Dr. Upmany Lall, director of the Columbia Water Center and an expert at the forefront of the hydroclimatology and climate change sectors, states that as early as 2025, many parts of the world will experience a shortage of water. We are already seeing 8 million metric tonnes of the world’s plastic finding its way into our oceans, landfills seeping into ground water and over tasked sewage systems pouring unchecked fluids into our oceans and rivers.
August is national water quality month and the ideal time to review how you and your company are working to reduce water pollution. With more than one billion people without adequate drinking water, it is vital that the global water supply of water is protected.
Water pollution and the environment
Many people believe water pollution doesn’t affect them or their loved ones, as there are a small number or no water problems within their town or city. However, even pollution happening on the other side of the country can affect the food we eat. For example, heavy metals leaching into the ground water from a nearby factory can be taken up by maize plants being irrigated with the self-same ground water. Heavy metals are not metabolized and thus accumulated in the plant which is then harvested and sold. In this way, the heavy metals in the soil can land up at your table. Besides drinking water, food is important to all of us and thus agriculture is a very important industry as a provider of food. This industry is currently at risk due to the effect water pollution is having on agriculture. Livestock need fresh water and crops need irrigating.
Water pollution and human health
Polluted water is responsible for 90 percent of human infectious diseases in developing countries and according to the Center for Disease Control, more than 76 million Americans are infected and five thousand die due to Eschericia coli contaminated water.
Dumping into our oceans was very popular in the last century and advocates of the solution to pollution is dilution method. The problems with this approach is now being seen with the dead zones off the Mississippi river delta, dying corals on the Great Barrier Reef and endangered marine species choking on plastic. Pollutants that typically were disposed of in the sea include pesticides, herbicides, chemical fertilizers, detergents, oil, sewage and plastic.
With legislation and protocols forbidding the dumping of harmful materials into our oceans, corporate initiatives are also promoting a pollution free culture. These include:
- International Coastal Clean-up Day in September whereby thousands around the world take part to clean up the beaches.
- World Ocean’s Day on 8 June on which stakeholders, such as aquariums, conservancies and various marine biology institutes, plan events to educate and involve many in the plight of our oceans, as well as cleaning up our seas.
- The United Nations Environmental Programme initiated the Global Plan of Action to launch a global initiative on marine litter.
How can we save water from being polluted?
If each person just does one thing, it will have a positive effect on our water supply. Here are some tips to help improve water quality:
- Reuse, reduce and recycle where you can – educate yourself as to what you can recycle or repurpose.
- Do not pour cooking fat or oil down the drain
- Do not dispose of household chemicals down the drain, these will eventually get into the ground water or the ocean
- Do not flush medicines down the toilet or drain, rather return them to the pharmacy where they can be properly disposed
- Do not dispose of pesticides, herbicides, fertilizers, oils and chemicals into stormwater
Protecting your family and employees at work from microorganisms and chemicals in the water is also essential. The Waterlogic water cooler systems screen out contaminants, improving the quality and taste of your drinking water. It is undeniable that water is a basic human need and furthermore, the quality of that water is important to our health.
With less and less water around us, the effects of pollution are more discernible. Thus, we need to play our part by implementing changes and raising awareness regarding water pollution. Companies can ensure their workforce is healthy by initiating a corporate wellness strategy, starting with ensuring employees have access to clean and contaminant-free water. As citizens of the world, the responsibility for our water supply lies on us and we can make a difference to ensure that our children are raised in a water conscious and sustainable culture.