The widespread problem of water pollution is jeopardizing our health. Unsafe water kills more people each year than war and all other forms of violence combined. Meanwhile, our drinkable water sources are finite: Less than 1 percent of the earth’s freshwater is actually accessible to us. Without action, the challenges will only increase by 2050, when global demand for freshwater is expected to be one-third
greater than it is now. Water is uniquely vulnerable to pollution. Known as a “universal solvent,” water is able to dissolve more substances than any other liquid on Earth. It’s the reason we have Kool-Aid and brilliant blue waterfalls.
It’s also why water is so easily polluted. Toxic substances from farms, towns, and factories readily dissolve into and mix with it, causing water pollution. Sources of water pollution can be agriculture, oil pollution, sewage and wastewater, radioactive substances, industries, fossil fuel plants, etc… Water pollution has drastic effects on human health and on the environment. Every year, unsafe water sickens about 1 billion people. Waterborne pathogens, in the form of disease-causing bacteria and viruses from human and animal waste, are a major cause of illness from contaminated drinking water. Polluted water bodies are degrading ecosystems and affecting all forms of life on earth.
Public drinking water systems use different water treatment methods to provide safe drinking water for their communities. Public water systems often use a series of water treatment steps that include:
Clean water is a basic necessity for humans. While the human population grows, the demand for water grows as well. Since water is a finite resource, used water must be treated to continuously serve end-users. This is where the importance of water treatment systems comes in.
Water treatment helps in removing contaminants and hazardous substances from the water as detailed previously in this article, making it clean and safe to drink and be used for other purposes. Unfortunately, almost 2 billion people in the world use either untreated drinking water or get water from unsafe or contaminated sources. Having systems in place to improve water quality helps intervene in these situations and prevent unsafe water-caused incidents, such as water-borne diseases and fatalities.
On the other hand, water treatment is also helpful in ensuring that water gets reintroduced back to nature’s cycle. One of the end-uses of this process is to safely return water to environmental sources like rivers, lakes, and oceans. Of course, water treatment facilities must ensure that water is free from harmful substances before doing so to avoid contamination and other environmentally disastrous issues such as water pollution.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets forth guidelines for organizations for protecting the environment and human health. One of the violations that an EPA report helps keep in check regarding an organization’s compliance with environmental safety is the illegal discharge of pollutants that could end up in bodies of water. An example of this is dumping untreated and contaminated wastewater directly into the sewer system, which is a violation of the Clean Water Act.
Therefore, water treatment systems and plants are gaining more attention in the last decade, and the awareness of sustainable usage and recycling of our water resources is growing worldwide.