Water pollution is the corruption of water bodies such as lakes, rivers, groundwater, and oceans. It is a form of environmental degradation that occurs when the pollutants are either directly or indirectly released into the water bodies without treatment to eliminate the harmful compounds they may contain (Goel, 179). Water pollution single-handedly affects the entire biosphere having an effect on plants and animals living in the water. In most cases, the effects of water pollution are not only felt by the plants and animals living in it but also by the population and biological communities that rely on the water bodies (Goel, 179). The liberal standpoint on water pollution is the belief that the government should actively participate and take action to provide equal opportunity and equality for the entire population (Carter, 87). They believe that it is the duty of the government to protect and safeguard the community from any harm that may result from water pollution. Liberal further asserts that our health and that of our children depend on the quality of the air and the water that we consume (Carter, 87). Therefore, water is infinitely precious but is not capable of healing itself. Hence, the need to protect the water from any form of pollution. Liberals affirm that our water resources are not unlimited and cannot handle pollution, and therefore, they need protection from the government.
Water covers over two-thirds of the earth’s surface but as the population continue to grow; there is increased pressure on the water resources. In a way, the oceans, rivers, and other inland water sources are being pressured and squeezed by human activities damaging the quality of the water (Goel, 179). Therefore, there is a need to have controls instituted on the human settlement and also on the interaction of people with the water bodies. The governments of the day need to have sound policies and also facilitate the conservation and protection of the water resources present in the world.
Pollution also affects both the surface and the groundwater sources through the different ways that contamination can occur. It is because not all of the Earth’s water sits on the surface but there is a great deal of the water held underground rock structures commonly called the aquifers that we cannot see and hardly think about (Laws, 430). The water stored underground ion the aquifers is what is known as the groundwater. The aquifers are a fundamental source of the river waters and also offer the majority of the drinking water humans’ heavily rely upon. They, however, can also be polluted through the direct or indirect release of chemicals to the ground and then they drain the chemicals to the water bodies underground. The groundwater pollution is less obvious than the surface water pollution but is no reason to overlook its effects. A study in 1996 indicated that in Lowa of United States, over half of its groundwater wells were contaminated with weed killers used by farmers and other means (Laws, 430). Therefore, it is the duty of the government to educate and also protect the public from self-destruction through the use, misuse or overuse of chemicals in the soil as well as disposal of chemical wastes to the ground. It can do so by facilitating research into other methods of killing weed without risking pollution to the important water sources or even fostering alternative bio-friendly sources of such functions (Laws, 430).
Water pollution is a human problem as is evidenced by the fact that it has become more rampant in the recent past. Before the coming of the industrial revolution in the 19th Century, people lived in a more harmonious way with their immediate environment (Harrison, 165). With the spread and the increase of industrialization at a global scale, water pollution has been on the rise as a consequence to the industrialization. In most industrialized nations such as China, there are more pollutants in the water than in any other parts of the world. In fact, the less industrialized countries face lesser aquatic deaths following water pollution, and the indications of water pollution are lower. There is, therefore, the need for the government to set in controls for the industries and manufacturers on how to dispose of their chemical wastes that release chemical compounds either to the air, soil or directly into the water since they all end up polluting the water bodies (Harrison, 170). There is also some direct pollution of water such as oil spills as was the case with the BP Oil company spill on the waters of the United States. It led to an immediate effect on aquatic life with fish and other aquatic lives affected. The human settlements that rely on fishing as the main source of living were also not spared from the massive pollution of the water. Therefore, there are no individuals that can control such industrial problems, but the government can do so through policies and laws that provide guidelines. It should have instructions on the human-water interaction and other ways to safeguard the water resources from human interference.
The earth’s population was smaller in the past and therefore, there was limited interference within the water bodies. It was once believed that the oceans were too big to pollute. In the recent past with over 7 billion people on the planet, it has become apparent that there are limits that need to be set (Woodford). Pollution is one of the major signs that the humans have surpassed the limits. There are also cases of nations that have encroached the water body habitation through the building and directly interfering with the water bodies. Countries such as the UAE and some islands have started settling their populations in the water bodies in a direct effort to control the human settlement needs. It is this that has an effect on the water bodies and also interrupts the natural flow and existence of such water bodies. It means that such actions may be experiencing serious population crisis (Mason, 215). There is, therefore, the need for the government to institute measures to control the population growth even if it means providing controls so as not to put too much pressure on the water sources the environment in general. Some nations such as China have developed mechanisms to monitor the population that was going out of control and it seems to be working at reducing the population growth rate (Woodford).
Water pollution can occur from a single location also known as point sources pollution or from multiple sources that are also called nonpoint source pollution. When point source pollution gets into the environment, it adversely affects the place that is immediate to the source of the pollutant. For example, when an industry releases their chemical wastes into an ocean, it changes the around the disposal point. The pollution may be concentrated around the source of the pollutant but may be dispersed to hundred and at times thousands of miles away from a process called trans-boundary pollution (Harrison, 205). One major example of the trans-boundary pollution is the way that radioactive wastes travels in the ocean from nuclear reprocessing plants in places such as England and France affecting the nearby countries such as Norway and Ireland. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the concerned governments to come up with measures and also cross-border policies to control and even stop such kind of pollution from occurring. Individual or citizens living along such a coastline may not even have an idea of the ongoing pollution since some of these effects of such projects are left as government secrets. The governments and the regional authorities need to instill policies and mechanisms that protect such water bodies.
The effects of water pollution are monumental and adverse in some cases the hazards directly witnessed by the populations. For example, in the event of spilled oil, the oil may wash up on the nearby beaches, devastates the ecosystem and then severely handicap tourism (Woodford). Moreover, the [populations that are substantially affected by such a pollution as oil spill are not the ones who caused it but are innocent people living nearby, and they pay the ultimate price, economically, socially and also regarding their health (Mason, 215). Another classic example of the effects of water pollution is sewerage discharge into the coastal waters. It could wash up into the areas that individuals consume the water or even engage in activities such as surfing causing a serious health hazard. Those that bathe or surf in such waters may swallow the polluted waters leading to illnesses (Harrison, 200). The effects of water pollution may be both immediate and long-term but either way they adversely affect the quality of life of individuals. It is against the human rights and freedoms of individuals in infringing and risking both their health and economic activities through pollution and therefore the government needs to act to protect them at all costs.
Critics may be fast to argue that pollution is an inescapable consequence of human activity resulting from industrialization. Arguing that pollution is a necessary evil is a fallacious point of argument since human beings should accept development with a degree of control and also institute measures that ensure that they do not interfere with nature (Woodford). It is because a hostile nature can result to wiping out of an entire generation since some of the resources such as water are commodities that humans cannot thrive without. Furthermore, the costs of water pollution as a consequence to industrialization far more outweigh the benefits that result from the manufacturing, especially in the long term. Therefore, all the governments and industry players cannot afford the luxury of dismissing or undermining the intensity and effects of water pollution (Woodford).
In conclusion, destroying the environment ultimately reduces the quality of life of individuals, yet the purpose of the government is to make the quality of life of the citizens better. Therefore, the government has a mandate and a role to play in curbing, mitigating and stopping the water pollution menace. The government can do so through education and capacity building, having laws protecting the resource and other policies that protect the valuable resources. The government has a duty of protecting all the U.S waters under the Clean Water Act and also ensures some policies and practices provide a safe and sufficient water supply through efficient pollution controls, infrastructure improvement as well as pollution controls. Water resources are not unlimited and cannot handle pollution and therefore, they need protection from the government.