The recent aftermath of Hurricane Florence has resulted in water pollution so bad that you can see it from space.
The primary cause of this excessive pollution was the following floodwaters that whisked away debris from farms, chemical plants, and landfills. Some of the contaminants include pesticides, feces, chemicals, organic matter, and more. The event caused an estimated $38 billion in damages from the 8 trillion gallons of rain it dumped on the Carolinas.
Of course, a natural disaster of this size doesn’t happen every day. But as clean up efforts continue, it’s a cold reminder that we’re polluting our waters in more ways than we think.
We rely on water for just about everything. Drinking, bathing, gardening — everything comes back to water. Most of us in the United States are able to drink clean, potable water thanks to the use of water tanks that filter and store clean water. One hundred percent of water tanks in the U.S. require tank liners and coatings for protection.
We even use water hoses that are certified for potable water. These hoses can reach up to 50 feet in length, ensuring the use of clean water wherever you go. Many people across the globe, however, don’t have these luxuries.
Our plastic use and pollution of local waterways are having more repercussions than we realized. Even Australian pop star Cody Simpson realizes the importance of environmental education.
He notes that an estimated 8 million metric tons of plastic enter our oceans each year. This not only damages ecosystems, but it directly impacts marine life.
“Single-use plastic, such as water bottles, grocery bags, straws and cups — easily avoidable items that are far too commonly used — are just a few examples of what a single person could cut out of their lives in order to start making an impact,” Simpson writes in an Op-Ed piece for Teen Vogue.
But plastic is just the tip of the iceberg.
Here are some of the ways you might be contributing to water pollution without realizing it.
You wash your own car
Even though it might save you a few bucks, washing your car at home is actually damaging your local waterways. This is because the runoff from your car will go into storm drains and groundwater supplies. Car washes actually have standards in place to fix that problem.
“The pros are required to drain their wastewater into sewer systems, where the water is treated for all the bad stuff before being discharged. Many even recycle that water,” claims the Natural Resources Defense Council.
You apply lawn chemicals and fertilizers
Similar to washing your own car, lawn fertilizers look nice but dangerous runoff can contaminate your groundwater. Between herbicides, pesticides, and other environmental chemicals, these can also enter your local streams and lakes, harm nearby animals, and even get into your neighborhood’s drinking water.
Try to use organic lawn treatments or contact a professional about native species to help improve your lawn naturally. Native species are built for your local area, thereby lasting longer and looking better than invasive species.
You pour chemicals down the drain
You wouldn’t put your liquids in the garbage for fear of the bag leaking. So why do you think it’s okay to pour them down the drain?
This is a direct way to introduce these chemicals to your local drinking water. This includes liquid detergents, bleach, and cleaners, but also encompasses anything from medicines to old paints. Dispose of these items responsibly to help your local waterways stay clean and healthy.
Nearly 95% of Americans can reach a beach or other navigable body of water in under an hour. We interact with water every day and should treat it with respect.