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Sources of Water Pollution

Sources of Water Pollution

Definition of Water Pollution

Water pollution is the release of solid/chemical wastes into lakes, oceans, rivers, water streams, and other water sources, making it unsafe for use. These chemical and solid substances deplete water quality, making it toxic for humans and other living organisms in the ecosystem (Laposta, 2018). Wastes that cause water pollution include industrial chemicals, microorganisms, and the release of energy in the form of heat. Human activities, such as the disposal of solid wastes in water streams, have also become the primary sources of water pollution (Wang, 2018). Sources of water pollution are classified depending on where the substances that cause pollution originate. There are two pollution sources: point pollution source and non-point pollution.

Point and Non-Point Pollution Sources

The point source is pollution originating from one primary source that is easily identified. For instance, a waste discharge pipe from a manufacturing plant or a sewage pipe from a residential home to a nearby river is an excellent example of point source pollution. Non-point source does not originate from one central point, but it takes different combinations of liquid wastes, wastes, and discharge of gases into water sources that one cannot trace the root cause. An excellent example of non-point pollution is solid waste in a river because of rainwater or human disposal floods.

Pollution Source that is Easy to Identify and Legislate

Since point source pollution originates from a single source, it is easily identifiable for mitigation to prevent further water pollution and the environment as a whole compared to non-point sources. Legislation of point sources makes it more accessible for the government to impose strict rules to regulate the disposal of waste from factories and sewage plants into water sources. Point source pollution is easy to legislate because it is caused by human activities that are preventable when compared to non-point pollution, which is a combination of human activities and nature that cannot be controlled. Legislation to prevent water pollution requires resources. Resources used for legislation of point source pollution are less because they target a single identifiable source.

Pollution source that is a threat to freshwater

Point and non-point source pollution are a threat to water pollution. When it comes to the current freshwater pollution, the non-point source is a significant threat. A non-point source has more than one source of pollution that cannot be easily identified. Non-point is mostly a combination of human and natural activities that cause water pollution. Natural phenomena such as floods are beyond human control, and it becomes a challenge to prevent such water pollution sources. Chemical wastes from factories released to water sources have affected living organisms such as fish that depend on freshwater. Liquid wastes have also made the water unsafe for drinking.


Wang, Y., Yang, J., Liang, J., Qiang, Y., Fang, S., Gao, M., & Feng, Y. (2018). Analysis of the environmental behaviour of farmers for non-point source pollution control and management in a water source protection area in China. Science of the Total Environment.

Withgott, J., Laposta, M., (2018). The science behind the stories. Essential Environment


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Sources of Water Pollution

Sources of Water Pollution

Define water pollution, point-source pollution, and non-point-source pollution. Which of the two (point source or non-point source) is more accessible to identify? Which is more accessible to legislate? Which currently poses the greatest threat to freshwater?

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