Whenever astronomers turn their gaze to the stars in search for extraterrestrial life, they are essentially searching for water. Water is a basic ingredient for life as we know it; water is both essential in the birth and maintaining of life. Despite this crucial role that water plays in our lives, many of us take it for granted as pollution continues to threaten our water sources to this day. Taking steps to understand where our water comes from and how pollution occurs is the best way towards correcting these issues and ensuring that we all have access to cleaner, healthier water.
How Much We Rely on Groundwater
Although planet Earth is covered in water, only around 3% of the world’s water supply is fresh, drinkable water. Moreover, since not everyone has access to a freshwater lake, it is estimated that 25-40% of the world’s supply of drinking water is drawn from wells and boreholes to access subterranean aquifers. In the United States over 95% of the nation’s available fresh water resources comes from groundwater with around half of the people in the nation relying on ground water for their drinking water. Since so much of the nation relies on groundwater, many are growing aware that pollution could cause a significant groundwater depletion if not controlled.
The Threat of Pollution
It is estimated that approximately 80% of water pollution is directly caused by those who throw garbage onto open ground and water bodies; this includes the 16,000 chemical spills from trucks, trains, and storage tanks that occur every year. Moreover, around 70% of industrial waste is dumped into water bodies, polluting the useable water supply. Although the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked to decrease the amount of pollution from industry, there are exceptions that have compromised water supplies in the past. For example, around 14.6% of tested wells contained levels of one if not more pesticides that were above the minimum reporting limit set according to a government survey. Not only does pollution lead to clean groundwater depletion, it may also be linked to severe medical issues as seen in the recent case of residents in Flint, Michigan whose water supplies were compromised with an abundance of lead from the Flint River.
The Call for Action
As a species we have adapted and overcome the restraints of our environment; modern water treatment is just one notable example of what human ingenuity can do. For all of its boons, the standard water treatment process can remove around 85% to 95% of pollutants from wastewater prior to disinfecting and discharging into local water ways; water treatment is unable to remove many of these pollutants however, justifying the concerns that many Americans have regarding water pollution. In order to prevent clean groundwater depletion, many cities have taken the liberty of contacting groundwater contamination remediation contractors to start a project that will help remove contaminants, raise community awareness, and ensure clean drinking water for future generations. Water is essential to life; we only have one planet, one shot to keep it clean so life can continue to flourish as it had prior to pollution.