What’s In Your Water:
Drinking Water Quality and How Expanding Urbanization is Affecting It Makayla T. Cohen
Miami Dade College
This paper explores the issue of drinking water quality and the influence that expanding urbanization has on it. Background information will also be given, as well as current and future work being done to help improve drinking water quality. Finally, a few suggestions will be given on what each person can do to help the quality of water.
Keywords: Urbanization, Freshwater, Precautionary Principle, Hydrologic Cycle, Point Source, and Nonpoint Source.
Drinking Water Quality and How Expanding Urbanization is Affecting It “I never drink water; that is the stuff that rusts pipes”, W.C. Fields. Now this quote may seem funny now, but the fact that many people are afraid to drink water due to fears of getting sick is no laughing matter. It’s important for individuals to be aware of what they are putting in their bodies and educate themselves on water quality, especially in their area. One factor in particular that seems to have a drastic effect on water quality is the increase of urbanization in areas surrounded by water. This paper will explore the effects of expanding urbanization on drinking water quality. Some background information will also be provided, as well as current work being done to improve drinking water quality and future endeavors. Background Knowledge
Before this discussion can proceed, a little background information must be given for better understanding. What exactly is the significance of water quality? According to the National Marine Sanctuaries, “water quality describes the condition of the water, including chemical, physical, and biological characteristics, usually with respect to its suitability for a particular purpose” (2011). In this case, drinking water quality gives an idea of how safe water is for consumption. Water is an important aspect to the sustainability of living organisms, and humans, especially, cannot survive very long without freshwater, or “water that is relatively pure and contains few dissolved salts” (Miller & Spoolman, 2013), to drink. However, freshwater is a resource that isn’t readily available to everyone. Even though the majority of Earth’s surface area is covered off with water, only about 0.024% is readily available from ground water deposits, lakes, rivers, and streams (Miller & Spoolman, 2013). And unfortunately, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 3,900 children under the age of 5 die every day from infectious diseases due to not having access to safe drinking water (Miller & Spoolman, 2013). The Clean Water Act was implemented in 1972 as a solution this issue. The Clean Water Act “made it unlawful to discharge any pollutant from a point source into navigable waters, unless a permit was obtained” (Summary of the Clean Water Act, 2014). A point source is a single source that discharges pollutants into bodies of water at specific locations through drain pipes (Miller & Spoolman, 2013). Still, the issue of contamination to freshwater systems seems to be getting worse each year. Ironically, urbanization has increased dramatically within the past decade. Let’s explore the connection between these two. Urbanization’s Effect
Merriam-Webster describes urbanization as “the process by which towns and cities are formed and become larger as more and more people begin living and working in central areas” (2014). People shouldn’t get the wrong idea about urbanization; it can be something very positive. Urbanization helps the economy, residents of urban areas tend to live longer and have finer quality lives, and better access to various kinds of services. Urbanization can also help preserve biodiversity (Miller & Spoolman, 2013). Nonetheless, it seems that the negatives outweigh the positives. As reported by Miller and Spoolman, urban...
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Learn About Your Watershed [Southeast Coast - Biscayne Bay Watershed]. (2014). In ProtectingOurWater.org. Retrieved December 1, 2014, from Florida Department of Environmental Protection website: http://www.protectingourwater.org/watersheds/map/southeast_coast_biscayne_bay/
Merriam-Webster.com. (2014). Retrieved December 1, 2014, from Encyclopedia Britannica website: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/urbanization
Miller, G., & Spoolman, S. (2013). Environmental Science (J. Warde, Ed., 14). Belmont, CA: Brooks/Cole Cengage Learning.
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