What are the impacts of water pollution?
Water of adequate quality is an increasingly scarce resource. Substantial investments in wastewater treatment plants and progress in controlling point sources of pollution have contributed to significant improvements in water quality in recent decades. But a focus on point source pollution as a means of improving water quality is reaching its limits. Water pollution from unregulated diffuse sources of pollution from both urban and rural areas continues to rise. Unless attention is turned to these sources, further deterioration of water quality and freshwater ecosystems can be expected as human population grow, industrial and agriculture production intensifies, and climate change causes significant alteration to the hydrological cycle.
Unlike point source pollution, which enters a water body at a specific site such as a pipe discharge, diffuse pollution occurs when pollutants from a variety of activities runoff, leach or deposit into surface and groundwater bodies. The most prevalent water quality challenge globally is eutrophication. This is characterised by oxygen depletion and algal blooms leading to significant loss of aquatic biodiversity. The primary cause can be traced to excess nutrients from agriculture runoff.
Reducing the costs of diffuse pollution requires much greater attention from policymakers. The cost of current water pollution from diffuse sources exceeds billions of dollars each year. Economic costs include:
· Degradation of ecosystem services
· Health related costs
· Impacts on economic activities such as agriculture, industrial production, and tourism
· Increased water treatment costs
· Reduced property values
The scale of these costs means that seeking increasingly marginal reductions in point source pollution is no longer the most cost-effective approach to improve water quality.
The relative lack of progress with reducing diffuse pollution reflects the complexities of controlling multiple pollutants from multi sources, their high spatial and temporal variability, associated transactions costs, and limited political acceptability of regulatory measures.
This is where UnifAI Technology takes a major step forward in providing guidance on better managing water quality risks, by the deployment of real-time water quality monitoring solutions, that can provide timely information about water quality by directly processing the data collected from distributed monitoring mechanisms, thereby enabling quick responses to address potential leakages and water pollution incidents.