Essay On Water supply in the United States

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Water supply in the United States

Water is crucial for human life, and it has many uses. From doing household chores to, cooking, farming and drinking. However, when it comes to drinking water needs to be clean. Research shows that a very significant percentage of the world population does not have access to clean drinking water. The use of contaminated water with infections is a major problem when it comes to developing nations. It has even become a public goal in such nations to reduce waterborne diseases because they have become a major cause of deaths. This is especially true because they spread very quickly.

Water is a necessity not only for humans but also for other organisms (Vuillemot, 1904). The United States Environmental Protection Agency calculated that an average American consumes around two litres of water per day (Perlman, 2014). In most parts of the world, bottled water is sold and it is much preferred since it is known to be chemically cleaned from all the dirt and chemicals that could cause harm to the human body. There are various sources of water and they include: surface waters like rivers and streams, desalinated of sea and ocean water, biological sources like plants, precipitation like the rain, groundwater and lastly through water supply like the taps at home.

Clean Water Act focuses on a discharge that is released to Publicly Owned Treatment Works (POTW). This pre-treatment program puts a control measure on the indirect release of publicly owned treatment works industries and they must meet certain regulations. As (Copeland, 2003) asserts, the main aim of the national pre-treatment program is to make sure there is no damage of the municipal sewage treatment plants that may arise as a result of the discharge of dangerous and toxic waste into their sewer system. The program also ensures that the sludge from these treatment plants is protected.

In order to account for the dwindling sources in the Great lakes, clean Water rehabilitation also has biosolids plans which are residuals from wastewater that have been treated and hence can be used beneficially (Borchert, 1954). The residual from wastewater which were formerly sewage sludge and can only be referred to as biosolids after they have passed through treatment and can be used to benefit rather than inflict harm. The Environmental Protection Agency allows the use of these biosolids in land application like farming.

The discharges of a public owned treatment works are regulated by them and not the Environmental Protection Agency. The public owned treatment works set regulations to work on a local basis but the Environmental Protection Agency sets national standards for them. These include categorical general pretreatment and technology based regulations for the industrial users of these systems. A state has the power to create its own public owned treatment works regulations which may be stricter than those set by the Environmental Protection Agency.

The nonpoint source pollution like earlier mentioned does not have a definite source where it can be traced to like pollution from industries. Some of the pollutants associated with nonpoint source pollution are: Excess fertilizers and herbicides from agricultural land, oil and chemical from energy production and urban runoff, bacteria and nutrients from livestock and pets, pollutants as a result of hydromodification, salt and acid from irrigations and abandoned mines and residual sediment from construction sites. Farmers are also encouraged to use best management practices when choosing farming methods to avoid the chances of chemicals running off into water sources.

As part of the amendments of the Clean Water Act in the year 1987, the National Estuary Program was established. With its main aim to be to identify, protect then restore the significant estuaries in the whole United States (Fuller, 1904)). The program not only focuses on the maintenance of the integrity of the whole estuary physically, chemically and biologically in addition to the protection and improving of the quality of water. The act also looks at the use of the estuary economically and recreationally. The program also encourages the local communities to take it into their own hands to take manage their estuaries.

A National Estuary Program usually consists of representatives from state, federal, local and state governments and their role is to manage the estuaries in the local communities’ interests. In the act there is also a National Coastal Water Program which incorporates the Great Lakes Program, Gulf of Mexico program and the Chesapeake Bay Program. The Chesapeake Bay Program aims at the protection and restoration of the Chesapeake Bay for the future generations. The Great Lakes Program on the other hand aims at promoting the federal, local, tribal and state and promoting the state of the Great Lakes.

The Gulf of Mexico Program aims at the restoration, protection and enhancement of coast and marine waters of the Gulf Mexico. The preservation of the Gulf and its natural resources, protection of the human health and adequate food and supply and ensure there are recreational services. Section 404 of the law requires for a permit to be fill material or dredged stuff into the waters of the United States. Many normal practices are exempted from this section and therefore no need for a permit.

The Act also addresses activities like mining and specifically oil and gas exploration. This is because the exploration and actual extraction of oil and gases in most cases happens in water bodies like oceans and seas (Doyle, 2014). Therefore with most oil deposits being in water bodies, extreme care must e taken in the exploration and actual mining process to avoid the occurrence of a leak that would cause harm to aquatic plants and water. The drilling process is very crucial to avoid the occurrence of a case where the oil or gas would break through and come into contact with the water.

The setting of drilling equipment and the actual selection of the drilling site must be approved to avoid causing harm. The oil companies are also urged to handle the discharges from the extraction of oil and gases with ultimate care to avoid the reaction with the water. The environmental Protection Agency urges that operators of oil and gas fields maintain Best Management Practices (BMP) to reduce the occurrence of any discharge including sediments in storm water for the activities before and after the exploration and mining (Perlman, 2014). They are also urged to be extra keen with the Best Management Practices (BMP) they choose since these practices are influenced by the climatic and seasonal changes. The oil and gas mining companies therefore have to be extremely careful with the practices they choose to avoid them being caught off guard after there has been a change that they did not adjust to (Hickey, 2015).

Section 402 of the Clean Water Act has a specific emphasis that required the Environmental Protection Act to process and overlooks the implementation of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System. The section specifically lays emphasis on the discharge of into navigable waters through point sources. Point sources refer to specific channels of releasing water like pipes (CDC, 2014). The Environmental Protection Agency has issued the authority to forty states to administer the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System. The agency also offers permits based on the content of the pollutants and their effect on the environment.

The permit also outlines the amount of discharge expected from the industry or individual. The laws or regulations in a state depend on certain conditions ('Assessment of climate change in southwest United States: a report prepared for the National Climate Assessment', 2013). Apart from the common threat of the discharge on the environment, some states also consider the effects of the discharge on aquatic plants or life. If the discharge poses a threat to aquatic life then under no circumstances can the permit be offered (Obegi, 2014). However in most cases, the technological standards or costs are not considered. What matters most is that the quality of water being discharged is clean and fit for not only human use but also aquatic life and recreational activities.

The act also has a restriction on those practicing aquaculture. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Aquaculture refers to a “defined water area which uses discharges of pollutants into that designated area for the maintenance or production of harvestable freshwater estuarine or marine plants or animals" (Borchert, 1954). The discharge used in such ponds need the evaluation of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System for them to be issued with a permit to carry on with their business. However, before the issue of a permit, they have to meet certain requirements.

First, they must be able to produce a harvest of more than 9090 kilograms which is about twenty thousand pounds of cold fish which include trout and salmon. The second requirement is that the project should have the ability to produce about 45,454 kilograms which is about a hundred thousand pounds of warm fish. Examples of warm fish are minnows, catfish and sunfish.


Assessment of climate change in southwest United States: a report prepared for the National Climate Assessment. (2013). Choice Reviews Online, 51(03), 51-1504-51-1504. doi:10.5860/choice.51-1504
Borchert, J. R. (1954). The surface water supply of American municipalities. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 44(1), 15-32.
CDC,. (2014). CDC - Public Water Systems - Drinking Water - Healthy Water. Retrieved 29 March 2015, from
Copeland, Claudia (2003). Clean Water Act: Current Issues and Guide to Books. New York: Nova Science Publishers.
Doyle R., (2014) New report highlights USA's water-supply woes. Retrieved September 29, 2014
Fuller, M. L. (1904). Recent Publications of the United States Geological Survey. Water Supply and Irrigation Papers. Bulletin of the American Geographical Society, 605-608.
Hickey, H. (2015). Water Supply Systems and Evaluation Methods. U.S Fire Adminstration. Retrieved 14 April 2015, from
Obegi, D. (2014). A Water Bond to Protect the Environment and the Economy | Doug Obegi's Blog | Switchboard, from NRDC. Retrieved 29 March 2015, from
Perlman, H. (2014). Public supply Water Use, the USGS Water Science School. Retrieved 29 March 2015, f