Research shows that abundant water resources are located in a large part of North America including a big part of them in the United States. Despite being the richest nation in terms of water resources, the United States is currently facing challenges of ensuring every person to receive good enough quality of drinking water, and other domestic purposes. Various causes have contributed to these challenges. Researchers find that water consumption per person in the United States is so high, that it makes water sustainability management difficult. The major cause of water crisis in the United States is pollution. It is argued that because of the increasing number of industries coupled with increasing population, the volume of industrial wastewater and domestic water being released into water ecosystem is increasing every day.
Causes of Water Pollution in the United States
The Great Lakes are major sources of water in the United States. Currently they are at a risk of water pollution (Liroff ). Liroff argues that the lakes are deteriorating at an alarming rate because of effects of toxic chemicals that are disposed through industrial and domestic water disposal. According to Steven et al., Onondaga Lake is the most polluted lake in New York (22). By the end of the 20th century, records showed the lake had been reduced to a disposal site for industrial and domestic wastewaters generated in its watersheds. As the lake was polluted, its main tributary, River Seneca has been also polluted.
According to Joyce, a new method of collecting shale gas using hydraulic fractioning has appeared that is commonly known as fracking (24). Many companies are exploiting water resources in search of shale gas. Despite the gas being an economic asset, the method of its collection is causing adverse effects on water resources. Application of this method causes pollution of the water with toxic, flammable chemicals. The effects are so adverse that running water from taps, which has been polluted by fracking can light if ignited. Apart from polluting water, this process also pollutes underground water and aquifers. Through fracking, huge amounts of soil and debris are produced and increase the extent of water pollution.
Another main pollutant of water in America is mining activities. According to Alexandra, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA) has given a mandate to army corps to issue permits of disposing fill materials in water bodies (755). However, the corps sometimes go overboard and issue permission of disposing other wastes from the miners. As a result, mining, especially at the mountaintops has caused much pollution in the waters by wastes that are dumped into it. This has forced the environmental and other community groups to march to court in protest, urging EPA to be more responsible and accountable of the activities causing detrimental effects on water and other environmental resources. According to Handelman, the hydro plants generating electricity from water bodies are posing a threat to this resource (2). Since many rivers are polluted, people are choosing to buy water from lakes that have not been polluted. According to Handelman, this could pose a major threat to water resources, as it will open ways for industries and other water consuming factories to target lakes as the main source of water for commercial purposes (2). As a result, the water will be sold unsustainably, which eventually will lead to most of the lakes drying up if not well monitored and managed.
As Laura points out, the sewage piping in the United States is over 100 years old and has never been renovated (62). As a result, it has become out of order and during the rainy season, it is prone to many leakages that pollute the land and water bodies. According to Laura, the rainwater pouring on pavements carries many wastes that eventually end in rivers and other water bodies (62). The other main pollutant of water is pharmaceutical products. According to Isabelle, et al., the United States is the largest manufacturer of pharmaceuticals in the world (1144). The wastes of these products are mainly disposed into waters and since they have chemicals, they end up polluting the waters. Biomedical research points out that water pollution from pharmaceuticals accumulates over time and can persist for over a long period. According to George and Richard, agricultural practices if not practiced sustainably can also cause adverse effects to water resources (1084). Practices, such as intensive farming and cultivation along riverbanks can pollute rivers. Intensification of farming practices involves the application of high amounts of fertilizers that end in rivers and other water bodies as runoff during the rainy season (George, & Richard 1084).
Effects of Water Pollution in the United States
Water pollution in the United States affects people, water inhabitants, such as fish, and other wild animals. The aquatic animals that live in water are directly affected by water pollution. According to Laura, the toxic chemicals, which pollute the river cause rampant growth of water hyacinths, which deprive the aquatic organisms’ oxygen (63). Some species of fish and flamingos, which are dying massively, are reported to be in the list of endangered species because of water pollution (Laura 63). As the toxic substances deposited in rivers accumulate over time, their effects on the health of aquatic organisms’ increases. The reproductive and development patterns of many aquatic animals have been altered by the level of chemicals present in water bodies.
Since people depend on water for various purposes such as direct consumption, recreation, as well as other domestic chores, they are also affected by water pollution. Water pollution causes various diseases to people such as typhoid, cholera, meningitis, and hepatitis. According to Steven and others, water pollution from toxic chemicals causes serious health problems in humans such as reproductive and developmental dysfunctions (28). The sick, elderly, infants, and pregnant women are at the highest risk of being affected by polluted water. This is because their immune system is low and hence cannot easily fight the disease-causing pathogens when they get into the body through polluted water. Fracking of water bodies to obtain shale gas is also causing detrimental effects on people as well as the aquatic life. According to Joyce, chemicals such as xylene and benzene are causing serious burns on both people and aquatic animals (25). Water polluted through fracking is not good for any domestic purpose including washing and bathing (Joyce 25). This water cannot be used for irrigation because it is burning the crops.
Efforts to Curb Water Pollution in the United States
Because of the water pollution effects, the United States government has put much effort in ensuring that water as a valuable resource is purified and protected from further pollution. According to Ferris, the United States government is setting limits on levels of chemicals found in drinking water. A study has shown that some chemicals contained in the drinking water can cause developmental problem in fetuses. As Liroff explains, water pollution has gone down in the United States after the government’s implementation of innovative technologies to purify polluted waters (23). Both public sector and communities in the United States have shown efforts to clean polluted rivers and put an end to domestic and industrial water pollution.
EPA together with the United States government is involving community in environmental protection and rehabilitation activities. Community-based approach is the best in water rehabilitation initiatives as the community gets a chance of understanding the importance of water as a valuable resource. According to Steven and others, Lake Onondaga and river Seneca have been successfully cleaned through innovative and water treatment technologies (32). The project to clean the lake was successful because it involved the surrounding communities. To mitigate pollution effects from pharmaceuticals, the United States government is urging pharmacists to manufacture green drugs, which have little or no effect on the environment. According to Isabelle and others, the United State Government has requested the pharmacists to collect the unwanted as well as the unused drugs from clients for proper dumping (1147).
As highlighted earlier, water pollution in the United States is one of the biggest challenges faced by the Government. Water resources are constantly polluted by industrial and domestic wastewater. Mining and unsustainable agricultural practices are also causing water pollution. Pharmaceutical products, fracking for gas, and hydro plants are posing a great threat to this valuable resource. The effects of water pollution on aquatic life, wild animals, and human beings are dreadful. Many are spending much treating water-related diseases, which could be prevented. When such a problem arises, the most affected are the poor who lack means to clean water even for their consumption. As a result, the United States government and EPA have put much effort in rehabilitating water as a resource. They have taken a community-based approach to ensure that communities are aware of water importance, and hence restrain from polluting it in the future. It is recommended for every individual to take responsibility of cleaning water resources and report any violation of environmental laws, that regulate resource use. Otherwise, it may be hard for EPA and the United States Government to achieve purification of water.