Water Pollution

Water pollution is caused by contamination in rivers, oceans, streams, lakes, wetlands, and other water sources. The most significant contamination of water pollution happens in rivers and streams, followed by wetlands and lakes.

Water pollution is devastating because it can kill organisms that live in the water such as fish, birds, dolphins, crabs and it can also kill birds that eat the fish. When water pollution happens, it can cause animals to lose their homes and have to change habitats and it causes the food chain to deplete.

Water Pollution Facts for Kids

  • Natural disasters can cause water pollution
  • Construction can cause silt, or waste, to get into the water supplies.
  • Each year 3.5 million people die from water-related diseases
  • Just 1% of Earth’s water is used for drinking and food preparation
  • Almost 800 million people lack even basic drinking water in the world
  • Factories can waste a lot of water and then when they dump the water that was used to clean their equipment or to process chemicals, that water often times gets into the water supply.
  • Even using soap can cause water pollution.
  • More than 30% of rivers and lakes that are found in the United States are full of pollution and do not have fish.
  • Acid rain pollutes the water.  Acid rain happens when sulfur dioxide gets into the rain particles.  This type of rain can kill fish and animals.
  • Oil spills cause water pollution.  When oil spills happen, many animals and fish die, and the water becomes undrinkable for a long, long time.
  • Some different types of water pollution happen from sewage, animal waste, pesticides, construction, and factories.

Causes of Water Pollution?

Humans are the leading cause, and we do this in many different ways

Dumping of industrial waste – types of industrial waste dumped into rivers and landfills include toxic chemicals, trash, dirt, gravel, construction sites, cafeteria garbage, solvents, oil spills, hazardous spills, and similar rubbish.

Farming – fertilizers and contaminants like pesticides can enter into the water supply reducing water quality levels.

Sewage – leakages can be prevented; it costs million to improve sewage treatment. But, to regulate sources of pollution is up to the local government.

Natural occurrences such as storms can cause significant changes in water quality and overwhelm and pollute storm drains that flow to creeks and rivers.

Stormwater flooding picks up oil and other contaminants before freely flowing into streams and rivers.


How Does Water Pollution Hurt the Earth?

Clean water is essential. Water pollutants can be harmful to fish, animals, and drinking polluted water can cause people to develop illnesses.

When waterways such as streams are polluted, this can have a devastating effect on fish, there isn’t enough oxygen for them to breath, and it can affect the food chain if the fish absorb these pollutants.

When we have excessive rain from storms, for example. The sewer system may not be able to handle the volume of water.  Raw sewage can overflow from the system, and discharge into a nearby water body untreated. This is called point source pollution and is very harmful to the environment.

80% of wastewater is discarded back into rivers and streams, mostly untreated, which is not suitable for the environment.

Does Water Pollution Make People Sick?

The Earth is made up of over 70% of the Earth and it is an important resource for people, plants, and animals.  The water can come from rivers, oceans, lakes, groundwater, aquifers, and more.  All of this water is needed because as long as people are alive, they have to have water to drink.

Most people need a lot of water per day to drink and to cook with.  Even bathing in dirty water can cause people to get sick.

There are billions of people on the Earth and having polluted water can make people sick.  Dirty water mostly will hurt young children and elderly people because they cannot fight off the bacteria that the polluted water has.

How Can We Help to Make Clean and Safe Water?

It is important for people to try to save water as much as possible.  It is important to try to take shorter showers and not to keep water running when it isn’t being used.

Using chemicals such as pesticides and weed killer can get into the water supply.  People can use these in little bits so that it does not pollute the water.

When you throw away garbage, make sure that you put it into the trash and not let it get into the water.  Never throw your garbage in the ocean or the lake when you are visiting or fishing.


Useful Links

Environmental Protection Agency – Clean water act

NDRC – Water Pollution: Everything You Need to Know

What Did You Learn?

  • What is water pollution?  Water pollution is water that has become dirty from chemicals or other particles that get into the water.
  • What causes water pollution?  Water pollution is caused by people, natural disasters, oil spills, acid rain, volcanoes, factories, and animal waste.
  • What happens when there is too much pollution in the water?  When there is too much pollution in the water, fish can die, animals that eat the fish can get sick and people can get sick and not have water to drink that is safe.
  • Who does water pollution hurt the most?  Water pollution hurts young children and the elderly the most because they cannot fight off the bacteria found in the water.
  • How much percentage of the Earth is covered in water?  Over 70% of the Earth is covered in water.