According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, “water quality describes the condition of the water, including chemical, physical, and biological characteristics, usually with respect to its suitability for a particular purpose such as drinking or swimming.” The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops the national standards for drinking water, although state agencies are primarily responsible for enforcement of these standards. Additionally, these scientific measurements cannot easily delegate what kind of water is “good” or “bad.” Therefore, within these regulations there are two classifications: primary and secondary attributes, which deal with the purpose of the water. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “changing climate patterns are threatening lakes and rivers, and key sources that we tap for drinking water are being overdrawn or tainted witH pollution.”2 Now, more than ever, is a time to take action in preventing further water contamination.
Not only does poor water quality threaten human health and stability, but it also poses great risks for ecosystems. Clean water is the key to a thriving and sustainable community. However, “when water from rain and melting snow runs off roofs or roads and into our rivers, it picks up toxic chemicals, dirt, trash and disease-carrying organisms along the way. Many of our water resources also lack basic protections, making them vulnerable to pollution from factory farms, industrial plants, and activities like fracking.” All of these seemingly random factors can contribute to water pollution and thus pose health risks to our populations. On the home front, people can help prevent the degradation of water by “supporting and participating in advanced wastewater treatment programs that remove unwanted nutrients and harmful bacteria, using ‘pump-out’ stations for your vessel’s sanitation device, using as many ‘green’ products as possible at home, and reducing or eliminating the use of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.”1