Water resources and water pollution
Terms in this set (23)
What are the primary repositories of fresh water on Earth? Which of these repositories is the largest?
ice and glaciers are the largest repositories followed by groundwater, water bodies (streams, lakes, ponds, rivers), and atmospheric water
What is the difference between a confined and an unconfined aquifer? How do their recharge rates differ?
confined: surrounded by a layer of impermeable rock or clay which doesn't permit water to flow to or from the aquifer
unconfined: porous rock covered by soil, so water can easily flow in and out of it
unconfined aquifers can be recharged from precipitation water percolating through the soil
confined aquifers cannot be recharged through the impermeable rock layer unless there is an opening at the land's surface that can serve as a recharge area
How do human activities worsen the effects of droughts and floods?
-large scale use of water from a confined aquifer
-more water is drawn from an aquifer than enters the aquifer like rapid pumping of a deep well
-large expanses of impermeable surfaces (cities with pavement and buildings that don't allow water penetration) can promote flooding with heavy rainfall events
How do levees, dikes, dams, and aqueducts differ from one another? What is the primary purpose of each?
levee: an enlarged bank built up on each side of a river to prevent flooding
dike: built to prevent ocean waters from flooding adjacent land
dam: barrier that runs across a river or stream to control the flow of water; water is stored behind the dam in a body called a reservoir; used for consumption, hydroelectricity, flood control and recreation
aqueduct: canals or ditches used to carry water from one location to another, typically removing water from a lake or river to transport it where its most needed
What are the dominant uses of water by humans?
agriculture, industry and household needs (toilet flushing, bathing, laundry, cooking and drinking)
How do different irrigation methods influence water use?
furrow irrigation: trenches are dug and filled with water along crop rows; 65% efficient, other 35% runs off or evaporates
flood: flooding an entire field with water and letting the water soak in evenly; 70-80% efficient
spray: water sprays across a field like a sprinkler; 75-95% efficient
drip: slowly dripping hose that is laid on ground or buried beneath soil; over 95% efficient
Why is water ownership a complex issue?
having a right to USE water isn't the same as OWNING it; its hard to say who owns it because everyone needs it
What are some of the ways that humans can conserve water?
-produce more efficient manufacturing equipment
-installing gutter systems to collect rainwater or using filtered waste-water
-removing water-intensive plants and replacing them with water-efficient landscaping
How does economic development influence water use?
-growing populations and expansion of irrigated agriculture have increased water withdrawals; global water use is expected to grow with the human population
-in developed countries, water use efficiency is helping water withdrawals level off
What is water pollution? Why is it important to learn about water pollution?
-the contamination of streams, rivers, lakes, oceans or groundwater with substances produced through human activities and that negatively affect organisms
-many ecological connections between aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, therefore water pollution has the potential to impact both aquatic and terrestrial organisms
What are point and non-point pollution sources? How do they differ?
point: distinct locations such as a factory that pumps its waste into nearby streams or a sewage treatment plant that discharges its waste water from a pipe into the ocean
non-point: more diffuse areas (an entire farming region, suburban community with many lawns/septic systems or storm runoff)
What are the most common types of pollutants in the water?
human wastewater: oxygen-demanding waste (orgo matter that enters water and feeds the growth of microbes that are de-composers), nutrient release (products of the decomposition:nitrogen&phosphorus, soaps&detergents, etc.) and disease-causing organisms (wastewater containing pathogens like cholera or typhoid fever)
What problems are associated with sewage?
even in developed countries, sewage can be pumped directly into rivers and lakes
sewage contains harmful pathogens
Describe and contrast the two most common ways to treat wastewater.
septic systems: each house has its own sewage treatment plant, used in rural areas; wastewater leaves house and settles to sludge layer, septage layer and scum layer; septage spreads across the leach field while the harmful pathogens settle and become part of the sludge, later to be eaten by other microorganisms or broken down to CO2 and enter streams, aquifers, or plants
sewage treatment plants: used in greater population density areas; primary goal is to get solid waste material to settle out of the wastewater so it can be treated in secondary treatment with a UV light to kill pathogens; solid waste (now sludge) is broken down to organic material and inorganic nutrients; water is removed and it is taken to a landfill, burned or used as fertilizer
In what ways are animal waste treated differently from human waste?
-only a problem with high pop. density
-manure from animal waste can contain hormones and antibiotics given to animals
-many farms have built manure lagoons which are ponds lined with rubber to prevent leaching into groundwater
Describe the primary dangers associated with heavy metals in water.
- lead poisoning, high concentrations of arsenic in groundwater, poor coordination, impaired sense of touch taste and sight
Name examples of synthetic compounds that have been found in our water supply and explain why they are a concern.
pesticides: can increase through trophic levels and alter physiological designs (eagle egg breaking prematurely)
pharmaceuticals: unknown effects, but 50% of all streams contained antibiotics/reproductive hormones, 80% nonprescription drugs, 90% steroids
industrial cleaners: affect thyroid gland, reduce hormone production
How can non-chemical water pollution be addressed?
addressing the human activities which cause this pollution (construction of houses, malls, anything that digs up soil), plowing of ag fields, etc.
Name several ways in which oil gets into the ocean.
spills from oil tankers
leaks from drilling for undersea oil using offshore platforms
natural seepage from the bottom of the ocean (60% of all oil in waters around N. Am and 45% of all oil worldwide)
Describe the effects of an oil spill.
-spill initially killed 250,000 seabirds, 2800 otters, 300 seals and 22 orcas
-initially harmed species were concluded to have rebounded 20 years after spill
-oil is never completely removed and will take more than 100 yrs to completely breakdown
What are three ways to remediate an oil spill?
1. containment and removal
2. dispersal with detergents
3. promotion of bacterial breakdown
What is an MCL?
Maximum Contaminant Levels
Describe some of the legislative actions taken to protect clean water and why they are significant.
-Clean Water Act supports protection and conservation of fish and wildlife and recreation in and on the water
-water regulations have reduced contamination of waters and
nearly eliminated major point sources of water pollutoin
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