The Effects of Stormwater Pollution
What are the Effects of Pollution? Polluted stormwater can have many adverse
effects on plants, fish, animals, and us!
Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for
aquatic plants to grow.
- Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they decompose which
removes oxygen from the water. This in turn kills the fish and other organisms
in the water!
- Debris such as plastic bags, six pack rings, bottles and cigarette butts that
wash into waterbodies can choke or suffocate aquatic life like ducks, fish,
turtles and birds.
- Household cleaners, insecticides, paints, etc. can poison aquatic life. Then,
land animals and people can become sick or die from eating these diseased fish
and shellfish or by ingesting polluted water!
- Polluted stormwater can affect drinking water sources which in turn can affect
human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.
Impact on Drinking Water
Stormwater pollution can contaminate our surface waters which directly impacts
the source of our drinking water. Water is a staple in our daily lives. We use
it for drinking, washing our clothes, showering, watering our lawns and more. As
pollution continues to impact drinking water supplies, there will be continued
efforts to test and treat contaminants, leading to increasing prices for clean
and safe drinking water.
Impact on Wildlife Habitat
Urban development can alter aquatic habitat by polluting water, changing water
temperature, degrading in-stream and riparian habitat, and altering the natural
flow of rivers and streams. Water pollution creates an unhealthy environment for
habitat and wildlife that live in and around waterways. The erosion of sediment
into rivers and streams can be detrimental to fish and other aquatic life that
need gravel and rocks to spawn and rear their young (i.e. fish and frogs).
Sediment can also fill in pools that are an important part of fish habitat.
Impact on Recreation
Stormwater pollution is a serious problem for wildlife dependent on our
waterways and for the people who live near polluted rivers, lakes and streams.
It can cause a decline in fish populations, disturb habitats and limit water
recreation activities. E. Coli (Escherichia coli) bacteria from human and animal
waste is often carried in polluted stormwater runoff posing a threat to humans
and the overall health of the ecosystem.
Impact on Quality of Life
Uncontrolled stormwater pollution affects the way a stream or other water body
looks and smells, making it unpleasant to be near. This can impact the quality
of life for everyone living in and around a community. Increased nutrients,
usually from fertilizers, may cause algae blooms, particularly on ponds and
small lakes. These algae blooms not only make the pond look bad, they choke out
the other vegetation and aquatic life. Trash and debris in the drainage system
can lead to foul odors and may attract rats and other pests. Large amounts of
sediment can harm the quality of life and reduce opportunities for recreation
due to infilling of creeks, ponds and lakes. If trash reaches the stream, it
ruins the beauty for everyone.
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