Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Water Pollution : How we responsible?

Water is a vital resource for all living organisms and is also a habitat in its own right. Watercourses and seas have long been used as a convenient disposal area for wastes.

The effects of this use of water as a disposal route have been wide-ranging. For example, the Elbe, which flows from Czech Republic to East Germany is completely dead and the lakes and reservoirs in many Asian and Pacific countries tend to have nutrient levels ten to fifteen times higher than the world average.

Water pollution may occur from point sources, such as factories which discharge effluent according to a permit, or it may be from a non-point source, such as run-off of pesticides and fertilizer from agricultural land.

Pollution of groundwater is now also a problem, particularly where contamination with complex, long-lived organic compounds occurs. It is extremely expensive and difficult to clean up polluted groundwater.

In 1978 the Hooker Chemical Company was found liable for causing cancer in the community around Love Canal. Organic wastes, such as lindane, had been 'dumped by the company in an unmarked land-fill and seepage from the dumped waste polluted local sources of subterranean drinking water. However, it is not always so easy to identify the source of pollution and to attribute liability to those responsible. Where the person(s) responsible for the pollution cannot be found, it may be impossible for funds to be established to cover the cost of re-mediation.

Pollution of the seas and oceans is also a concern. Oil spills are the most high profile example of this. For example, the Exxon Valdez incident lead to the deaths of an estimated 33,000 birds.

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