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Water Pollution in the Great Lakes

Updated on August 6, 2014

Sources of Water Pollution

The Great Lakes have been under threat for the last two centuries, but the situation is the far worse today. It use to be believed that dumping sewage or chemicals into rivers and lakes was a great way to dilute and disperse it. As it turns out, it's not a good idea since those are the very rivers and lakes that we get our drinking water from. In recent decades, a lot has been done to stop that practice, but the sources and amount of pollution keeps skyrocketing each year. There are three ways in which lakes are being polluted. These sources are:

  • Point source pollution
  • Nonpoint source pollution
  • Atmospheric pollution

Point Source Pollution

Point source pollution s a single source of pollution that is localized and easy to recognize. Some examples would be: a factory, coal plant, chimney stack, sewers, or a busy road. The pollution can come from the air or land. These are obvious sources of pollution that are very manageable yet money and job creation tend to override the concerns.

Nonpoint Source Pollution

Nonpoint Source Pollution is caused by things, such as the wind blowing garbage into the lake, or smoke from a tall smoke stack that gets blown many miles away to another city. Agricultural pesticides and fertilizers often get washed into water sources during heavy rains, and this is devastating to the whole ecosystem. The fertilizer eventually reaches lakes and can cause major algae blooms that will hurt the fish and surrounding wildlife.

Atmospheric Pollution

Atmospheric Pollution is when small particulate matter is dispersed into the air, such as gases, chemicals, smoke. Even highly toxic heavy metals, such as mercury can be dispersed this way from burning coal. So even if a country stops polluting they can still be hugely impacted by surrounding countries.

Solutions to Water Pollution

Experts have been warning for years about the coming water shortage crisis. And surprisingly it will even affect the Great Lakes region. The water we have in the lakes is already polluted with many chemicals, pesticides, drugs (prescription medications), heavy metals, and many things we don't yet know about. Purchasing a simple water filter is not going to give you pure, unadulterated water, but it is a vast difference than tap water or bottled water. Even having baths are showers exposes us to the toxins in water. Many people strive to have healthy skin and hair, purchasing a shower filter could be a big step in achieving that.

There is no easy solution to solve our water problems, especially since the sewage that is treated always goes back into the lakes with many unfiltered contaminants. More sophisticated water treatment facilities could be a solution, but it would drastically increase the cost of water and overburden low income families. A more immediate solution is to send less water into the sewage system, and this can be done by using water efficient faucets and shower head, and high efficiency or low flush toilets. Water efficient shower heads and toilets are going to save the most water. There are many new toilets on the market that are less likely to get clogged while using far less water. Water is going to get a lot more expensive as demand grows for it, so a water efficient home can save you a significant amount of money.


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    • Nelly A. profile image

      Nelly A. 5 years ago

      Yes it's better to be safe than sorry. Well-explained hub.

    • Rosemay50 profile image

      Rosemary Sadler 5 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

      A great hub on a very important subject.

    • profile image

      Sueswan 5 years ago

      A very important topic as life would not exist without water.

      Thank you for sharing.

      Voted up and interesting.

      Have a good weekend.

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