We use water for drinking, washing, cooking, irrigating crops, manufacturing products, and recreation. Underground water is obtained by drilling wells and pumping it to the surface. We use more underground water than the water cycle can replace. One way to conserve underground water is to protect watersheds. A watershed is a land area from which water drains into a river or a lake. People can protect a watershed by keeping it covered with grasses, herbs, shrubs, or trees. The plants hold the soil in place and slow down running water.
Measures should be undertaken to conserve water. Farmers can plant andirrigate crops in ways that save water. Industries can help conserve water. Dirty water can be cleaned in water treatment plants and recycled for later use. At home, you can conserve household water by repairing leaky faucets, taking shorter showers, and watering your plants properly.
How about rivers and oceans? How can bodies of water be kept clean and suitable for water animals? One way is to avoid throwing garbage in rivers. Eutrophication is a process whereby a body of water becomes enriched with nutrients released by natural or manmade processes. In effect water lilies or algae grow increasingly fast resulting to algal bloom. Thus the number of plants exceeds the number of organisms that can eat them. This upsets the balance of life processes between animals and plants. As algae start to decay, large amounts of oxygen in the water are used up. When the oxygen supply becomes too little, water animals eventually die. As these animals decay, more oxygen in consumed. Without oxygen, decomposition of dead organisms slows down, producing foul-smelling wastes.
Eutrophication has become a major cause of water pollution. Detergents as well as nitrates from industrial plants discharge nutrients that lead to eutrophication. People must find ways to prevent the disposal of garbage and organic wastes in bodies of water.
Like soil, air is a natural resource. The air that makes up the earth’s atmosphere is a mixture of several gases. The main gases include nitrogen (78%), oxygen (21%),and carbon dioxide, water vapor, and others (1%). Fossil fuels are products of decayed plants and animals that are preserves in the earth’s crust over millions of years. Gases and particles given off when these fuels are burned are called emissions. Emissions can pollute the air, and polluted air is dangerous to life.
Air pollutants can cause eye irritation and respiratory or breathing problems. People with lung diseases often must stay indoors when pollution levels are very high.
Some amounts of polluted air are cleaned by nature. Air pollutants may dissolve in rainwater and snow. Air pollutants may be carried up into the atmosphere when warm air rises. However, today we often pollute air faster than it can be cleaned by nature.
Conserving clean air is important. We cannot live without clean air. We may not be able to stop all kinds of air pollution, but air pollution can be controlled. One way to prevent particulates from polluting air is to use scrubbers. A scrubber is a device that fits in a smokestack and removes particulates before smoke is released into the air.
Air pollution from motor vehicles can be reduced by improving the way engines burn fuel. New kinds of vehicles that are less polluting may be develop. Today these are a number of laws designed to control air pollution. The Clean Air Acts sets limit on the amount of pollutants that can be released into the air. Automobile manufacturers are required to control gas emissions from car exhausts. And, in many areas, it is against the law to burn garbage or leaves.
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