ZIMSEC O Level Geography Notes: Natural Resources: Water: Water pollution

  • Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies for example lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers and groundwater.
  • This form of environmental degradation occurs when pollutants are directly or indirectly discharged into water bodies without adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds.
  • Water pollution can also be defined as the process of making water too dirty and dangerous for people to use in a safe way.
  • The most obvious type of water pollution affects surface waters.
  • The amount of fresh water available for human consumption is being reduced by water pollution.
  • There are also two different ways in which pollution can occur.
  • If pollution comes from a single location, such as a discharge pipe attached to a factory, it is known as point-source pollution.
  • Other examples of point source pollution include an oil spill from a tanker, a discharge from a smoke stack (factory chimney), or someone pouring oil from their car down a drain.
  • A great deal of water pollution happens not from one single source but from many different scattered sources. This is called nonpoint-source pollution.
  • Sometimes pollution that enters the environment in one place has an effect hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away. This is known as transboundary pollution.
  • One example is the way radioactive waste travels through the oceans from nuclear reprocessing plants in England and France to nearby countries such as Ireland and Norway.
  • Water can be polluted by:
    1. Human and animal wastes.
    2. Industrial effluent.
    3. Chemicals like pesticides and fertilizers from agriculture.
    4. Oil spills from oil tankers and garages.
    5. Domestic wastes for example cooking oils and detergents.

To access more topics go to the O Level Geography Notes page