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
- Primer on Water Quality (U.S. Geological Survey)
- Cyanobacteria (National Office for Marine Biotoxins and Harmful Algal Blooms)
- Acid Rain (Environmental Protection Agency)
- Biological Hazards in Sewage and Wastewater Treatment Plants (Center to Protect Workers' Rights) - PDF
- Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
- Human Health at the Beach (Environmental Protection Agency)
- ClinicalTrials.gov: Protozoan Infections (National Institutes of Health)
Journal ArticlesReferences and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)
Find an Expert
- Environmental Protection Agency Available in Spanish
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences Available in Spanish