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Reports & Essays: Science - Earth

"AND""OR"

Clean Water
As swans drift with the current on a secluded lake in upper Canada they think not of the water they are in but of dreams of the past and wants for the future. On the other hand, seals off the coast of Northern California fear for their lives every day of humans exploiting their natural habitat. Many things can endanger water born animals, and most all of these come directly from humans. The pollutants of water come from many sources both close and far away from the water body itself. Wastes of humans are the major cause of pollution in the water, such materials include sewage, chemicals among other notable items. First, the composition water: water is odorless, tasteless and a transparent liquid. Though in large quantities water appears to have a bluish tint, it maintains the transparent tendency when observed in smaller quantities. Water covers approximately seventy percent of the Earth's surface in the solid and liquid form. Pollutants can be carried over a great distance by combining with evaporating moisture, forming clouds and then the wind taking the clouds to the larger body of water. This process is called acid rain and it is a major source of water pollution. Acid rain has been a problem since the Industrial Revolution, and has kept growing ever since. With acid rain moving over to a fresh water body, the plants and animals could experience pollution that they never had to deal with before and they could possibly die for the sudden change without them having time to adapt, if this is possible. Clean water involves seclusion of lakes and hoping the acid rain does not reach these pure water supplies. Another major source of contaminating clean water are oil spills and how destructively they blanket the shoreline they come in contact with. Although offshore drilling expeditions contribute some to the devastating outcome, oil tankers are the superior enemies toward the water. One estimate is that for every one million tons of petroleum shipped one ton is spilled. The largest super tanker spill was in 1979 when 3.3 million barrels was spilled off the coast of France. The largest in the United States was the Exxon Valdez in the gulf of Alaska. On the night of March 24, 1989 the 987 foot Exxon Valdez ran aground in the gulf of Alaska spilling 260,000 barrels of oil. With the help of the forceful winds, the slick soon covered about 1,100 miles of shoreline, including many islands in the sound. Hundreds of thousands of birds nesting along the shore were killed, along with several thousand sea mammals. The captain of this tanker soon lost his job after leaving the controls to a uncertified officer. Because of the widespread destruction and death to the sea bearing animals, the Exxon company forfeited over one billion dollars to the federal government. Despite the constant cleaning of drinking water, some chemicals break through the filter and can cause health problems. Nitrates in "clean" water can create a diseases in babies and could cause death. Cadmium can cause liver and kidney damage if taken in sufficient amounts. Approximately forty-five million tons of wastes are dumped into marine waters every year. Toxic substances and the intake of these wastes by natural organisms have very serious consequences on this delicate ecosystem could catch up with the polluters without them knowing it. An accumulation of garbage in the sea floor and the growth of undesirable organisms also have a very harmful effect on the growth, or destruction, of our waters. Although strict control over polluting the waters are enforced by the U.S. federal government. The latest act approved upon to control this harmful dumping was the Clean Water Act of 1977 which established strict controls and cleanup for pollution. Also, dumping contamination into waters surronding the United States requires a permitt was also established secured in hopes of the government monitoring what goes into our resoviers of life. Clean water comes from keeping the polluatnts out of the water. If the pollutants are kept out of the water the seal could have the same life as the swan and live without fear of pollution. By showing how the contaminants get into the water possibly people could try to keep the pollution in the proper place and out of the once clean rivers, lakes and oceans. Bibliography Nature in America, Reader's Digest, 1991 Our Endangered Planet, Oceans, Lerner Publication Company, 1991 Our World, National Geographic, 1980

 



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