Water Pollution / Polución de Agua
Access to clean water is one of the world’s largest health and environmental problems. Pollution of water sources creates a chemical, biological, or physical change in water quality that causes harmful effects on the inhabitants of the water or makes the water unusable for its desired purposes1. Water pollution can come from either point or non-point sources1. Point sources are specifically identifiable sources and could include a pipe from a plant disposing of waste into a river1. A non-identifiable source is a non-point source and includes water runoff from agriculture, lawns, and parking lots1.

A six mile stretch of the Willamette River was a superfund site in 2000 because the riverbed sediments showed high levels of contamination by metals and chemicals that included pesticides and herbicides2. A superfund designation requires that responsible parties clean up or pay to clean up the sites that have been contaminated heavily with pollution that is hazardous to humans and the environment3. Historically, pollution in the Willamette River was from point sources such as paper mills but more recently the contamination has come from non-point sources especially where pesticides and manure are present4. Assessments of ground water in the Willamette basin have reveled nitrogen, pesticides, phosphorus, volatile organic compounds, and radon contamination5. Additionally, late in 2008, seven pesticides were found in Oregon’s groundwater that posed risks to human and environmental health6.

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1. Miller, T.G. (2007) Living in the Environment, Fifteenth Edition (Canada: Thompson).
2. NOAA Coastal Protection & Restoration Division (2006) Portland Harbor Watershed Database & Mapping Project. Available at mapping2.orr.noaa.gov/ (accessed July 2009).
3. US Environmental Protection Agency (2009) Superfund: Basic Information. Available at www.epa.gov/superfund/about.htm (accessed July 2009).
4.Willamette River Keeper (no date) Pollution. Available at willamette-riverkeeper.org/WRK/pollution.html (accessed July 2009).
5. Hinkle, Stephen (1997) Quality of Shallow Ground Water in Alluvial Aquifers of the Willamette Basin, Oregon, 1993-95. Available at or.water.usgs.gov (accessed July 2009).
6. Knowlton, S. (2008) 7 pesticides found in groundwater, Statesman Journal. Available at www.co.benton.or.us/ (accessed October 2008).

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