Saturday, October 29, 2011

Water Pollution

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No matter where we live, we all know that there are always children playing near their homes. And some of these tract homes have creeks running through them. These are small tributaries leading to larger ones, and eventually leading to rivers or the ocean. Suppose one day we are taking a walk through our neighborhood and we spot children playing near a creek with flowing water, it seems relaxing because it is a warm day. Suddenly, at a far distance we spot a large orange sign that says, “Danger Contaminated Water”. There are many ways that can contaminate our water, such as bad cross connections to water main, street and gutter runoff, and sewer over flows. No matter how our water gets contaminated we ask ourselves, what does that mean? Where did it come from? And why? When we see “Danger Contaminated Water” we should assume the worst.


Spraying pesticide with a garden hose seems like a harmless practice, and usually it is. But if the City’s water supply is interrupted while we are spraying, the pesticide could be drawn back up the hose and into our home drinking water.


The water supply can be interrupted during a water main break or when a water main is shut off for repair. How does the contamination occur?


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1) The water main is shut off for a repair.


) Water flows out a break or crack in the water main into the soil.


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) The water in the household lines drains into the water main, which is at a lower elevation


4) The water draining out of the household line creates a siphon effect.


5) The pesticide in the sprayer, or other contaminant, is siphoned through the hose and into the household water lines.


6) The pesticide can even get into the water main system, which services other houses.


The direct link between a contaminant, such as the pesticide, and our drinking water is called a cross connection. I have used the pesticide sprayer as my example, because most cross connections are created by hoses on our property. To eliminate or control cross connections, just follow these practices.


1) Never place the end of a hose where it can create a vacuum and remove contaminants into our drinking water, this includes swimming pools, fish tanks, laundry tubs, and dark room sinks.


) Leave at least one-inch gaps between the end of the hose and a source of contamination, to eliminate the link between the two (air gap fittings can be purchased for sanitary sewer standpipes.)


) Attach a hose connection vacuum breaker to threaded taps.


Our lakes and rivers are becoming desolate due to water with excess fertilizer running into the fresh water and raw sewage going untreated and straight into the surrounding water. Rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans are some of the most beautiful features of our planet. However, we do not always keep our water as clean as we should.


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Polluted runoff is created unknowingly by individual’s everyday. If contaminants are kept out of the streets, and gutter, much of the ocean and beach pollution can be prevented. Once washed or blown into gutters or storm drains, pollutants are carried through flood control channels to the ocean. Because water from flood control outlets is not treated before reaching the ocean, these pollutants enter the surf at the recreational beaches used by millions each year. Here are some helpful tips to prevent watershed pollution.


1) Remember that what is in our gutter today can be in the streams and oceans tomorrow.


) Report polluting activities


) Call your elected officials and support for strong clean water requirements.


4) Look for and use alternatives to pesticides and other toxic products.


City of San Diego has a large problem with beach closures due to pollutants entering the beaches. The San Diego Bay and the north part of San Diego County are fed by a series of rivers that are short by California’s standards the San Luis Rey, San Diego, Santa Margarita, and Sweetwater Rivers. These rivers and the streams that feed into them make up the arteries in our regions watershed. What flows into and through them ends up on local beaches, bays and wetlands.


San Diego County had by far the largest number of polluted beach closings statewide with a total of 6 closings, plus 1 “extended” and permanent closing. (Water Pollution Pg. 1) High levels of microbial pathogens (disease causing microorganisms) from human and animal wastes are the primary causes of beach closings. These wastes enter coastal waters from municipal sewage treatment


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Plants, combined sewer overflows, sewer overflows, urban storm water systems and a polluted runoff from land. A wide majority related most San Diego beach closings related to “polluted runoff”. With the rising population of San Diego sewage is hard to process, which also causes more runoff. An average of million gallons of raw sewage are diverted into the river and ocean waters everyday. Warning signs are now permanently posted from the south end of Seacoast Drive in Imperial Beach south to the border.


Swimmers can contract illnesses from several pathogens that may be found in polluted waters. Viruses are believed to be the major cause of swimming associated diseases worldwide. Gastroenritis can also be caused by bacteria, and is a common term for a variety of diseases that can have one or all of the following symptoms diarrhea, stomachache, vomiting, and nausea, infection caused by E-coli. Other microbial pathogens found at varying concentrations in recreational water include amoeba and protozoa, which can cause giardiasis, skin rashes, and “pink eye” conditions. AIDS and many other diseases are not carried by enteric pathogens (those that live in the human intestine) in contaminated water. There was one incident at the Saratoga State Park Beach in California, that many swimmers were complaining of nausea and stomach cramps. Paramedics on the scene advised the lifeguards to shut the beach off until further water analysis was performed. Water officials came on site and took various samples of the water. Test results came back positive for fecal coliform, which are human feces. 150 swimmers were affected. After further investigation, it was found that there was a break in an underground sewer line that led into the ocean. The city of Saratoga was sued for millions of dollars. I guess the only advise I have to give when


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thinking about going to the beach, is that to look out for a runoff channel that leads into the beach, stay away from them.


Another way a source can contaminate our water, is by raw sewage overflows. Or treatment plant overflows. Many sewer lines are constructed next to streams to take advantage of the continuous, gradual slopes of stream valleys. Blockages, inadequate carrying capacities, leaking sewer pipes, and power outages at pumping stations often lead to sewage overflows into nearby streams. There are three types of sewer systems


1) They carry storm runoff from streets, parking lots, and roofs through pipes and ditches, and eventually into streams.


) Sanitary sewers carry raw sewage from homes and businesses to wastewater treatment facilities.


) Combined sewers carry a combination of raw sewage and storm water runoff


This picture of a sanitary sewage overflow illustrates a common problem concerning sewage overflows that occur in urban areas (photo #1). Sanitary sewer overflows occur when sewer pipes clog or pumping stations break down (photo #). As shown in photo #1, raw sewage overflows from manholes and leaking pipes into nearby streams rather than backing up into homes and businesses. Sewer pipes clog when something obstructs the normal flow; the leading cause of blockages is grease buildup, which comes from our homes. We ourselves are the culprits of blockages. We simply throw our bacon grease or whatever we use down the kitchen sink. The grease clings to the walls of the pipe and eventually and totally constricts


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the flow. Then all the flow ends up coming out of the manhole. A simple solution to this is for us to use an old coffee can to put the used grease in.


Combined sewer overflows occur during storms when there is more storm water flowing than the pipes leading to a treatment plant can handle. The excess runoff flushes human and industrial wastes, oil, toxic metals, pesticides, and litter into streams.


Water departments have tools and machinery to omit this problem to occur; sometimes it is unavoidable. Sometimes it is not our faults. There are vandals that open up these manhole lids and throw trash and debris down the manhole, which in turn causes a blockage. Water workers have found trees, clothes, tools, and even hoods to vehicles. Water workers never


know what they will find.


We all need to know our whereabouts when our children or us are playing; we need to keep a special eye on places that may carry water contaminants. We need to do our own part in contributing to keep our waters clean. We also need to inform our neighbors if we see anyone dumping anything into our gutters, whether it be hosing down pesticides or draining the coolant from their car engine, we can all make a difference. Also our state authorities need to get involved and enforce the issue of water contamination.


California Water Environment Association, November 1, 00


www.cwea.org


Officials find link between Village sewer and beach, November 14, 00


www.svcn.com/archives/saratoganews/5.16.01/sewer-010.html


Sewage Overflows, November 14, 00


www.shawsheen.org/Powder_Mill_sq./Sewage_Overflows/sewage_overflows.htm


State Water Resources Control Board, November 1, 00


www.swrcb.org


The effects of urbanization on water quality Sewage Overflows, November 14, 00


www.ga.water.usgs.gov/edu/urbansew.html


Water Pollution, November 14, 00


www.msu.edu/atl/GenY_/breifwebpages/Water%0Pollution.htm


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