Water Degradation Essay Research Paper Water Degradation

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Water Degradation Essay, Research Paper Water Degradation Based on the article: River Life Through U.S. Broadly Degraded. By William K. Stevens, Jan. 26, 93 Society has been presented with a broad spectrum of cause and effectrelationships within the water based ecosystems. Without a conscious effort torehabilitate our water systems many rivers and lakes are doomed. We have to look afterthis precious resource. Fortunately many new controls and clean up programs have beenintroduced. Rivers are being devastated due to physical and ecological transformation. Thisdecrease in the quality of river and water bodies results from human activities andprocesses. The ecosystems are changing rapidly. It is necessary to maintain aconsistent balance in these ecosystems. Imbalances are

occurring with nutrient levels,water temperature, water level, and sedimentation. “The stream then carries moresediment and becomes wider, shallower, and warmer, making the water unfit for manyvital organisms.” (Stevens, New York Times, Jan. 26, 1993) The activities affecting the streams are as diverse as the areas in which streamsare being affected. Dams are capable of destroying total ecosystems. They affectwater levels, and thus affect water temperature. Changes in river temperature candestroy total population of organisms. In addition they affect nutrient levels bycutting them off, not allowing them to flow down stream. Salmon runs often fall preyto the concrete monsters. Although this is often bypassed with salmon elevators.Development of land often results in the

straightening, channeling, and diversionof the rivers and streams. Many rivers and streams have simply dried up most of theyear, and some never make it all the way to the ocean. This can be devastating to thewide variety of species, and decimate niches and ecosystems lowering the biological+ h) 0*0*0*. . + diversity. Development is often detrimental to river bank vegetation. This allowswater to run off too quickly, thus reducing the water holding capacity of the land, andadding to sedimentation. Channeling and diversion can also be found in agriculture and farming practices.In addition chemical fertilizer and animal waste products run off causes an overabundance of nutrients being added to the water disrupting the delicate balances.Plowing and other practices leave soil victim to

erosion which adds to thesedimentation of the river. Forestry is also a major cause of stream sedimentation. When the plant materialis removed the soil surface it is left very susceptible to erosion. This produces a lotof excess sedimentation over a long period of time. After an area is cleared thechemical balances are affected as well. “In particular, Ranberg and colleagues provedthat alkalinity increased when forest land was converted into agricultural land andacidification occurred when practices were abandoned.” (Charles, Nature, April 29,93) This clearly shows how the lake chemistry is affected by forestry and agriculture.Urban and suburban areas are also to blame. We continuously remove water from our water ways for use, and replace it with wastes. This leads to

nutrification andgeneral deterioration of the water. “Nationwide, there are 2,100 health advisories forfish contaminated by toxic chemicals, according to a 1991 National Academy of Sciencesreport, Seafood Safety.” (Marx, EPA Journal, Sept-Oct, 92) Heated effluent releasedinto river ecosystems are often detrimental. Emissions affect lake and riveracidification and therefore the ability to support aquatic organisms. The effects ofacid rain take a heavy toll on ecosystems whether they are water based or not. Another problem the river ecosystems are facing are exotic species. Somespecies are just naturally occurring incidence, others are human introduced. “Theyhave significantly reduced biological diversity through predation, alteration of habitat,introduction of diseases or