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Water contamination, or pollution, occurs when pollutants are either directly or indirectly discharged into bodies of water (lakes, river, streams, groundwater, or the ocean). Water contamination affects all of the plants and organisms that live within bodies of water, and can destroy entire biological communities, including threatening or harming human life.
Water Contamination - Major Global Issue
Water contamination is a major global problem in the following ways:
- Water contamination is the leading causes of death and disease.
- Water contamination affects more than 14,000 people daily.
- As much as 90% of the water in China is contaminated, leaving more than half a billion people without access to safe drinking water.
- Water contamination is acute in developing nations.
- Water contamination continues to be a problem in developed nations such as the United States, where nearly half of all streams and lakes are classified as polluted.
Water contamination can occur through point sources, which means that there is a single source of pollution. Examples of point source water pollution include sewage treatment plant discharge, or city storm drains. The U.S. Clean Water Act defines point sources.
Non point source pollution refers to contamination that cannot be traced to a single source and is often a cumulative effect of small contaminants gathering into a single water source. An example of this would be the leaching of nitrogen from fertilized land into groundwater or streams.