pollution as a direct or indirect introduction of substances that cause or are likely to cause harm to organisms living in water bodies and human beings or reduce the usefulness of such water resources. Pollution of water bodies often renders the water useless to human beings and also puts the lives of aquatic organisms in danger. Lerner asserts that particles introduced into water bodies often become pollutants due to lack of proper treatment of industrial effluents to remove harmful components or compounds they contain (238). According to Alloway and Ayres, water pollution is a major global problem that leads to death of millions of people and aquatic animals as well as destruction of thousands of aquatic plants every year. In the United States of America, manufacturing firms and other related industries contribute to more than sixty percent of water pollution whereas domestic wastes and agricultural activities contribute to twenty five percent and eighteen percent of water pollution respectively every year. This clearly indicates that industries are the major contributors of water pollution in the United States. Thus, there is great need to control water pollution by industries.
Causes of Water Pollution by Industries
According to Allin, industries or manufacturing plants are the largest source of water pollution. Most industries usually produce and discharge harmful wastes such as asbestos, oils and petroleum products into water bodies resulting into water pollution. Most water pollutants from industries are metallic wastes such as mercury and lead, chemicals wastes like sulfates and nitrates and solid wastes. Lerner further asserts that chemical wastes form the largest part of pollutants discharged into water bodies by industries.
Effects of Water Pollution
Water pollution usually results in a decrease of sunlight and reduced circulation of oxygen in the water, thus leading to death of aquatic organisms. Water pollution also leads to death of human beings. Lerner estimates that water pollution causes nearly six hundred thousand deaths in the United States of America annually (286). This accounts for approximately twenty five percent of global deaths caused by water pollution. Solid wastes discharged into water bodies often accumulate in the water thereby altering aquatic habitats or ecosystems.
Why Water Pollution by Industries should be Controlled
Water pollution by industrial effluents from companies should be controlled because most pollutants or compounds present in the effluents are the major causes of many diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, amoebic dysentery and cancer. Certain metallic compounds in industrial effluents such as mercury and lead also cause nervous disorders that lead to death of thousands of people. In addition, various chemical compounds present in most industrial effluents usually facilitate the growth of algae and other weeds in water bodies. This leads to reduced circulation of oxygen in water, hence threatening the lives of aquatic organisms such as fish and reptiles.
Proposed Solution for Preventing, Controlling and Managing Water Pollution by Industries
In my opinion, water pollution caused by industries can be prevented, controlled, and managed through adoption of appropriate water pollution management policies. The federal and state governments should develop, formulate and implement appropriate policies that aim at reducing water pollution caused by industrial effluents. For example, the federal and state governments should put into place policies and legislations that provide severe punishments to industries that fail to comply with environmental pollution management policies. The federal and state governments should formulate policies that require all industries to treat their effluents properly before discharging them into water bodies. Moreover, all industrial discharges should undergo testing and analysis by environmental experts and water engineers to determine their level of toxicity and chemical composition before being discharged into water bodies.
In addition to existing legislations and policies such as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act of 1948 and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974, the federal and state governments should ensure that new Acts or laws are developed and enforced to regulate the conduct of industries in relation to water pollution. New policies that facilitate adoption of efficient and cheaper methods of controlling water pollution should also be formulated and implemented by the federal and state governments to prevent industries from polluting water bodies with their effluents. Moreover, all existing Acts and policies should be amended and fully enforced to ensure that water pollution by industrial effluents is greatly reduced, control and well managed.
Alternatively, water pollution by industrial effluents can also be controlled by requiring all manufacturing firms or industries to invest heavily in pollution control equipment in order to ensure that the effluents discharged from such industries are harmless and does not contain destructive chemicals or compounds, thus cannot cause water pollution. Individual industries should also be encouraged to find alternative destinations for their industrial effluents other than water bodies, for example, industries may drill ponds into which they discharge their effluents and wastes. This would help in reducing the amount of industrial effluents discharged into water bodies, hence minimizing water pollution.
In my opinion, the federal and state governments should impose heavy penalties on industries that fail to treat their effluents satisfactorily before discharging them into water bodies. Heavy penalties would scare off industries from violating or ignoring environmental pollution management laws as well as encouraging industries to adopt effective waste management methods. Industries should also be encouraged to recycle water so that the rate of water consumption by the firms is reduced or controlled.
How Development and Implementation of New Water Pollution Policies would help in Addressing Water Pollution by Industries
In my view, development and implementation of appropriate policies to regulate water pollution by industries would help in minimizing water pollution because most industries would be discouraged and prevented from discharging their untreated effluents into water bodies. The new policies would also provide appropriate guidelines on how to manage industrial wastes. Moreover, industries would also become more responsible and accountable for their actions in relation to environmental conservation and preservation and pollution control.
Proof of Ability of the Proposal to Achieve Desired Outcomes
For my part, development and implementation of appropriate water pollution control policies would facilitate prevention and control of water pollution by industries because companies will be forced to comply with the policies, failure to which they would risk losing their operating licenses. As Borchers and Thompson affirm, enforcement of laws regulating environmental pollution by the federal and state governments can only be successful if appropriate policies and guidelines are laid down. In addition, imposition of heavy fines and penalties on industries that fail to abide by the policies and regulations on water pollution is likely to compel all industries to conform to the new policies, hence increasing chances of achieving the desired outcomes, which is reduced water pollution by industries.
Although some people argue that prevention and control of water pollution by industries should be managed by the individual industries and environmental conservation agencies only, I would argue that it is the responsibility of all concerned parties and environmental stakeholders to ensure that all forms of pollution of the environment are prevented, controlled and properly managed. Thus, leaving the sole responsibility to prevent water pollution to individual industries would only worsen the situation. Therefore, the federal and state governments, industries, environmental conservation and protection agencies and other stakeholders must all work together and collaboratively to ensure that water pollution by industrial effluents is highly reduced.
I conclude by affirming that it is important to the federal and state governments to swiftly adopt this proposal and develop and implement appropriate policies that would help in reducing water pollution by industries. As stated earlier, industrial effluents are the major source of water pollution, thus controlling industrial effluents from industries would help reduce water pollution by nearly sixty five percent. Consequently, millions of lives lost due to water pollution would be saved. In my view, a healthy environment is a prerequisite of continuity of human kind, and prevention of environmental pollution is the most appropriate way to ensure that the environment is healthy enough to support life. In addition, water bodies would also become safe havens for living organisms; hence facilitate diversity within aquatic ecosystems.