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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. 

Nature in America, Reader's Digest, 1991
Our Endangered Planet, Oceans, Lerner Publication Company,
Our World, National Geographic, 1980



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