Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 5

1

Water is more valuable than gold as all living creatures require


water to live. Although the Earths surface is covered by 70% of water,
only a small percent are really hygienic and safe to be consumed by living
things. This is because damage to waterways nowadays has increasingly
becoming a significant problem that all humans and living organisms all
around the world have to deal with. This pollution is caused by human
activities as development occurs and the human population increases.
This essay will discuss the principal causes and effects of damage to
waterways.
The three chief causes of this devastation are agricultural, industrial
and dams construction. Firstly, according to Gay (1990, p14) and Williams
(1991, p31), agricultural wastes have greatly contributed to this damage
through the flow of excess chemical fertilisers into streams. Phosphorus
and nitrogen are examples of chemical fertilisers that are commonly used
by farmers, as soils require nutrients from fertilisers in order for crops to
grow (Gay, 1990, p14). These chemicals then drain into the nearest rivers
causing the level of nutrients in the water to increase. In brief, agricultural
activities have to be managed properly so that water damage can be
reduced.
The next major cause that damages rivers and lakes is industrial
activities especially from factories. Industrial wastes, especially liquids are
often drained illegally or sometimes by accident into the rivers nearby.
This is because some companies try to cut the costs by illegally disposing
these wastes such as oils, fuels, toxins and heavy metals like mercury as
2

some of these wastes are very toxic and expensive to deal with (Rivers,
2010, p19). As an example, there is one infamous case happened in 1952
to 1953, where it was reported that at least 155 tons of industrial wastes
were dumped into the Cuyahoga River (Gay, 1990, p15). Thus, industrial
activities are responsible for the pollutants that contaminate streams,
rivers and lakes.
Lastly, the final main cause of damage to waterways globally is
construction of dams. Generally, dams are built extensively to benefit
mankind as dams store water for irrigation, control floods as dams can
restrain water flow, and generate electricity (Williams, 1991, p32).
However, these constructions have changed the natural flow of rivers due
to huge barriers of dams as well as deforestation. Deforestation refers to
the clearing of trees or forests by humans. This is because huge spaces
are needed to build enormous dams and reservoirs. Trees are cut down in
massive numbers, so, the surface of lands are exposed to erosion and run
off easily (Williams, 1991, p31). Besides, rivers are then diverted so the
water will flow into the dam to be stored, then a small percentage of water
is released back to the river to avoid overflowing. Thus, even though dams
give advantages to mankind, the effects of dams are considerable.
In summary, these three major causes, which are agricultural,
industrial and building of dams, have led to negative impacts to waterways
that cannot be ignored. This damage has jeopardised the environment,
aquatic life and humans health.
3

It must be acknowledged that the environment will surely be
affected by the damage to waterways. Many trees and species of wildlife
are gone due to constant logging in order to build dams. As a proof,
Moreau, Ernsberger and Platt (2010, p28) have stated that Laos wanted to
build another huge dam along the Theun river, so 1 million cubic metres of
trees had to be harvested for the construction. As a result, many wildlife
died because their habitats are being destroyed and some of them are
now nearly extinct, for instance, wild tigers, elephants, goatlike saola and
deerlike giant muntjac (Moreau, Ernsberger & Platt, 2010, p28). In
addition, due to deforestation, soil erosion also occurs and it leads to
flooding. When the trees and grass are gone, the roots are no longer
available to hold the soil tightly so when it rains, the soils are also washed
away with the rainwater into streams. This results in production of
sediments that will block waterways and fill the streams. As a result of loss
of soils, streams dry out. Hence, floods occur more frequently (Williams,
1991, p31). Therefore, these activities, which are deforestation and
constructions of dams did by humans, have affected the environment
negatively.
Apart from the environment being affected, aquatic life also faces
severe consequences because of this damage. The water-based
inhabitants are being harmed as the water provides them basic needs
such as food, oxygen and shelter in order for them to sustain their lives.
Hence, without clean rivers and lakes, fish and aquatic plants may die.
Gay (1990, p14) points out that when nutrients from fertilisers flow into
4

streams, the water may become eutrophic or well-nourished. As the level
of nutrients in the streams increasing excessively, hypereutrophication of
water occurs. Fertilisers are meant to help crops to grow, so when it flows
into rivers, aquatic plants also grow rapidly especially algae. Water
Pollution: An Introduction (2009, p42) states that when algae grows
massively in the water, harmful algae blooms may occur which turn the
water red and lead to dead zones. As the plants grow quickly, they also
decay at a fast rate, which use up oxygen. Hence, oxygen decreases in
water and as a result, the organisms living underwater may die. This in
turn means fish catches also decrease leading to food shortage. Hence,
humans are a threat to aquatic life as their activities can lead to death of
many underwater creatures.
Finally, damage to waterways can contribute to humans health
problems as humans consume water in their daily lives especially in
drinking water. When too many nitrates run off into streams, this causes
nitrate pollution problems and it may flow into drinking water sources as
well. Too many nitrates in drinking water may cause illnesses (Rivers,
2010, p19). Correspondingly, as reported by Williams (1991, p31), over 25
million people died because of polluted drinking water and at least 80 per
cent of diseases are caused by dirty water. Water-borne diseases can be
an effect of water damage. These diseases are usually carried by
pathogens and humans may get illnesses like hepatitis, typhoid and
cholera (Water Pollution: An Introduction, 2009, p42). In short, humans
dependence on waterways causes them to face these negative impacts.
5

Undoubtedly, damage to waterways is a very severe issue
considering that it happens all around the world. This essay has clearly
shown that the principal factors, which are agricultural, industrial and
construction of dams, have drastically affected the environment, aquatic
organisms and humans health. If humans continue to take this issue for
granted, fresh and clean water might no longer be available for drinking
and daily usage. Therefore, we should know what the causes of damage
to waterways are so that the negative impacts to all forms of life can be
reduced. Governments too should take proper actions, for instance,
enforcing laws and imposing fines on those individuals or factories that
break the laws.