Here’s How to Improve Water Quality
Water quality remains a top-of-mind issue for many environmentalists. Every living being needs water to survive, but many of the world’s sources have become polluted. Most of this pollution comes from humans, which exemplifies the outsized role people play in affecting the environment. Fortunately, not all the news is bad — many have created organizations and movements to emphasize the importance of clean water.
Even though Earth mostly consists of water, it isn’t an infinite resource. When you exclude the oceans and glaciers, your drinking water comes from a small portion of viable origins. Everyone benefits from caring about their water sources and protecting them from harmful toxins. If you’re stuck on where to start, you’ve come to the right place. Here are six ways to enhance your water quality and keep the H2O flowing for all.
1. Water Conservation
Water conservation is a fundamental step in improving water quality. Companies and individuals that misuse water are likely to care little about overall water quality, leading to a cycle of inappropriate water management. Many people have combated wasteful water techniques with graywater recycling, high-efficiency appliances, stormwater collection and low-flow taps. All these methods improve water consumption by treating and recycling existing water or reducing the amount for available use.
2. Improved Agricultural Techniques
Agricultural operations play a significant role in determining water quality. Many farmers spray pesticides and insecticides and lay down synthetic fertilizers that leach into water sources. Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution result from these agricultural practices, degrading water quality and affecting ecological functions. Livestock produce tons of manure, which farmers may or may not dispose of correctly, causing it to end up in waterways.
Farmers can prevent water pollution by switching to sustainable methods that exclude chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Cover crops reduce soil erosion and store more nitrogen underground, while buffer strips prevent sediment and nutrients from entering bodies of water. Integrated farming systems turn waste from one sector into nourishment for another, redirecting pollutants away from water sources.
3. Water Testing
Test your tap water and local sources before implementing any anti-pollution methods. Knowing which substances are present — and in which concentrations — enables you to develop a targeted strategy for cleaning your water. It’s normal to find elements such as fluoride, potassium and sodium, but large amounts of certain substances tell you something is off. A practical plan for sampling stormwater should include the pollutant types you hope to find, nearby drainage areas and preferred analytical methods.
If you’re unsure of what toxins to look for, ask your water or health department about what commonly appears in the groundwater.
You’ve been hearing “use less plastic” for years. That’s not going to end anytime soon, especially considering how much of it enters the ocean each year, where it harms marine populations and hurts humans. Humans inadvertently consume microplastics every time they eat sea creatures that have ingested the material. Most of the plastics already in the ocean are too small for ocean cleaners to remove, but you can prevent more from entering by decreasing your use of the material.
Recycle whenever you can if you haven’t yet switched to no-plastic living. Use cloth grocery bags, try non-plastic straws and reuse containers instead of tossing them. Businesses can create non-plastic packaging and create sustainable recycling programs for disposing of waste.
5. Cleaning Storm Drains
Get your hands dirty and start a local initiative for cleaning storm drains and streets. Rainwater sweeps away debris like leaves, twigs and garbage, dirtying the waterways sustaining fish and other aquatic life. Unlike groundwater, this water doesn’t receive any treatment — it flows into bodies of water in all its muddy glory. High nutrient levels in local waters cause suffocating algal blooms and bacterial infestations.
Many people don’t suspect how harmful stormwater runoff can be — kids and adults walk through it without alarm. There’s little doubt you’ll be wearing your tallest waterproof boots after reading this. You can help put a stop to it, though, by clearing the streets of waste.
6. Education on Water Quality Standards
The EPA provides free online education to anyone seeking to learn about water quality standards. Their program includes information on how to protect high-quality waters and what states are doing to preserve their reservoirs. Check out your state’s guidelines and see where they stand on water quality. Influencing change requires education on prominent issues and a willingness to voice your thoughts. Learn the federal and state standards and hold local officials accountable where guidelines are lacking.
Clean Water Is a Human Right
By protecting your water sources, you support your community and the world at large. Encourage people to join the fight to preserve water quality. Without water, our planet can sustain no life — keep populations alive and healthy by maintaining natural resources.