Water: the lifeline

Water is finite resource that has always been scarce in Pakistan. Glaciers are melting, flows in rivers are declining, and lakes are drying up whereas human, agricultural and industrial demands for water are ever increasing. Sadly, whatever water we have at our disposal is getting affected due to contaminations rendering it unfit for its intended use.

Major types of water pollutants include toxic substance (herbicides, pesticides and industrial discharge) and organic substance (municipal discharge). Water also gets polluted when used as a coolant in industrial concerns and then is returned to the aquatic environment at a higher temperature than it was originally. Ecological pollution is caused by natural rather than human activities like increased rate of silt in the waterway after a landslide. Petroleum, radioactive substances and urban surface water runoff are some other forms of water pollutants.

Pollutants are either emitted directly into the waterways. A pipe discharging toxic chemicals directly into a river is an example. Or pollutants get mixed in into waterways, for instance, when fertilizers from fields are carried into a stream by surface runoff. Indirect sources include contaminants that enter the water from soils or groundwater systems or from the atmosphere.

The problems associated with water pollution have the capabilities to disrupt life on our planet. Contaminant make drinking water poisonous for human consumption and when taken cause waterborne diseases. Even those who swim in pools or rivers are vulnerable to water illnesses. Polluted water is also harmful for agricultural use, poisonous for animals and can unbalances water ecosystems that can no longer support biological diversity in rivers, lakes and oceans. Reports are that in the Indus River, fish species’ diversity has been reduced. Breeding of palla fish has declined and the Blind Dolphin is facing extinction.

There are many practical solutions for cleaning water resources but they are mostly costly for developing countries like ours. Best we can do is to control the increasing levels at which pollutants are being introduced into the water. Law (EPA 1997) is in place and should be strictly implemented.

In our everyday lives, a great deal can be done to minimize water pollution if we act carefully. Present day standard and way of life is based upon practices which are inherently more pollutant than those of earlier generations. But without taking a step backward in terms of our standards of living, the answer seems to lie in a combination of small changes in our practices. It is ultimately up to us, to be informed, responsible and involved when it comes to the problems we face with water we use for different purposes. As humans, we have the ability to combat water pollution, awareness and education most assuredly being the two important ways to prevent water pollution.

To save water — the common lifeline, we must all do our part.

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