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Top Sources of Water Pollution

Sources of water pollution and treatment methods using SurfCleaner technology

Water pollution causes acute and long-term damage to the environment, plants, animals and humans. Although industries are required to comply with regulations for water quality, experts say that water pollution is a worsening problem. This article explains four of the leading sources of water pollution and how SurfCleaner technology can be applied to remove floating pollutants.

Oil pollution and hydrocarbons in water

When we think about marine oil pollution, many of us might think of tanker accidents like the Deep Horizon disaster that released more than 205 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Oil transport spills are catastrophic, and yet they are not the largest source of oil pollution to marine environments. Not by far.

On average, tanker disasters make up only about 10% of the estimated 1 million tonnes of the world’s annual marine oil pollution. World Ocean Review reports that the largest source of oil pollution in water environments comes from municipal and industrial effluents, which account for nearly half of marine oil pollution each year.

Wastewater and sewage

Untreated sewage and wastewater has been a leading cause of water pollution for millennia. In the U.S. alone, over 1 trillion gallons of untreated wastewater is dumped into lakes, rivers and oceans each year. In developing countries, the problem is exacerbated. According to UNESCO, upwards of 80% of the sewage from developing countries is returned to the environment untreated.

In urban and industrial areas of developed countries, stormwater runoff that contains oily pollutants is a major problem. Outdated or undersized wastewater treatment facilities also contribute to water pollution problems.

Water pollution from industrial waste

The Industrial Revolution, which began in the mid-seventeen hundreds, brought new pollutants into the water stream. Early on, ambitious titans of industry who were ignorant of the long-term effects, dumped industrial waste directly into the natural water supplies. Today, water pollution from industrial waste is still a great cause for concern. The Citarum River in Indonesia is considered to be the most polluted river in the world. Over 500 factories still dump their waste directly into this river.

Of the industrial facilities which are required to report their data to the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register (E-PRTR), a full 10% reported pollutant emissions to water. Furthermore, facilities are only required to report to the E-PRTR if they exceed a pollutant threshold. Some experts have expressed concern about the untrackable and potentially significant accumulation of emissions from many smaller facilities which fall below the threshold.

Agricultural pollution, chemical fertilisers and pesticides

PAN Europe reports that 7% of groundwater stations are contaminated with excess levels of pesticides. These polluted water sources are located in agricultural areas. In the U.S., agricultural pollution is the top contaminator of rivers and lakes.

Pesticides and fertilisers enter the water supply from farm runoff. Chemical fertilisers often contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. When these chemicals enter the water, they cause algae blooms which harm delicate ecosystems. Pesticides that runoff into rivers and streams destroy vegetation and are poisonous to fish.

Animal waste is another significant source of water pollution. Improper management of manure results in runoff that seeps into groundwater, streams and lakes. The contaminated water breeds pathogens and bacteria.

What can be done to protect water quality?

In general, we can steward our precious water resources by conserving water usage, reducing wasteful byproducts and carefully sequestering contaminants for mitigation. It’s also important to measure and monitor the quality of the water we return to the ecosystem.

How SurfCleaner skimmer separator hybrids clean contaminated water

When water quality is compromised due to oil or other floating pollutants like diesel or hydraulic leakage equipment in mines and other industrial applications, the contaminants must be removed in order to meet regulations and to protect environmental resources. SurfCleaner skimmer separators work by separating oil and other floating pollutants from contaminated water sources, leaving cleaner water and reducing the need for chemical treatments before the water can be returned to the ecosystem. SurfCleaner Skimmer Separators are used by oil refineries, industrial ports, metalworks plants, industrial wastewater treatment facilities, and mining and tunneling operations to separate and remove floating pollution from wastewater or contaminated water.

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