I don’t know if there is a volume or weight estimate of the amount of pollution currently toxifying our waterways, but there are other estimates available. For example, one in four fish found in our rivers, and other water sources, contain dangerous levels of mercury. NOAA has found eutrophic conditions in approximately one third of the estuaries in one study, meaning that the water is polluted with nitrogen or other chemicals that increase non-native plant growth and upset the overall ecologic balance. NPR provides an interesting soundbite on the status of our polluted waters, and the EPA reports that contaminated runoff is one of our most severe water quality issues.
So although I have not provided any quantifiable information regarding “how much” pollution is in our waterways, you can see that it is an issue of great importance. There are many people that are working to alleviate the problem, however, and likely some ways you can help at home too. Depending on where you live, there is probably some sort of water advocacy group in your community, or you can use a resource like Idealist.org to seek one out. It is important to conserve water in your home, where ever possible, as well, as this will limit the need for allocating water away from environmental purposes.
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