Water Supplies

6 Ways Water Supplies are Being Contaminated in the US

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In February this year, PBS published a worrying news report. Apparently, cities across the United States are struggling to supply their residents with safe drinking water. The US, which is one of the world’s biggest superpowers and one of the top economies of the world, is failing to supply clean water to its people.

This is an alarming situation, and it indicates a problem that has prevailed in the US for a while now – water contamination.

According to a Time report, lack of access to clean water is a crisis that most people in the US hardly talk about.  Instead, it will worsen it. That’s exactly what happened with the water contamination situation in America.

The question now is, how are water supplies in the US being contaminated? That’s what we’ll try to uncover in this article.

#1 Industrial Pollution

Industrial activities play a crucial role in economic growth, but they can also have detrimental effects on water quality. Improper disposal of industrial waste, including chemicals, heavy metals, and toxins, is a leading cause of water contamination. Inadequate regulation and oversight have allowed pollutants to seep into water sources, endangering both surface water and groundwater supplies.

A similar case was witnessed in Camp Lejeune, which is highlighted in the Camp Lejeune Justice Act. The Camp Lejeune incident exposed the people near the Camp Lejeune area to a serious case of water contamination. As a result of that, many developed cancer over the years.

According to TorHoerman Law, the 2022 Camp Lejeune Justice Act will allow the Camp Lejeune victims to seek compensation for their losses due to the water contamination incident. The act has been passed by the US House of Representatives as well as the Senate.

#2 Agricultural Runoff

The use of fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides in modern agriculture has dramatically increased crop yields.  Rainfall and irrigation can carry agricultural runoff, laden with nitrogen, phosphorus, and other contaminants, into nearby rivers and lakes.

This runoff contributes to harmful algal blooms, depletes oxygen levels, and disrupts aquatic ecosystems.

#3 Poor State of Municipal Sewage Systems

The sewage systems  Then, the wastewater is treated to a state that’s safe for discharging into the environment.

However, many such infrastructures are in a dire state. Aging systems and a lack of maintenance lead to this situation, and as a result, there are sewage leaks and overflows. These events allow untreated or partially treated sewage to enter water bodies, introducing harmful bacteria, viruses, and other pathogens.

#4 Fracking Operations

According to a 2022 report by The Guardian, the boom in fracking operations across the US is pushing the world closer to the edge of climate disaster. Drilling projects across the United States are likely to release over 140 billion metric tons of planet-heating gasses. Apart from impacting climate change, fracking operations also contaminate large volumes of water.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has revolutionized the energy industry in the US. However, this process involves injecting large volumes of water mixed with chemicals and sand deep underground to extract oil and natural gas. The disposal of fracking wastewater poses a significant risk to water supplies.

Improper handling and storage of this wastewater can lead to leaks, spills, and groundwater contamination, impacting both human health and the environment.

#5 Contaminated Underground Storage Tanks

Underground storage tanks (USTs) are commonly used to store petroleum and other hazardous substances. Over time, these tanks can deteriorate, leading to leaks and spills that contaminate soil and groundwater.

Many older USTs were not adequately regulated, and as a result, numerous sites across the US have experienced groundwater contamination from petroleum products, such as gasoline and diesel fuel. These pollutants can migrate into nearby water sources, posing a threat to drinking water supplies.

#6 Using Conventional Water Treatment While Manufacturing Pharmaceutical and Personal Care Products

When individuals use medications or wash personal care products off their bodies, these substances can enter wastewater systems and ultimately end up in water bodies.

The presence of pharmaceutical residues in water sources raises concerns about potential health effects and the development of antibiotic resistance in bacteria.

Conclusion

Like many other countries in the world, the US, too, is seeing its fair share of water contamination problems. The good news is that the concerned authorities are working to fix this problem at hand.

However, fixing the problem will only make sense if this concern is eradicated completely. Whether or not that will be possible is hard to predict, but efforts must be made to ensure this, and fortunately, the US is trying its best.

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