Clean water is crucial for human health, well-being, and sustainable economic growth. However, the reality is that millions worldwide still lack access to clean and safe drinking water, and water contamination remains a serious global issue.
If you’re concerned about the future of clean water and want to learn more about what can be done to address this pressing issue, keep reading because, according to a report by UNICEF, billions of people worldwide will lack safe drinking water in 2030.
Thus, from implementing better water treatment processes to promoting sustainable agriculture and reducing pollution, there must be solutions to make a real difference in the fight against water contamination.
1. Make the Polluter Pay
A policy aimed at addressing water contamination by making the responsible party pay for the costs of cleaning up and restoring contaminated water sources is necessary to enforce. However, this approach shifts the burden of costs from taxpayers to polluting entities, such as industries and agriculture.
The principle behind this approach is that those who pollute should bear the financial responsibility for cleaning up their mess. It provides a financial incentive for polluting entities to reduce their impact and invest in cleaner technologies and practices.
This approach has been successfully implemented in several countries and has led to a reduction in water pollution. In some cases, polluting entities have even been able to monetize their efforts to reduce pollution by selling credits or offsetting their emissions.
The “polluter pays” principle is a simple and effective way to address water contamination. This concept involves holding those responsible for contaminating water sources accountable for their actions and making them pay for cleaning up the pollution.
One well-known reference to this is the water contamination at Camp Lejeune lawsuit. Here, the veterans and their families sued the US government for the toxic water contamination they were exposed to while stationed at the North Carolina military base. The lawsuit resulted in the US government acknowledging the contamination and compensating those affected.
By holding those responsible accountable, this approach also helps to ensure that the polluter rather than the public bears the costs of cleaning up pollution. It, in turn, helps promote a more sustainable and responsible approach to using precious water resources.
2. Require Permits to Pollute or Discharge Wastewater
Permits serve as a way for the government to regulate and monitor the pollution released into the water. Companies must regularly monitor and report their discharge levels. If they exceed the permitted levels, they can face penalties and fines. It creates a strong incentive for companies to reduce pollution and invest in cleaner technologies and practices.
To implement this approach, governments can establish a permitting program that sets clear standards for pollution and requires companies to apply for and obtain permits before discharging waste or pollutants. In addition, companies must demonstrate that their discharge levels meet the established standards and regularly monitor and report their discharge levels.
The permit approach has been successful in reducing water pollution in many countries. For example, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) program in the United States has effectively reduced water pollution from industrial and municipal sources.
In this series, the EPA has directed the states through a memorandum, which provides directions on the usage of the clean water permitting program to get protected against PFAS, as per the press release by the EPA.
3. Empower Residents, Who Are Impacted by Contaminated Water
Allowing those who are impacted by contaminated water to have a voice in the process of addressing and solving the issue is crucial. This approach empowers residents by giving them a platform to voice their concerns and have their needs heard.
By involving residents in the decision-making process, governments and organizations can better understand the impact of contaminated water on communities. They can work to find solutions that meet their needs accordingly. It can include involving residents in monitoring and reporting pollution levels and involving them in planning and implementing clean-up efforts.
To implement this approach, governments and organizations can provide resources and support for residents to become active participants in the process. It can include training and education on water quality issues and providing opportunities for residents to get involved in monitoring and reporting efforts.
4. Strengthen Enforcement of Existing Water Laws
Existing water laws often set standards for acceptable pollution levels and require companies to obtain permits before discharging pollutants into the water. By strengthening the enforcement of these laws, governments can ensure that companies are held accountable for their actions and that contaminated water sources are cleaned up and restored.
Strengthening the enforcement of water laws is an effective approach to reducing water pollution in many countries. By holding companies accountable for their actions and ensuring they comply with regulations, governments can protect water sources and promote cleaner technologies and practices.
5. Improve Water-Pollution Monitoring and Reporting
Enhancing the monitoring and reporting of water contamination is a prime component in addressing this issue. This approach provides valuable information on the levels and sources of pollution in water sources, allowing governments and organizations to take appropriate action to reduce and eliminate contamination.
By improving monitoring and reporting, governments can gather accurate and up-to-date information on the state of water sources and assess the effectiveness of current policies and regulations to reduce pollution.
6. Establish a System of Testing for Chemicals in Drinking Water
A necessary step in ensuring the safety of water sources is creating a structure for testing chemicals in drinking water. According to Water Quality Association, toxic chemicals like ammonia, arsenic, barium, fluoride, mercury, etc., are present in drinking water, and regular testing provides valuable information on their presence.
In addition, it allows governments and organizations to take appropriate action to reduce and eliminate contamination.
By regularly testing for chemicals in drinking water, governments can gather information on the levels and sources of pollution and assess the effectiveness of current policies and regulations for reducing contamination. This information can also help identify new sources of pollution and areas needing additional attention.
It’s Necessary to Develop a System to Address Water Contamination
Water contamination is a complex and pressing issue affecting people and ecosystems worldwide. However, one can implement several effective strategies to address this issue and protect our water sources for future generations.
Each of these approaches offers unique benefits and challenges but offers a comprehensive and effective framework for addressing water contamination. By implementing these strategies, governments, and organizations can take action to protect water sources and promote clean and safe water for all.