Water Polution

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Introduction to Environmental Science 12:008/159:008
Spring 2002

Water Pollution

July 22, 2005

Water Pollution
Pollutant
Any substance that does not belong in the
natural system and disrupts the natural
balance

Water Pollution
Degradation of water quality in a manner
that disrupts/prevents its intended or
original use.

Surface Water
Groundwater

MCL and secondary MCL
MCL=Maximum Contaminant Level
The highest concentration of a pollutant
allowed in drinking water by law
Concentration above which adverse health
affects are believed to occur

Water pollution contaminant types
Infectious agents
Oxygen-demanding Wastes
Plant nutrients and eutrophication
Toxic tides
Inorganic Pollutants
Metals, nonmetallic salts, acids and bases

Organic Chemicals
Sediment
Thermal Pollution and thermal shocks

Contamination of Iowa’s Water
Fertilizer
Pesticides
Sediment

Secondary MCL
Concentration of a pollutant above which
the water is unpleasant in odor or taste
May not be hazardous to your health at that
level

16. Water Pollution ‹#›

Introduction to Environmental Science 12:008/159:008
Spring 2002

phosphorous

phosphorous

nitrogen

nitrogen

Pollution Sources
Point-source
Smokestack /
industrial effluent
Oil Tanker spill

Non point source
Atmospheric
deposition
Farm field runoff

16. Water Pollution ‹#›

Introduction to Environmental Science 12:008/159:008
Spring 2002

Surface Water

Surface Water

Sustains numerous ecosystems that fulfill
important roles in biogeochemical cycles
and the water cycle.
Source (major?) of food.
Major source of drinking water.
Recreational/aesthetic value

Photosynthetic organisms (light is
essential).
Phytoplankton - microscopic, floaters.
green algae, diatoms, cyanobacteria.

Benthic Plants
Submerged (plant fully under water)
pond weed, muskgrass

Emergent (plants partial above water)
water lilies, cattails

Surface Water
Non photosynthetic organism consumers. Includes floating, swimmers, benthic.
Zooplankton - microscopic, floaters
Fish, Amphibians (froggies..), Reptiles
(Crocs, Turtles, Snakes)
Mollusks (snails, clams), Crustaceans
(crayfish)
Birds (ducks, geese, swans, etc.)
Mammals (otters, raccoons, muskrats..…)

Essentials
The following
Light - essential for primary producers.
Oxygen - essential for all consumers.
Nutrients - in balanced quantities to
maintain equilibrium between
populations.

16. Water Pollution ‹#›

Introduction to Environmental Science 12:008/159:008
Spring 2002

Light
Photic or Euphotic Zone
Depth to which adequate light for
photosynthesis can penetrate.
Controlled by amount of particulate matter
(sediment, plankton, and organic debris) in
the water column.

Oxygen
Dissolved Oxygen - DO
Amount of oxygen available in the water.
Oxygen in water maintained by
exchange with the atmosphere
Production of oxygen by photosynthetic
organisms (vegetation)
Circulation of water (essential to maintain
oxygen levels in deeper portions)

Oxygen consumed by decaying organic
matter and oxygen breathing organisms

BOD
Biochemical Oxygen Demand
Measure of the amount of oxygen required
for the aerobic degradation of organic and
non-organic compounds in the water.
Highly polluted waters have very high BOD
implying that oxygen is consumed rapidly.

Note: this diagram is specifically for a point source on a stream

Nutrients
Supplied by
Recycled internally through decay of the
organic matter.
Sediments and particulate matter from land
sources.

16. Water Pollution ‹#›

Introduction to Environmental Science 12:008/159:008
Spring 2002

Oligotrophic Condition

Pollution Effects

Under normal conditions (preanthropogenic perturbation) most surface water are low in nutrients
(particularly phosphorous and nitrogen),
well oxygenated, and there are few
particulates in the water column.

Excess suspended sediments and...
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