Water is often dirty naturally, as soil erodes and is washed to the sea.
But even before recorded history water was treated as a convenient garbage dump: Throw something in a river or in the ocean, and forget about it. And actually this worked pretty well, because almost everything people threw out was biodegradable.
Unfortunately times have changed in the last couple hundred years in two important ways: There are so many people now that the natural processes are overwhelmed. In India, the sacred river Ganges is now a polluted mess. People just go to the bathroom in it, and it doesn’t decompose completely before it gets to the sea. (Yes, it’s disgusting!) The other way things have changed is that humans have developed chemicals that never happened naturally. There isn’t any “natural” way to take care of some of them. An example is drugs. When individuals take drugs, much of the drug may be “flushed out” in urine. That part never actually does much, if anything. Unfortunately, it’s still active after it leaves. That means there are all kinds of fish, etc., have a hefty dose of antibotics, and many other things.
Freedsmooth has many good points, and I would also like to add that one of the reasons to water pollution (contributing to “dirty water”) is the politics. Lack of appropriate regulation for what can go into the water allows big and mean corporations to dump chemicals and waste in the water. There have been half a million violations for chemical factories, manufacting plants and other workplaces yet our government will not pass the Clean Water Act.
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