Increased industrialization has resulted in heightened stress on our water bodies, hence minimizing the availability of clean water. Water pollution is a huge concern today affecting the climate, aquatic life, humans, plants as well as the entire ecosystem. The preservation of water bodies, which is part of sustainable development, should be of great importance and a joint effort by all sectors. While proper wastewater treatment has the potential of saving the water bodies, appropriate environmental policies together with continuous enlightenment on current and future implications of water pollution can significantly assist in water bodies conservation.
Enhancing Environmental Sustainability
Promoting sustainable environmental development in society is crucial in initiating better living standards for the populace. It is key to offering solutions to environmental, societal, and economic problems without negatively affecting future ecological and human development. Thus, it’s essential to pay great attention to the future while making present decisions. Therefore, we need to push the relevant authorities to implement effective waste management in our water bodies.
There exists various methods that are used to treat water and vary from operational complexities and skills of operation. Furthermore, economic demerits are commonly related to the high cost of equipment, human resources, and operational requirements. Most companies tend to avoid conventional water treatment methods because of the high costs related to them, thus end up releasing untreated water into water bodies. Therefore using a simple and cost-effective treatment method can promote proper wastewater treatments as well as prevent pollution in the environment.
Effects and Water Pollution Challenges
Water is a necessity that has both a direct and indirect impact on life. All forms of environmental, industrial, and metabolic processes depend on water to function well. Additionally, living organisms depend on water for functions such as temperature regulation, metabolic processes, lubrication, digestion, etc. Water is deemed polluted when its quality levels are affected by irregularities emerging from anthropogenic activities, making it unfit for usage.
Water pollution is a severe problem affecting the ecosystem and the environment at large. There are different pollutants varying from types and sources. For example, heavy metal wastes, organic pollutants, and dyes are known to be carcinogenic, pharmaceuticals, or hormones, while cosmetic products are identified as disruptive endocrine chemicals. Such pollutants enter the water bodies via different channels. However, anthropogenic is predominant. Environmentalists are highly concerned by the hazards these pollutants cause to the ecosystem.
The Plastic Menace
Plastics are known to affect almost 700 species in water bodies, from the smallest planktons to the giant whales in the oceans. You may probably come across videos highlighting the damage caused by plastics first hand, such as a plastic straw stuck in a sea turtle’s nose or a shark entangled in an abandoned fishing net. Over 60% of sea birds and 100% of sea turtles swallow plastic that they mistake for food. These plastics are harmful to their lives, affecting their fitness, digestion, and feeding efficiency that is essential for survival.
Eight Million metric tons of harmful plastic find their way to oceans every year with an estimated 150 million tons of plastic waste that are now scattered in water bodies today. These may be errant plastic bags entering the gutters or unmanaged plastic waste from quickly growing urban centers. All this plastic ends up in the water bodies and impacts the ecosystem negatively, thus there is need for urgent Coastal Waste Management procedures.
Implementing a Long-term Solution for Waste Management
There is need to formulate a long term solution to plastic and other wastes in our water bodies. One way to do so is by transforming the role played by plastic in our economy. However, with eight million metric tons of plastic landing in the water bodies annually, a long term solution may not be enough. We need immediate action. With the production of plastic on the rise every year, there is need to curb the flow of plastic in our water bodies.
We need to push the authorities to develop fundamental waste management strategies, especially during this era of rapid economic growth. Managing plastic waste can offer a crucial mid-term solution to the plastic menace. Additionally, it provides an essential foundation for a long term solution for which a circular economy is created.