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[EV0601] Topic overview – Protection of Water Quality


About the topic  

Accessible water

Deterioration of water quality means that the amount of water suitable for consumption by humans will be reduced. Nowadays, WHO and UNICEF approximately 894 million people do not have access to sufficient amount and quality water. Approximately 700 million people use polluted water.  

Therefore, providing equal access to clean water requires not only reduced consumption, but also prevention of pollution. 

Specific problems

Intensive Influence and Pollution

Each one of us, intentionally or unintentionally, has an impact on water while engaged in industrial or household activities and contributes to its constant pollution. The problem on the state level is limited number or sometimes absence of sewage treatment plants. Which is why polluted waters run directly into rivers. Furthermore, there is no practice of waste management on a corporate level. The problem occurs because some companies are not concerned  that  chemicals used for production of goods or services are hazardous for nature. Large and family-owned farms excessively and incorrectly  use chemicals and pesticides. On an individual level, humans pollute rivers, forests and non-specifically designated areas, which eventually pollutes soil and water.

Treat for life on Earth

Polluted water is dangerous for humans and other species. For example, plastic residue, the main source of water pollution, destroys life in oceans. It is regarded that such pollution was the reason for the extinction of more than 100 000 mammals, seabirds and fish. It is a proven fact that the rate of extinction of water animals is five times faster than land animals. In 2010, in the Gulf of Mexico large amounts of petrol were spilled resulting in the death of thousands of animals and birds many of which were on the verge of extinction. 

Polluted water has a negative impact on human’s health and may result in chemical poisoning, contamination with hepatitis, cholera, diarrhea, gastro-enteritis, typhoid and etc.

It’s relatively difficult to identify the long-term impact of water pollution on human health. For example,  it is still unknown whether chemically polluted rivers cause cancer in people living alongside the river? Such research if conducted should be comprehensive and complex and furthermore, such research can not be conducted without the political will. 

Therefore, in Georgia there are not a lot of such researches conducted.


Types of pollution and its sources

80% of water pollution is caused by household consumption: mislocating waste in water and other not specifically assigned areas.   

Furthermore, the sewage system is one of the serious sources of water pollution. For example, Asia has  the highest number of polluted rivers in the world and the source of pollution is mostly caused by the bacteria from human excrements.

In Georgia most of the populated areas do not have sewage treatment plants. Therefore, municipal waters are contributors to 57% water pollution in the country. 

Mining the ores is quite problematic in terms of water pollution. In the process of mining usually requires the use of various chemical concentrates causing serious pollution of soil and water. 

Agriculture has a huge negative impact on chemical pollution of water. .

Fun Facts

  • Minamata Case – Minamata is a town in Japan where the first Minamata disease was reported. Citizens of Minamata developed loss of coordination. In Minamata, near the river, a chemical plant was processing mercury spilling polluted water into the river. The river joined the bay where Minamatans loved to fish and eat the catch. Eventually the level of mercury in the citizens’ body reached an alarming rate and caused intoxication. The mercury regulating convention was called the Minamata Convention.  Georgia joined the convention, however, still the level of mercury of all citizens can not be identified. Minamata is a vivid example of creating a harmful environment for humans through water pollution. 
  • In US rivers and lakes are so polluted, there is practically no life (fish) in them. It is forbidden to swim in rivers. The water pollution level is very high. 
  • Every year, in the world, 5-20 million people die from deceases born from water pollution.     
  • It takes on average 450 years or more for a plastic bottle to degrade. Polyethylene bag needs 200-1000 years.   


Global cooperation

Water pollution reduction strategies will only be effective  in case of international cooperation, planning and execution.For example, in case of transboundary rivers, if the country where the higher part of the river is located does not consider standards against water pollution, the lower location country suffers from polluted water purifying of which is nearly impossible.  

Good example of global cooperation is the International Commision of Dunai Protection, founded in 1994 and uniting 14 countries. The objective of organization is to promote sustainable and equal consumption of Dunai water. The commission is regulated by the Dunai Protection Convention which is a judicial instrument of international cooperation for Dunai water basin transboundary management. 


Behavior change of each human being

Apart from global cooperation, each of us can contribute to overcoming problems related to water. Therefore acknowledging and undertaking individual responsibility is very important.

Reducing sources of water pollution

One of the important things  which could make a difference on an individual level is reducing  or stopping the use of  disposable household items. We have to understand that water is used during the production of disposable item. Using and disposing these items creates waste and significantly pollutes the environment and water. Significant step has been banning disposable bags and introduction of fabric or paper bags. We have to remember that plastic disposable items are the highest contributor for nature pollution. 

State organizations’ are responsible to enact reasonable regulations and standards and help those sectors who are obliged to follow these regulations. This could imply reduction of chemicals or their replacement with eco-friendly products, in production and agriculture; deployment of water purifying processes, fostering development of waste management entities.  

Working with students

  • Local pollutants – students can analyze what are the pollutants in their own surrounding. For example, a broken sewage system, the use of pesticides and etc.
  • Avoid pollution – students  think of or try to find ways to avoid pollution.  
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