6 Ways Our Freshwater Often Becomes Polluted

by Curtis Grossi | Last Updated: March 19, 2024
Water Pollutants

People have survived without food, love, and money for days, but none has ever lived without water. Water is a primary contributor in a man’s existence. Drink fresh water free of toxins, and live a smooth and healthy life for the rest of your days on earth.

Unfortunately, most people drink contaminated water every day thinking they are consuming clean and fresh water. More than 80% of the world’s wastewater leak into oceans, rivers, and lakes untreated, which ends up leaving deposits of contaminants. It’s confirmed beyond uncertainty that the number of people who die from contaminated water each year is almost double those who die from violence and war.

What Is Water Pollution?

Water pollution degrades the quality of water through the addition of precarious elements, which may be in the form of radioactive substances, human excreta, household kitchen wastes, and more. Almost 40 percent of water pollution is as a result of chemicals generated by factories or oil spills.

6 Ways Our Fresh Water Gets Polluted

Water pollution is quite common in the modern-day era, and here are some ways in which water gets polluted.

1. Oil Spillage

Oil spillage is not all about the commercial spills that make headlines in the media. Oil spillages happen every day before our eyes. Starting from the gasoline and oil spills from vehicles to factory and farm spills, oil spillages are ordinary happenings.

Statistics show that more than 50% of the one million tons of oil that pollute water comes from land-based sources. Only 10% of tanker spills trigger pollution on water sources globally. About a 1/3 of global pollutants are caused by the illegal and legal oil spillages in the shipping industry, which is the oil released to the atmosphere through the ocean floor.

Oil spillages in the marine industry have increased due to heavy marine traffic or technical problems. Other oil spillage related tragedies result from offshore drilling operations. Offshore drilling exercises contribute significantly to water pollution cases that occur every day.

2. Thermal Pollution

The hot effluents and elements released in electrical and thermal power plants also contribute greatly to water pollution.

Most of these elements end up in rivers and streams, which channel them to big water sources like the seas. Hot water has high oxygen holding capacity and, so when it ends up in water bodies with fishes, they result in a life-threatening tragedy.

That’s true in the case of rivers or dams, where fishes like walleyes, trout, and black bass breed. When hot water ends up in a body with cold water, it triggers the reduction of dissolved oxygen, which in return increases the demand for oxygen. And that’s why when thermal and electric plants release hot water to livers or dams; the existing fishes have to move out or die in masses.

Although not quite popularly known, thermal pollution is quite unsafe and can have severe impacts on aquatic life. Even with the advancement of technologies to help cool the water released from industries, water bodies around thermal plants are always at risk of getting polluted.

3. Agricultural Runoffs

Water pollution from the agricultural sector is not so small to be neglected. Common agricultural effluents like pesticides, sediments, fertilizers, animal wastes, and insecticides have detrimental effects on water.

Chemical fertilizers are quite in demand and popularity nowadays. It’s possible to think that fertilizers and pesticides can only pollute water available in rivers and dams. Fertilizers penetrate the ground through leaching to contaminate groundwater.

Chemicals found in fertilizers such as nitrates can trigger methemoglobinemia in kids. Phosphorus, nitrogen, and nitrates available in plants also trigger the growth of algae and aquatic plants.

Farm animal effluents cause water pollution as they have pathogenic organisms which can be easily transferred to humans.

Mineral and oil sediments cleared from agricultural fields also have detrimental effects when they find their way into stream channels and water reservoirs. The mixing of insecticides and pesticides with water create toxic rudiments that can harm humans and animals. Most agricultural pollutants don’t require professional water treatment. Whether for household or commercial use, the best water filters will clean and purify your water to make it ideal for human consumption.

4. Domestic Sewage

Domestic effluents result from everyday human activities, including cleaning, cooking, and bathing. It’s estimated that about 80 percent of the water man uses every day ends up in municipal drains, which channel it to lakes and rivers.

Known as domestic waste, this water is very high in detergents, papers, and plastic materials. Domestic waste is presently the biggest contributor to water pollution around the world. Organic wastes eat up the oxygen in water which results in natural aquatic ecosystem imbalance.

Negligence among humans is one of the reasons domestic pollution is quite high. Rather than treating sewage before letting it into rivers and lakes, people release it in such an awful condition. Population growth in big cities is quite high today, so municipal water pollution is likely to keep on increasing.

5. Radioactive Wastes

Radioactive waste pollution is not as massive as domestic and oil spillage pollution. However, the amount of radioactive elements released to water bodies is alarming. Elements like radium and uranium have large wobbly atomic nuclei, which, when mixed with water, can trigger extremely injurious radiation emissions.

A good example of radioactive waste is during nuclear testing when radioactive dust encloses the earth at altitudes more than 3000 meters which are later discharged in the form of rain.

And when they do, radioactive elements like strontium 90 seeps into the soil to the groundwater reservoirs or channeled to rivers and streams. Strontium 90 is widely known for causing cancer, so its presence in water can have detrimental health effects. This kind of contamination is so detrimental since it affects everyone.

6. Industrial Pollution

Industry-generated waste is so toxic such that if it ends up in rivers and lakes, it can have unfavorable effects when consumed by humans and animals.

The chemicals and pollutants generated during different industrial operations do affect not only the environment but also living things. Most contaminants are high in asbestos, sulfur, nitrates, mercury, and many more toxic elements.

The lack of quality waste management systems in industries has contributed significantly to increased pollution. The high amount of toxic elements channeled to rivers, canals, and sea from industries, the quality of water has decreased immensely.

The good news is, most industry-triggered pollutants can be easily filtered. With the right water filters and softeners, you can quickly make water suitable for drinking.

How To Prevent Water Pollution

Water pollution is extremely high today, and the only solution to curb this menace is to observe safety precautions to minimize contamination. There are useful yet straightforward things you can do to minimize water pollution.


If you’ve been wondering why the water you get from rivers or lakes smells and tastes so bad, you’ve known why. Water contamination which comes from the everyday things people do is rampant at the moment.

We can minimize water pollution by doing things that do not increase pollution. One of such things is to know how to dispose of wastes properly and avoid throwing them in toilets and sinks they usually end up in rivers and lakes.

We can also minimize the intake of polluted water by using the right technologies to purify and clean water. The use of water coolers and different water filters are two great ways to help minimize the intake of contaminated water.

Curtis is the founder and owner of softeningwater.com. He is the lead guy concerning all the water-softening accessories in this site's guides and reviews. If he is not writing a reviews, guides or any other useful tips, you will find him testing them to find out their suitability. He is passionate about softening water. You will find him extremely helpful and always willing to educate the general populace all there is concerning water and its effects on their health and appliances.