Water Pollution Solutions
for the United States
by Merlin Hearn

water sewage pollution

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Many water pollution solutions for the United States are already well known and viable to implement. They just need to be passed into law and enforced.

I believe that our nation, as the leading superpower of the world, has a responsibility to set an example of how a country should protect its environment and future assets.

The more we, as a society, pollute our environment, the more and more our soil and rivers are unable to support life.

This irresponsible behavior causes a backlash and forces us to have to reach out to other countries for many of our basic needs and foods.

It is not too late to stop our pollution and save our rivers and farmland, but to do so we have to start implementing some practices and laws that will protect our environment.

The following are just a few water pollution solutions that need to be enforced to make a difference.

Reduce Nutrient and Pesticide Pollution

We need to encourage smart agricultural practices and give our farmers incentives to use organic and biodegradable fertilizers and pesticides.

  • Using techniques like biodynamic farming, no-till planting, and settling ponds can all help keep polluted runoff from entering our streams.
  • Animal agriculture can also be a problem. For example, the substances used to stimulate chicken’s mutant growth are running off into our water systems, causing excessive nutrient pollution. In the long-run it would be nice to see these barbaric practices imposed on animals banned, but in the meantime these farms need to have much stricter water regulations.
  • New crops being farmed with genetically modified seeds next to organic farms are ruining the organic crops! New GMO crops should not be allowed in the same area as existing organic farms.

Reduce Sewage Pollution

Sewage pollution is prevalent throughout the United States.

If a toilet in your house was spewing contents onto your bathroom floor, you would make sure the plumber is at your house that day!

As a society, don’t you think we should be placing the same degree of importance on upgrading out-of-date or under-capacity sewage treatment plants that are more likely to spew their contents into waterways?

As one of many water pollution solutions, reducing sewage pollution could make a big impact and it is not that difficult to remedy:

  • Upgrading our sewage treatment plants would not be all that expensive. Maryland instituted a mere $3 tax on citizens’ sewer bills to help fund the upgrade of the state’s aging treatment plants.
  • The “Clean Water State Revolving Fund” provides federal funding in the form of loans to cities that need to upgrade their systems.

Stop Deforestation

A healthy forest acts like a sponge to soak up the rains when they come, holding the water and filtering it before it enters the nearby rivers, streams, and lakes.

When ALL the trees are cut down (“clear cutting”), which is most loggers’ preferred method of operation, the forest ecosystem dies and no longer provides this valuable filtration service.

Rain water rushes directly into the streams, flowing over exposed soil, carrying sediment pollution and metal pollution into nearby waterways.

As a society, we can do the following to help stop deforestation as a water pollution solution:

  • Support efforts to ban clear cutting to support healthy forests.
  • Support “roadless rules” that keep logging roads out of pristine national forests.
  • Use paper sourced with high levels of “post consumer content” to help reduce the pollution from the production of virgin paper.

Reduce Mercury Emissions

Mercury is one of the most dangerous poisons that can get into our waterways. U.S. power plants account for over 40 percent of U.S. mercury emissions!

Better technology exists that can remove 90 percent of the mercury out of emissions. This technology is one of the most important water pollution solutions since mercury is so dangerous to our health.

New plants could allow only “coal gasification,” which filters out nearly all of the mercury.

You can read more on the health and environmental causes and effects of mercury in water here.

Utilize Cleaner Mining Practices

Some streams are so polluted from acid mine drainage that workers who wade into streams to take water samples must wear protective boots and gloves; otherwise the polluted water could cause skin blisters and sores.

Some bodies of water are so polluted from mining that they are completely devoid of life.

Many treatment plants don’t filter out the heavy metals and this is having disastrous effects on people living nearby, causing diseases from cancer to birth defects.

There are a number of things we can do as a society to help enforce cleaner mining practices, which is one of the most important water pollution solutions:

  • Insist that regulatory agencies force industry to clean up long-abandoned but still-polluting mines.
  • Tell our elected officials to prevent the development of new mines where they are likely to cause water pollution.
  • Demand that the mining industry stops the highly destructive mining practice of mountaintop removal, which often kills all nearby aquatic life and streams.
  • Steer towards gold jewelry that is not produced with typical high-pollution methods.

Clean Up Chemical Pollution

Biologist Joseph Sheldon has described the chemical influence on our biosphere as “global toxification.”

Our better living in the short-term has had a serious pollution downside and is threatening the longitude of our lives and the health of our children. Here’s what we, as a society, can do about chemical pollution to help out:

  • Reinvigorate progress on cleaning up superfund sites, and reestablish the “polluter pays” principle. There is no reason taxpayers should have to pay the bill for decades of industry misuse.
  • Eliminate all remaining industrial waste-water discharges to streams, enforcing a zero-emission policy for factories.
  • Sign into U.S. law the international treaty on persistent organic pollutants.
  • Synthetic chemicals should be treated as toxic unless proven otherwise. The concept has already been incorporated in Europe. And the U.S. public is currently a guinea pig for studying the long-term effects of chemicals that haven’t been proven safe.
  • Upgrade water treatment plants so they can filter out chemicals and pharmaceuticals. Most water purification plants filter out neither.

Use Different Energy Sources

Many alternative sources of energy exist besides coal-based that can effectively power our municipalities.

Moving much more aggressively on increasing our use of solar energy, wind power, wave/tide energy, and other clean technologies that don’t use freshwater resources is a good solution for the environment and in general.


These are just a few of the many water pollution solutions available to our society today.

But we must act now to protect our natural resources so that our kids and grandkids will have a sustainable, green country left to inhabit.

It is never too soon to start, first around the house. Then we can spread out to influence our city and county. If we all make a little difference in our local communities, we will be taking huge steps in the right direction for our society.

Last but not least, tell your local government what you think!

Further reading . . .

Solutions to Water Pollution – 5 Simple Ways You Can Make a Difference 

Return from Water Pollution Solutions to Types of Water Pollution 

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