We all need clean water. People need it to grow crops and to operate factories, and for drinking and recreation. Fish and wildlife depend on it to survive.
Many different pollutants can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and oceans. The three most common are soil, nutrients, and bacteria. Rain washes soil into streams and rivers. The soil can kill tiny animals and fish eggs. It can clog the gills of fish and block light, causing plants to die. Nutrients, often from fertilizers, cause problems in lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. Nitrogen and phosphorus make algae grow and can turn water green. Bacteria, often from sewage spills, can pollute fresh or salt water.
You can help protect your water supply:
- Don't pour household products such as cleansers, beauty products, medicines, auto fluids, paint, and lawn care products down the drain. Take them to a hazardous waste collection site.
- Throw away excess household grease (meat fats, lard, cooking oil, shortening, butter, margarine, etc.) diapers, condoms, and personal hygiene products in the garbage can.
- Clean up after your pets. Pet waste contains nutrients and germs.
Environmental Protection Agency
- Coastal Pollution (National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science)
- Learn about Water (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Primer on Water Quality (U.S. Geological Survey)
- Water Quality (U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Water Quality)
- What Can You Do to Protect Local Waterways? (Environmental Protection Agency) - PDF
- Septic Tanks May Allow Fecal Matter into Lakes, Rivers (08/03/2015, HealthDay)
- Beach Sand, Not Water, More Likely to Make You Sick (07/17/2015, HealthDay)
- After the Storm (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Coastal Watershed Factsheets (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Cyanobacteria (National Office for Marine Biotoxins and Harmful Algal Blooms)
- Residential Wastewater Treatment Systems (NSF International)
- Wastewater Treatment (U.S. Geological Survey)
- Watersheds (Environmental Protection Agency)
- What Is Nonpoint Source Pollution? (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Acid Rain (Environmental Protection Agency) Available in Spanish
- Biological Hazards in Sewage and Wastewater Treatment Plants (Center to Protect Workers' Rights) - PDF
- Contaminated Sediments in Water (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Effects of Urbanization on Water Quality: Pesticides (U.S. Geological Survey)
- Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Human Health at the Beach (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Hysteria over Pfiesteria (Environmental Protection Agency) - PDF
- Special Topics in Water Science (Water Pollution) (U.S. Geological Survey)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Protozoan Infections (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
- Water Science Glossary of Terms (U.S. Geological Survey)
Find an Expert
- Beach Advisory and Closing On-line Notification: Find a Beach (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water)
- Environmental Protection Agency
- Fish Consumption Advisories (Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water)
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Available in Spanish
- U.S. Geological Survey, Office of Water Quality
Finance and Policy
- Water: Human Health (Environmental Protection Agency)