“Water pollution” can include pollution in oceans, lakes, and streams, as well as groundwater. While these areas are ultimately interrelated, one very pertinent issue is how this pollution affects the human populations that encounter it. One major way this interaction occurs is through drinking water, particularly municipal tap water. The nonprofit organization Environmental Working Group conducted a review of many of the nation’s municipal water utilities in 2009 and ranked them based on three criteria: level of individual pollutant, total amount of chemicals, and percentages of these chemicals present in the water. The five worst utilities were located in Pensacola, FL, Riverside, CA, Las Vegas, NV, Riverside County, CA, and Reno, NV.
Also in 2009, the New York Times published results of its investigations into water pollution sources and associated regulation. It found that many industry sources of water pollution, particularly chemical byproducts from activities such as coal mining, are not being appropriately regulated by the EPA. One area that is highlighted in the article as having tap water that is particularly harmful for the area’s residents is the Charleston area of West Virginia.
It seems as if a lot of areas in the United States contain water pollution, at least a lot more than expected.
Approximately 40% of America’s rivers are too polluted to fish in, and cannot sustain aquatic life. 46% of lakes in the U.S. are polluted also.
A great example of water pollution in the U.S. is the Mississippi River, which drains 40% of the U.S, “carries an estimated 1.5 million metric tons of nitrogen pollution into the Gulf of Mexico each year.” This contributes to the “dead zone” in the Gulf, a highly toxic area.
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