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KLB: Our water and nonpoint sources of pollution
Karen Bell
Keep Liberty Beautiful Executive Director Karen Bell. - photo by Denise Etheridge

My grandson, Bryce, and I were taking a walk the other day. We were discussing the current situation with the Coronavirus. My grandson asked me how we keep the water from getting sick. The only thing I could do at that time was to smile at him and told him, “That all of us just have to take care of our water source and not pollute it!” Bryce looked at me and just said, “Ok, Dr. Nana!” and smiled. 

That got me thinking about water pollution and the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). Water pollution is the release of substances into groundwater, lakes, streams, rivers, and oceans. Water pollution substances that enter the water could come from litter, chemicals, or microorganisms. Water pollutants come from either point sources or nonpoint sources. Created in 1972 by the Clean Water Act, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) was developed to regulate point sources that discharge pollutants into the water. The NPDES ensures that bodies of water meet their designated uses, such as providing drinking water, being safe for swimming or fishing, or supporting marine life.

Earlier I mentioned water pollution could come from a point or nonpoint source.  A point source is a pipe or channel, such as those used for discharge from an industrial facility or a city sewerage system. A nonpoint source is runoff from urban and agricultural areas, wastewater treatment, construction and transportation, and recreational activities. An example of a nonpoint source is driving cars, which leaves deposits of oil and other vehicle fluids on our local roads and hard-surfaced parking areas. 

Another source is throwing litter on the ground or out of vehicles. When it rains, the water washes the litter and fluids away either down storm drains in towns and cities or off roads, ultimately ending up in local creeks and streams. The debris, finally, continues its journey into larger bodies of water like rivers and even the ocean. When homes, farms, and businesses use fertilizers and pesticides and cleaning products that also end up in our local waters. As stormwater runoff flows over the paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, it collects debris, chemicals, or other pollutants that can adversely affect water quality when it ends up in our waterways. 

Below are 10 Interesting Facts on Water Pollution:

Fact 1: The total volume of water available on Earth is about 1.4 billion km, and about 70 percent of the Earth is covered in water.

Fact 2: The largest quantities of water are in the oceans.

Fact 3: Freshwater in the world is only 2.5 percent of the total water available on this planet. Make sure the water you drink is clean by using a water filter on your refrigerator.

Fact 4: Around 70 percent of the industrial waste is dumped into the water bodies where they pollute the usable water supply.

Fact 5: 14 billion pounds of garbage, mostly plastic, is dumped into the ocean every year.

Fact 6: In America, 40 percent of the rivers and 46 percent of the lakes are polluted and are considered unhealthy for swimming, fishing, or aquatic life.

Fact 7: Water pollution is the primary cause of various diseases like cholera and typhoid.

Fact 8: Plastic waste being a major water pollutant is causing huge destruction of marine life and is believed to be responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 sea mammals, sea birds, and various types of fishes.

Fact 9: 15 million children under the age of five die each year because of diseases caused by drinking water.

Fact 10: About 700 million people worldwide drink contaminated water.

If you would like to learn more about water pollution, water conservation, litter prevention, and a whole host of environmental topics, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at (912) 880-4888 or klcb@libertycountyga.com. You can also join us on April 24 at our Annual Earth Day Celebration at the Bryant Commons, 438 W Oglethorpe Hwy, Hinesville, GA 31313, from 3:30 pm until 6:30 pm. We target activities for kids, but it is really for everyone. We have cleverly disguised environmental education as games, crafts, entertainment, and just flat out fun for you and your family to enjoy. 

It is free, too.

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