Facing the Facts About Water Pollution

Most of the earth’s surface is made up of water – in fact, the land to water ratio on the earth is about 29% land to 71% water, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Though often taken for granted, water is by far our most precious resource as humans. While a person can live for nearly a month without food, one can only survive about a week without water. Since this week (Sept. 21-27, 2014) is Pollution Prevention Week, we’d like to share this mix of well-known and obscure facts and trivia about water and water pollution.


Cuyahoga River Fire
AS this AP photo shows, a fire tug fights flames on the Cuyahoga River near downtown Cleveland, Ohio, where oil and other industrial wastes caught fire June 25, 1952.

FACT: Water pollution isn’t a new problem.
For centuries, humans contaminated drinking water with raw sewage, unaware that such actions were the source of diseases like cholera and typhoid. Large factories and manufacturing plants that exploded into the scene during the Industrial Revolution poured pollutants directly into rivers and streams, because it was convenient and they didn’t know any better. It took the Cuyahoga River fire of 1969 and subsequent national media coverage to raise awareness and eventually inspire the Clean Water Act to reduce water pollution.

FACT: There’s still a lot of contaminated water in the US.
Despite diligent efforts from the EPA to regulate wastewater and runoff from polluting our waterways, it’s still an issue today – each year, 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, stormwater and industrial waste are dumped into US water. Maybe that’s why approximately 40% of the country’s rivers and 46% of its lakes are too polluted for fishing, aquatic life or swimming. Or that every year, nearly 25% of U.S. beaches must close at least once because of polluted water.

FACT: Much of the developing world still does not have access to clean drinking water on a regular basis.
Each year, water-borne diseases claim the lives of an estimated 5 to 10 million people; every 20 seconds, a child dies from contaminated water sources, their bodies often hosts to hundreds of parasitic worms. Unsafe water is the number one source of death and disease globally – it contributes to 80% of all the disease in the world!

More on facts and infographics:

More people die from waterborne disease, than die in armed conflict. Support WaterStep and their mission to save lives with safe water.

FACT: Your old shoes can help fight water pollution worldwide.
Do you have a pair of shoes you don’t wear anymore? Donate them to WaterStep, and help fund safe drinking water projects all over the world. WaterStep accepts all types of shoes, from high heels to tennis shoes. Shoes that can be re-worn are sold to an exporter and funds received help bring clean water to those in need; shoes that cannot be re-worn are recycled. WaterStep is an international organization dedicated to saving lives all over the world with safe water. If you’re in the Louisville, KY area, feel free to drop your shoe donation by the C.I.Agent Solutions office – we have a donation drop site in our hallway! For more information about WaterStep, visit www.waterstep.org.


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