Water Pollution Solutions For Households

Water pollution solutions do not only lie with governments and international agencies. Given the various causes of water pollution, there are many things that household can do to help with the water pollution problems locally and internationally.

Of course, governments and international health and humanity agencies have important roles to play in terms of how to stop water pollution globally, whether it is through education of the masses, or through putting in place proper and effective water cleaning and sewage systems, or through enforcing strict laws against water pollution by industries, households and individuals.

Nonetheless, the responsibility for water pollution solutions does not only lie with the authorities and organizations. Households too contribute to water pollution. For example, households are one of the main sources of water pollution by sewage and chemicals (e.g. found in conventional cleaning liquids, pesticides, etc). Households with gardens that make use of fertilizers can also contribute to water pollution.

At the same time, households, or families to be exact, also form the foundation for other human organizations. This is because the household or family is where people often acquire important life values and habits. If all households and families are aware of the importance of not polluting the waters and take conscious effects to reduce water pollution, it would be hard to imagine a world filled with water polluting individuals, companies and industries. In other words, water pollution solutions for the world must first start with the household and the home.

So as governments and authorities find water pollution solutions for countries, continents and the world, households and families also need to do their part.

Here are some water pollution solutions that your household can adopt.

Reduce the discharge of chemicals into water

You might not be aware, but the typical household actually discharges a substantial amount of toxic chemicals into the water systems. This is because the conventional cleaning agents (e.g. dishing washing liquid, floor mopping detergent, etc), personal care products (e.g. shampoos), fertilizers and pesticides, etc that are used in many households are made up of large amounts of toxic chemicals such as Triclosan. However, in the instances when the water treatment systems are unable to remove these toxic chemicals effectively from the waste water, these chemicals will end up in the world’s water bodies, contributing to water pollution.

As such, it is important to watch what you empty into the sinks, toilet bowls and drains etc.

One of the best thing you could do as household water pollution solutions is to switch to eco-friendly home cleaners and other eco friendly items for the household, like organic fertilizers and organic pesticides. These eco-friendly household products are usually biodegradable, and would break down into harmless substances after a while. As such, the impact they have on water sources and the environment is minimal.

Dispose of toxic household chemicals safely

Highly toxic chemicals like paint, used engine oil or gasoline should NOT be emptied into drains or the drainage holes in your house at all! This means that you should not even wash paint brushes at the sink as well.

Some say a general guideline to follow is not to discard of any substance that you won’t drink or swim in, into the drains or any part of the drainage system. Instead, dispose of these chemical substances safely.

Some agencies take in unwanted paint for recycling, while there are agencies that may pay you for your unwanted engine oil. There are also many agencies and companies that provide for the safe disposal of toxic chemicals. For example, the Bureau of Sanitation, Department of Public Works, Los Angeles, provides a list of S.A.F.E. Permanent Collection Centers that take in solvents and flammable chemicals for disposal. The San Francisco Household Hazardous Waste Facility handles paint, thinners, household batteries and even mercury containing thermometers. In Singapore, companies like Pure Chem Veolia Enviromental Services Pte Ltd also handle hazardous waste. Make use of these agencies to help you dispose of hazardous toxic household waste safely and contribute to water pollution solutions.

If however, you do not live in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Singapore, but wish to find out how you can dispose of your household toxic chemicals, the simple rule of the thumb is to check with your local municipality, your local environmental authority or local refuse collection companies. Different places have different systems and guidelines in place, so the best is still to check the specifics in your area.

To spare yourself the problem of having to dispose of hazardous waste safely in the first place, what you can do is to minimize your purchase of such toxic chemicals. Do not purchase more paint than you actually need for your construction project, or better still, make your own organic paint!

Drive less and maintain your vehicle

You must be wondering how driving less can serve one of the effective water pollution solutions. The reason is because driving actually releases substantial amounts of nitrous oxides into the air. When these nitrous substances dissolve in precipitation etc and enter the water bodies, they actually pollute water bodies via eutrophication. According to GrinningPlanet.com, about 1/3 of water pollution by nitrogen in the Chesapeake Bay is a result of nitrogen deposition from air pollution by vehicles.

Besides driving less, there are other eco-friendly driving tips you can adopt as water pollution solutions.

Keep your vehicle in good working condition – a poorly maintained car produces more pollution per distance traveled than a well-maintained one.

Oil stains on your porch where your vehicle was parked signals that your vehicle might be leaking energy oil. As one of the water pollution solutions, soak up the oil leak with cat litter or sawdust, then dispose of the cat litter or sawdust in the garbage. And have that oil leak problem fixed immediately. This is because the oil leaks could be washed into open drains when it rains, leading to water pollution by oil. These tips can similarly be applied if you own a motor boat, jet ski or even a private plane.

Reducing surface run-offs as water pollution solutions

According to the EPA, polluted stormwater run-off is one of the greatest causes of water pollution in the Atlanta Region. The pollution of stormwater run-offs is a common phenomenon in cities, as the landscape changes from grass-filled land – that allows rainwater to be readily absorbed into the soil, to hard concrete roads, pavements etc – that allow rainwater to run off rapidly through streets, carrying all sorts of materials (e.g. soil, fertilizer, pesticide, rubbish, oil from automobiles, animal waste, etc) with it.

The polluted stormwater eventually enters storm drains, which may then be emptied directly into a stream or river, or even the sea. This is problematic, because the polluted stormwater has not been treated or filtered. In addition, increased amounts of stormwater run-offs can also increase the incidents of flooding and the erosion of stream banks, resulting in more sediment entering the water bodies.

As one of the water pollution solutions for households to help reduce the volume of stormwater run-off in developed regions, the Chesapeake Conservation Landscaping Council promotes the use of rain barrels and rain gardens.

Rain barrels are water pollution solutions for households, as they help to capture rainwater running off rooftops, and as such help to reduce the volume of ground stormwater run-off. In this way, rain barrels help to keep our underground water and water bodies less polluted from the pollutants that are picked up by surface run-offs on the way to storm drains.

In addition, the rainwater collected could also be used to water your garden, fill your garden pond, bathe your pet, or even wash your car, as such helping you save on your water bills. Rainwater is also healthier for your plants and pets, as compared to the chorine-filled water from the taps. The rainwater that you collect during the wetter seasons would come in really handy during the dryer months.

And what’s more, rain barrels are relatively affordable and simple to use. They usually cost about $50 to $200, and properly designed ones do not allow for mosquito breeding. Note however, the rainwater collected is not meant for human consumption.

In turn, rain gardens are water pollution solutions that comprise of landscaping features that you can set up in your garden or lawn to help slow down rainwater run-offs. Rain gardens function by capturing the run-off water in a shallow depression in the soil, which then allows the rainwater to slowly drain into the ground instead of running off to the storm drains. This process not only serves as water pollution solutions, it also helps to replenish underground water with water filtered by the soil. Several depressions (known as garden depressions) are connected to a dry steambed which allows for the overflow of rainwater. Pathways are constructed in rain gardens using pebbles and pervous pavers that allow the rainwater to be absorbed by soil beneath and between the stones.

Rainwater that falls on rain garden usually soaks into the ground within one or two days, as such, reducing the chance of mosquitoes breeding. Because plants requiring more water are placed at the trough of the garden depressions, while plants requiring less water are placed at the higher sloping edges of the depression, rain gardens allow for a greater variety of plant life within the same garden. In addition, the moisture retained by rain gardens can even help support the needs of nearby trees during the dry seasons.

Other general household water pollution solutions

Reducing your use of water is one of the easy-to-implement water pollution solutions. Less water used means less water polluted, which in turn means less water that needs to be treated before it gets discharged (usually into the seas) eventually. Read about water conservation.

Send whatever you can for recycling. Plastics and metal items can be recycled; they should not be discarded into drainage systems, rivers or seas. Read about how the Great Pacific Garbage Patch is already filled with large quantity of plastic debris.

Do not over apply fertilizers and pesticides in your garden or lawn. This is because the excess would be washed off into the water systems on rainy days, leading to water pollution by eutrophication or chemical poisoning. If you can, make use of natural fertilizers and organic pesticides instead as they are less harmful (as mentioned above) and will help as water pollution solutions.

In the same way, do not dispose of dead leaves or grass clippings in the drains or rivers. They will clog up the water ways, and contribute to water pollution by eutrophication.

If you own a private property, do regular checks on your sewer pipes. Broken or cracked sewer pipes leak untreated waste and pollute underground water, and should be fixed immediately.

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