Humans have four major needs in this world: food, water, air, and shelter. If we go without any one of them for too long, the consequences are negative at best. Knowing what we know about these four basic needs to support life, it’s important that we sustain each of them.
Water pollution has become a major concern. Our planet’s landfills are hitting capacity, and single use plastics outpace nearly everything else we manufacture. Learning how to improve water quality is essential if we want to keep our water supply from becoming undrinkable. Let’s look at some simple ways to improve water quality that people of all ages can do.
The Need for Clean Water
We already noted water as being one of the four basic needs to support human life, but water is an important part of sustaining all the life around us as well. Polluted waterways harm our local ecosystems in a number of ways. They can cause the animals that live there to either die or experience reproductive problems. So, what are the issues of water pollution?
Water Contamination Effects
When water crosses the line from clean to polluted, there are all kinds of consequences that come along with it. Water pollution can destroy critical ecosystems and biodiversity, contaminate the food chain, reduce our supply of clean water for drinking and washing, and raise infant mortality rates through diseases spread by contaminated food or water. It’s a serious issue and deserves serious attention.
What are the Causes of Water Pollution?
When we talk about how to prevent water pollution or how to clean polluted water, it’s important to know what causes water pollution in the first place. There are a number of contributors, but some are bigger than others, and some can be tackled effectively through homegrown measures.
There may be little you can do to reduce the amount of industrial waste your local businesses produce or the effects of the maritime traffic in your region. There are some areas though where your personal decisions can have a great effect. If you’re interested in learning how to improve water quality for your children and grandchildren, here are some causes of water pollution that you have some control over.
Whenever we use the chemicals in our everyday lives, there is a chance that those chemicals can end up in the water. Whether the chemicals come from the overuse of fertilizers and pesticides, or from a vehicle leaking fluid onto roadways, rainwater can wash those chemicals down storm drains and into the rivers and streams that feed our lakes and oceans.
We can take steps to control runoff by being careful not to overuse chemicals that can be hazardous to our water and keeping our machines clean and well-tuned.
Another source of pollutants that affect our water is trash and debris that is not properly disposed of. When fast food trash or empty beverage containers are thrown out of car windows, they often make their way into lakes and rivers via storm drains on the side of the road.
Many people litter out of long standing habits. If we teach children how to stop water pollution, as well as the devastating effects of littering at a young age, they are more likely to develop habits that promote sustainability and lead to a healthier planet.
How to Improve Water Quality
If we want to tackle climate change and provide a cleaner planet for all its inhabitants, it’s important that we both learn how to improve water quality, as well as act on that information once we’ve learned it. Studying the steps without putting them into action doesn’t do much, so let’s take a look at some easily actionable ways to reduce water pollution.
Use More Natural Products
We’d all be better off if we dumped fewer chemicals into the ground and water, and part of making that happen is to avoid the types of chemicals that do harm to the environment. Even in the best case scenario, it’s possible for the chemicals we use to make their way into the water supply, causing problems for people, animals and the bodies of water that support us. By using more natural, chemical-free products, we can achieve a substantial reduction of water pollution in our local bodies of water.
While we’re on the topic of reducing the amount of chemicals we use, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t end with the cleaning products under our sinks and used on our lawns. Runoff from overspraying produce is a huge contributor to water pollution. By choosing organic foods over ones grown with chemicals, we can reduce the amount of pollutants that make their way into the waterways that hydrate our regions.
Decrease Dependence on Single Use Plastics
Since their introduction, single use plastics have made some parts of our modern lives easier and more sanitary. They’ve also however made a bigger impact on water pollution. It’s estimated that 8 million pieces of plastic trash find their way into our oceans daily, and reducing that number is going to be one of the most effective solutions to water pollution. If you want to know how to improve water quality, this one action is a good place to start.
The simplest way to reduce the amount of pollutants that make their way into the waterways is to reduce consumption and dispose of litter properly. Nearly everything we buy and use leaves a carbon footprint that could be reduced if we consumed fewer things.
We can’t use less of everything, and that’s understandable. When we buy food, using reusable bags and purchasing bulk foods are great ways to reduce the amount of waste caused by things you need to buy on a regular basis. It’s a simple lesson in learning how to improve water quality, but it has complex ramifications.
Keep Vehicles Well-Maintained
This may sound like a strange tip when talking about how to decrease water pollution, but when our vehicles leak oil or other fluids, those chemicals often make their way down our storm drains and into the water supply. This is something we want to avoid. Keep up with vehicle inspections and repairs to reduce the effects of runoff.
As an added bonus, keeping your vehicle well-maintained can deliver benefits like improving your gas mileage, making it last longer, and reducing the emissions you create with your daily commute. With the current rate of inflation, reducing costs is something we can all get behind.
Conserve Water to Make Sure it Lasts
Over time, learning how to improve water quality and taking the steps necessary to make it a reality will improve the quality of the water in our lakes, streams, and rivers. Until that reality arrives, it’s important to conserve the clean water we have. Luckily, the Environmental Protection Agency has provided some easy steps you can take in your home to conserve the clean water your region needs to thrive.
- Turn off the water while brushing your teeth
- Take short showers rather than baths
- Turn off the water while you lather your soap and shampoo before rinsing
- Keep drinking water in the refrigerator, so it’s cold without running lukewarm water down the drain.
- Don’t dump clean water down the drain if you can pour it into a plant or find another use for it.
- Wash dishes, fruits and vegetables in a basin or tub rather than under a running stream of water.
- Scrape dishes before putting them into the dishwasher, and run it only when completely full.
- Keep sprinkler systems maintained, so they don’t leak or spray water into the street.
- Run your sprinkler system only at times when evaporation poses little threat. Water in the early morning if possible, and avoid watering on windy days.
There are lots of conservation efforts that you can pair with the water pollution solutions covered earlier to make you a much more eco-friendly member of the community.
How to Improve Water Quality: Teach Water Conservation from a Young Age
Learning things at a young age is a great way to make important information stick and create lifelong sustainable habits. Teaching kids how to improve water quality will ensure the next generation has the skills necessary to maintain and improve the water supply we all depend upon.
If you want to create a program in your school that teaches the students how to improve water quality but don’t know where to start, NTC has the resources to help you create a successful program. Water pollution can be brought under control if we make it a priority. We all just need to play our part.