Pollution in Lake Michigan

Pollution in Lake Michigan

Wetlands present on of the greatest opportunities for conservation exercises in a modern world faced by myriad environmental scares. Inland lakes worldwide are perhaps among the only environmental treasures the world has to protect due to their diversity and environmental importance. In the United States, pollution continues to be a major threat to the integrity of such treasures, which can be protected with the right approaches. The importance of the Great lakes which hold about a fifth of the entire earth’s fresh water cannot be ignored. Pollution concerns of the Great Lakes have been raised by conservationists, inspiring conservation interventions to be designed and carried out. A highlight of the state of pollution, pollutants and conservation interventions at Lake Michigan is made in this discourse. 

Types of Pollution

Lake Michigan has a retention time of about a hundred years, exposing it to several pollution threats. Along the Lake’s basin, several activities take place which further expose the lake to pollution. According to  (Cathy, Emily and Xochi, 1) there are about 362 pollutants that the Great Lakes are exposed to, making Lake Michigan to share in the risks that these pollutants present to the ecosystem. Some of these pollutants include Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), Dichlorodiphenyl Trichloroethane (DDT), Organochlorides and Organophosphates which are not only toxic but difficult to eliminate and manage when in voluminous quantities. There are indications that heavy metals form a part of the pollutants presenting a serious concern to the conservation inputs employed in the lake. Other pollutants that have been isolated from Lake Michigan and the in some of the other Great Lakes include alkylated lead furans, methylmercury dieldrin, toxaphene dioxins, hexachlorobenzene mirex, metabolites among other dangerous pollutants that have attracted the attention of conservationists in the Lake (Cathy, Emily and Xochi, 1).

According to the Delta Institute (1), a significant number of other air pollutants also threaten Lake Michigan, making it difficult to control the conservation condition, even if the industrial controls were put under checks. According to the Institute, various air pollutants in form of precipitation and other gaseous particles enter into the Lake in huge volumes that need urgent conservation checks. Some of these airborne pollutants threatening the conservation activities at the Lake include Atrazine, toxaphene, cadmium, mercury and incinerated fossil fuel residues.


Regarding the extent of pollution mitigation and conservation measures that the American authorities and conservationists have implemented towards the protection of the Lake, it is with much relief that promising plans can be identified. Lake Michigan occupies the third slot in size among the five Great Lakes and wholly inside the United States. As such, it presents a bundle of important place among the American community. Its conservation means assurance of continuity to the great reliance that the environment and the people in the United States make on it for various needs. Animal life and agricultural usages are among the most important needs that the Lake serves with a direct impact to life. These are among some of the benefits that the American people have identified to make an informed decision about the conservation effort that the Lake needs before irreparable damage has been done.

Various government and non-governmental agencies have deliberately made specific projects toward the conservation of the Lake possible. Among some of the most vocal conservationists with this regard include the Nature Conservancy (TNC) which has employed updated conservation strategies on Lake Michigan that had previously used in major conservation drives in Lakes Ontario and Huron (Lake Michigan Forum, 1). A group of conservation experts drawn from the best conservation institutes across the United States have been identified for this noble course. Besides the American contingent of conservationists into the project, the Lake Michigan Forum reports that other powerful federal machinery have been sought. The other player slotted into the strategy by the Lake Michigan Forum is the Michigan Natural Features Inventory.        

Specific projects already on the ground by various interagency cooperation plans include eliminating basic pollution regulations implementation plans around the Lake with follow-ups by state and federal authorities being placed under strict watch (GLIN, 1). Some of the individual conservation projects carried out by various agencies on the Lake include those by; Michigan Dune Alliance and Michigan Farmland Protection among others (Conservation Fund, 1).  The Lake Michigan Shorelands Alliance (1) is perhaps another powerful agency that facilitates the conservation input at the Lake, alongside other government and non-governmental agencies at the site. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources (1) reports that continued conservation vigilance and enforcement of environmental laws have been strengthened to facilitate a comprehensive conservation drive.

Works Cited

Cathy, Emily & Xochi “The Science of Water Pollution in Lake Michigan,” last updated 20 February 1999. Web. http://www.mrfrere.com/tok/water/science.htm (accessed 15 May 2011)

Delta Institute “Air Toxics Significant Pollution Source of Lake Michigan,” (n.d). Web. http://www.mindfully.org/Air/Air-Toxics-Significant.htm (accessed 15 May 2011)

GLIN “Water Pollution in the Great Lakes,” (n.d). Web. http://www.great-lakes.net/teach/pollution/water/water2.html (accessed 15 May 2011)

The conservation Fund, “On-going Projects,” 2011. Web. http://www.conservationfund.org/midwest/michigan (accessed 15 May 2011) The Michigan Department of Natural Resources, “Lake Michigan Basin,” 2011. Web. http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10370_30909_31053-153460–,00.html (accessed 15 May

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Environmental impacts of water pollution from industrial effluents


Water pollution generally can loosely be defined as the contamination of water by foreign bodies which can either be soluble or insoluble e.g. dissolved chemicals and solid particles. Water pollution is caused by many factors but this study will focus on the pollution brought about by the spilling of industrial effluents i.e. chemicals coming out of industries and manufacturing firms. Other forms of water pollution include; anthropogenic pollutants emanating from the careless dumping of garbage by people, pesticides from farms and soil erosion e.t.c.

The most dangerous form of water pollution emanates from industries which come in the form of chemicals and very hot water that are either carelessly dumped or later on washed down by surface run-off thus ending up in rivers and lakes inhabited by flora and fauna. Other form of water pollution includes the belching of smoke containing acidic and poisonous gases like carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide. These gases accumulate in the atmosphere and later on mix with rain water forming acid rain which when it collects in ponds, lakes and other water reservoirs in substantial quantities end up forming acid rain thus interfering with the water P.H by increasing its acidity levels.

The study also proposes solution to this environmental problem and mitigation measures. It also identifies the various stakeholders who play a very central role in addressing this issue of water pollution.

Environmental Impacts of Water Pollution from Industrial Effluents

Water pollution from industrial effluents is one of the very grave causes of water pollution due to its major effects and the time and cost it take to clean such environments or watered areas that have been polluted. This study will examine the impacts of water pollution from industrial effluents to both human and non-living things, mitigations measures and the stakeholders involved plus their roles in ensuring that there is clean water in all the areas.

The origin of water pollution from industrial effluents can be traced way back to the beginning of industrial revolution in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Many nations of the world especially in the north developed quite a number of industries in an attempt to attain economic development. Many had just emerged from the impacts of the Second World War and were therefore in a hurry to catch up with the rest of the world in terms of development. This development was done without taking into account the impacts that these industries would have on the environment and so development went ahead while the environmental paid the heavy price for it.

Industries generally have a two-fold impact to the environmental and especially on water pollutions.  Water pollutions by industries and factories therefore take two forms; one is through the effluents that are constantly being washed away into water courses including hot water that is released into rivers. Secondly, industries through their operations emit poisonous gases; to the atmosphere. These gases which include carbon dioxide and sulphur dioxide accumulate in the atmosphere and later on mix with rain to from acid rain which when combines with the waters in ponds and other water bodies, affect the chemical properties of the water thereby affecting the aquatic lifestyle.

a)      Effects Of Water Pollution

All living things depend on water on their survival and therefore whenever one of them gets affected, the others in the food chain follows suit. Excel Water Technologies argues that the presence of high levels of toxic metals in drinking water – Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, Mercury, and Silver. Pose the greatest threat to human health. Whenever these chemicals get infused in the food chain, they are passed on to the preceding member and when they reach the human being, man also consumes food like fish containing traces of heavy metals in them thus when accumulated in considerable amounts they results in fatal disease like cancer. Water pollution also causes water borne diseases. According to research by Grinning the Planet;

“Waterborne diseases occur when parasites or other disease-causing microorganisms are transmitted via contaminated water, particularly water contaminated by pathogens originating from excreta. These include typhoid, intestinal parasites, and most of the enteric and diarrheal diseases caused by bacteria, parasites, and viruses.”

Animals like birds are also affected. When water containing oil and other chemical compounds finds its way into lakes ad ponds, birds and other marine life forms die as a result of poisoning and lack of oxygen. Plants are also affected as the leaves are not able to breathe effectively and carry out the process of transpiration.

b)      Proposed Mitigative Strategies Against Water Pollution

Since water pollution is a man’s problem, it can therefore only be solved by man himself. If several basic environmental ethics are adhered to, the issue of a polluted environment will be a thing of the past. Some of the proposed mitigative strategies include; responsible waste disposal. Industries should set a side an area away from wetlands and water bodies where they could dump their waste responsibly. The economic theory of polluter pay principle should be adopted by the government to ensure that whenever there’s an oil spillage thereby causing danger to the general environment, the company bearing the responsibility should foot the bills for cleaning up its mess.

There should also be awareness campaigns both in the media and environmental forums where people are taught on the importance of conserving our environment and also equipped with the necessary know-how on how to go about cleaning the environment.

The governments could also enact an environmental law that would guard against the unscrupulous business men and individuals who would want to dump waste without following the proper procedures.

c)      Current Sustainability Strategies And Solutions

In order to attain sustainability for the strategies and solutions mentioned above a few things need to be done.  First and foremost, governments need to establish an environmental body which would act as a watch dog against companies and individuals steeped on breaking the law. Such body will have the mandate of not just monitoring and evaluations but also advising the governments on the way forward.

There should also be established an environmental kitty in addition to the budgetary allocations to the environment ministry. Such a kitty will ensure that there are always funds available for running g various environmental programs i.e. capacity building sessions and acquisitions of the latest technology like Geographical information Systems that could be used for monitoring purposes.

d)     Challenges of the strategies

The main challenge is sustainability and commitment. The program requires a lot of funds and a dedicated team of professionals who could work tirelessly with a passion for the environment. Another issue involves a situation where a problem straddles across the international boundaries where environmental laws are either none-existent are in conflict with the other country.

e)      Stakeholder involvement

These initiative mentioned here would definitely require the support and goodwill of various stakeholders in order to work effectively. According to UNEP, in order to tackle the issue of water pollution effectively, a mechanism should be set up with the government taking the leadership, relevant departments taking the responsibilities, environmental departments carrying out supervision and management, enterprises conducting treatment, and the public supervising and participating so that the pollution treatment effects will last for long term. This therefore calls for coordination among the various stakeholders in order to achieve synergy in environmental conservation. Funding to facilitate various activities is also expected to come from the government. Development partners like NGOs focusing on environment would also be key in achieving this mammoth task. They would provide technical know-how and supplement the government’s finances for running environmental programs. Last but not the least are the industrialists themselves. If they would be engaged in a conversation about the dangers of industrial effluents importance of responsible dumping, a great deal would have been achieved.


In conclusion, its better to appreciate the fact when one area of the environment suffers, other areas suffer as well because we re all in a connected chain. Chemical effluents have been known for centuries to be a very big challenge for many governments not only because they are costly to clean up, but most importantly, many discharges contains non-biodegradable chemicals compounds and heavy metals that pose a great risk to both flora and fauna both aquatic and non-aquatic and therefore its incumbent upon each and every one of us to be conscious about our environment and strive to ensure that its protect and clean by living responsible lifestyles.


Excelwater.com. (n.d). Retrieved June 03, 2010, from http://www.excelwater.com
Grinningplanet.com. (n.d). Retrieved June 04, 2010 from www.grinningplanet.com
unep.org. (n.d). Retrieved June 04, 2010 from www.unep.org


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Main sources of water pollution in urban areas versus rural areas Essay

Main sources of water pollution in urban areas versus rural areas Essay.

Water constitutes approximately 70 percent of the earth’s surface and therefore it is a significant resource (Krantz and Kifferstein (n. d. ). It is a vital resource for without water, life would cease to exist on earth. It is however unfortunate that despite being a precious commodity, water pollution is existent everywhere ranging from the rural areas to the urban areas. The World Factbook (2010, p. 1) defines pollution as “the contamination of a healthy environment by man-made waste. ” In case of water pollution, there is introduction of large amounts of substances into the water rendering it unsuitable for intended use.

Water pollutants are classified as either point source pollution or non-point source pollution. Either way, these occur in both rural and urban places but with differing magnitude. It is also notable that major sources of water pollution differ in urban and rural areas. This paper compares and contrasts between major water pollutants in rural and urban areas. Causes of water pollution in rural areas It is notable that water pollution in rural areas mainly affects ground water since ground water forms the major source of water for rural populations.

Ground water is usually contaminated in case there are leakages and in the ground tanks or in case of municipal landfills. As earlier stated, water pollution can be point source pollution or nonpoint source pollution. In point source pollution; there is direct introduction of pollutants into the water as opposed to nonpoint source pollution whereby pollutants are indirectly introduced into the water. Krantz and Kifferstein (n. d. ) provide that run-off fertilizer is a good example of nonpoint water pollution whereas oil spill is a good illustration of point water pollution.

From this illustration, it is evident that nonpoint forms of water pollution are more likely to be found in rural areas whereas point pollution is more likely to be witnessed in urban areas. In rural areas, the main source of water pollution is surface-runoff. This introduces a variety of pollutants especially chemicals that are used for agricultural purposes. Nitrates and phosphorous are commonly used in farming more so in European countries such as England, Wales and Ireland. These countries have gone to the extent of classifying some farms as nitrate vulnerable zones to indicate that the farms can easily cause nitrate pollution.

The risk of nitrate and phosphorous pollution increases depending on the time when the fertilizers are applied, the rate at which the fertilizers are applied, how fertilizers are handled and the distance between the point where fertilizers are applied and watercourses (Murray, 2010). An increase in nitrates and phosphorus causes aquatic plants to proliferate thus causing oxygen depletion as well as turbidity not to mention the clogging of water passages. This is detrimental to aquatic life as well as dependants of aquatic resources.

It is notable that run-off water pollution is also referred to as diffuse water pollution and it also entails run-off from farm buildings as well as farm roads. Manure is also likely to be washed down into water bodies during rainfall periods thus acting as a diffuse water pollution source. A study carried out by Nkwonta and Ochieng 2009) in Soghanguve area, rural South Africa, indicated that run-off from farms as well as household waste were the dominant pollutants in the local rivers. In addition, pollution from fertilizer run-off made up to 50 percent of the water run-off pollution.

Other farming chemicals such as pesticides were significant water pollutants in the region thus confirming diffuse water pollution due to farming activities as the main water pollutant in rural areas. Silt and wash-off from fields causes eutrophication whereby water bodies tend to fill up and aquatic life is harmed due to impaired respiration and suffocation. Agro-based industries are mentioned as major sources of pollution in rural areas. According to Narendra (2010), effluents from agro-based industries have a striking role in pollution of water in rural areas.

This is in combination with the already mentioned excessive application of chemical fertilizers. Narendra (2010) further reports that an assessment of 179,999 ground water sites in 26 states contains pollutants such as fluoride, nitrate, salinity, arsenic and iron as per a report by the department of Drinking Water Supply. Pollution in River Hindon is said to emanate from up to 28 agro-based industries. The release of chemicals from agro-based industries causes change in water pH as well as foaming thus interfering with the aquatic environment.

Release of agrochemicals such as DDT pollutes water and the chemicals are passed through the food chain to human beings. Organic pollution especially from sewage is also a common source of water pollution in rural areas. The organic content in sewage promotes proliferation of microorganisms that pollute water by causing disease as well as using up oxygen contained in water as they decompose the organic substances. Oxygen depletion leads to an imbalanced aquatic ecosystem. Organic water pollutants in rural areas can also emanate from decomposing plants, pastures as well as livestock waste.

It is important to identify that untreated organic waste such as sewage or farm runoffs introduce disease causing organisms such as bacteria and protozoan and diseases such as dysentery are a predictable outcome. To put extra emphasis on the contribution of agricultural wastes as water pollutants in rural areas, it is worth considering a country such as China. China stocks the largest number of pigs in the world (470 million pigs as compared to 950 million world pig stock) (Qing, 2007). China is also a leader in production of poultry and goats and therefore forming the largest water pollutant country.

It is identified that most of the waste coming from the livestock farming activities is not treated well with pig farms discharging a lot of wastewater. The waste water from poultry and pig farms has low temperature and mire which is mainly organic leads to oxygen depletion once introduced into water bodies. It is estimated that if China continues to practice poultry and livestock farming, rural water pollution from these sources will exceed pollution from fertilizer and domestic wastes. Causes of water pollution in urban areas

Urban areas usually depend on ground water as stored underground tanks. The main causes of water pollution in urban areas are leaking pipes and contamination from water and sewage being close. Since urban water is sourced from a particular point, contamination at the source is also a major phenomenon. Human waste, industrial effluents as well as household wastes have are important sources of water pollution in urban areas. Urban areas, just like rural areas, have runoff especially after rainfall and these contain pollutants that are of great concern.

Sediments are a common component of urban runoff and these constitute the greatest components of urban water pollutants. Most sediment originates from the construction industry which thrives in most urban areas. The runoff may also contain other substances such as rubber, and automobile wastes (Environmental Health and Safety Online, 2009). Petroleum products are the main automobile wastes and these contain hydrocarbons. Other constituents of urban runoff include anti-icing chemicals, heavy metals, disease causing organisms such as bacteria, as well as organic materials.

Pathogens and organic materials emanate from sewage, spoilt septic tanks, and grass and leaves. A notable source of organic waste is pet wastes whereas use of fertilizer in lawns and kitchen gardens is also common in urban areas. Nutrient pollutants like fertilizers and organic wastes enhance growth of microorganisms and decomposition of wastes thus causing a decrease in dissolved oxygen. These consequentially render aquatic life unbearable. An increase in fertilizer and pesticide pollution in Bagmati River in Kathmandu city of Nepal is a good example of an urban source of water pollution.

It is also indicated that Bagmati River experiences direct discharge of industrial and domestic untreated wastes released from Patan city as indicated by an increase in faecal coliform in the polluted areas. This is an important difference in sources of urban water pollution because water from rural regions of Bagmati has normal chemistry and coliform numbers (SEARO. , n. d). Release of sewage without treatment or with poor treatment into water bodies in urban areas has the potential to introduce disease causing organisms such as coliform bacteria.

Nitrates are found to be high even in treated sewage and therefore it is a great challenge as urban source of water contamination. Phosphates are also introduced in water bodies as a result of poorly treated sewage. Phosphates are notorious in speeding up the growth of algae as evidenced in the Broads Lake in the UK. As the Broads was expanding in terms of population increase, an increase in sewage with high content of phosphates was experienced with some of the sewage gaining way into the Broads Lake.

Consequently, there was a spurt in algae growth whereas water plants died eventually disturbing the lake’s ecosystem (Srinivas, 2010). A similar phenomenon has been experienced in Lake Biwa in Japan where an excess of phosphorous and nitrogen led to excessive growth of algae as well as eutrophication. As earlier noted, urban areas depend on ground water which is prone to various forms of contamination. For instance, leaking oil from storage tanks and leaking sewage lines that are in close proximity with water pipes can end up polluting ground water.

On another note, garbage can be intentionally dumped into water bodies or the mere garbage dump can end up contaminating surface water. Since urban areas usually have industries, the industries may cause water pollution indirectly by emitting gases like sulphur dioxide that cause acid rain. Acid rain ends up disturbing water chemistry and this is hazardous to living organisms. According to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (2005, para 3), “pavement and compacted areas, roofs, and reduced tree canopy and open space increase runoff volumes” eventually contaminating water significantly.

In addition to increase in runoff volume the runoff is also at a high velocity thus increasing water pollution through increased erosion of stream banks, and depositing sediments in streams. The channels through which the high velocity runoff passes through are also incised leading to an increase in sediment deposition. Runoff from urban areas has a higher potential off causing water pollution since there exists no forests or grasslands to enhance water filtration into the ground as compared to such conditions in rural areas.

Urban landscapes are nonporous thus there exists almost no opportunity for runoff to percolate. EPA also notes that runoff from highly developed urban areas can lead to increased water temperatures thus adversely affecting aquatic life and the quality of water in affected streams. If a wastewater treatment plant is not maintained well or if it is poorly cited, then there is the risk of causing water pollution in urban areas. Industrial wastes and emissions are a serious concern due to their contribution in water pollution in urban areas.

With most urban areas having industries, industrial pollutants have been of major concern. It is noted that most industries are likely to be located close to water sources for industrial process (TutorVista, 2010). Unfortunately, these same industries end up mismanaging the precious resource by introducing hazardous chemicals. Industrial wastes include acids and alkalis, heavy metals like cadmium in addition to chemicals such as ammonia. Acids and alkalis alter the pH of water whereas detergents cause increased turbidity that has the potential to intoxicate aquatic organisms.

Some of the industries cause an increase in water temperature which can be lethal to aquatic life. This is common with power plants and industries that use a lot of water for cooling purposes. It is also a common phenomenon to find oil spills in lakes and oceans. Although this cannot be purely be defined as an urban source of water pollution, it is important to know that oil spills can occur in lake regions located in urban areas. Furthermore, oil refineries can be located offshore and oil spills can occur.

Oil spills lead to death of aquatic organisms since the oil covers the surface of water preventing oxygen from penetrating (TutorVista, 2010). Conclusion Looking at the main sources of water pollution in urban and rural areas, it is evident that runoff dominate as the main source of contaminant. It is clearly evident that water pollution in rural areas is point form pollution whereas pollution in urban areas is mainly nonpoint form. However, the content of the runoff differ with rural runoff contain contaminants that are mainly agricultural-based whereas urban areas have industrial-based runoff.

In rural areas, runoff mainly contains fertilizer compounds such as nitrates and phosphorous causing a proliferation in algae and water plants. The consequent eutrophication leads to oxygen depletion and death of aquatic life. Runoff from livestock farms also introduces organic compounds that are lead to oxygen depletion as they are decomposed by microorganism. In urban areas, runoff is mainly composed of sediments from construction industries as well as industrial and automobile wastes. Urban runoff is more detrimental since percolation is rare unlike in the vegetated rural areas.

Acid rain is a possible water pollutant in urban areas due to emission of noxious gases from the many industries in rural areas. In both rural and urban areas, human waste from poorly treated or untreated sewage is emergent as a popular water pollutant. Pathogens such as bacteria and viruses are also evident as water pollutants in both rural and urban areas as introduced by human and animal waste.


Environmental Health and Safety Online. (2009). Causes and control of water pollution in urban areas. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from http://www. ehso. com/ehshome/WaterPollution_Urban.htm Environmental Protection Agency. (2005). National management measures to control nonpoint source pollution from urban areas. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from http://www. epa. gov/nps/urbanmm/ Krantz, D. and Kifferstein, B. (nd). Water pollution and society. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from http://www. umich. edu/~gs265/society/waterpollution. htm Murray, P. (2010). Controlling diffuse water pollution in rural areas. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from http://www. netregs. gov. uk/netregs/100797. aspx Narendra, C. (2010, Mar. 10). Water pollution in surface resources and rural areas.

Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from http://www. mynews. in/News/Water_Pollution_in_Surface_Resources_and_Rural_Areas_N40334. html Nkwonta, O. I. and Ochieng, G. M. (2009). Water pollution in Soshanguwe environs of South Africa. World Academy of Science, Engineering and Technology 56: 499-503. Qing, C. (2007). Urban & rural water pollution: hazard & control. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from http://www. ecosanres. org/icss/proceedings/presentations/51–CHEN-Qing–EN. pdf SEARO. (n. d). National Environmental & Health Action Plan: Environmental problems. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from

http://www. searo. who. int/LinkFiles/National_Environment_&_Health_Action_Plan_chp9a. pdf Srinivas, H. (2010). Urban water pollution. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from http://www. gdrc. org/uem/water/watershed/urban-water-pollution. html TutorVista. (2010). Water pollution. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from http://www. tutorvista. com/content/biology/biology-ii/environment-and-environmental-problems/water-pollution. php World Factbook. (2010). Environment – current issues. Retrieved 14, Aug. 2010 from

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Main sources of water pollution in urban areas versus rural areas Essay

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