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INTRO - Water pollution is the contamination of water bodies (e.g.

lakes, rivers, oceans, aquifers,

estuaries, etc). Water pollution occurs when pollutants are discharged directly or indirectly into water bodies without
adequate treatment to remove harmful compounds. Most pollutants are generated as wastes from humans domestic /
industrial activites. This generated waste-water is also called sewage. It contains large amounts of heavy organic matter,
toxic inorganic chemicals and microbes. Many of which are pathogenic which lead to Water-borne-diseases. Water
pollution affects plants and organisms living in these bodies of water. The effect is damaging to virtually all
natural biological communities associated with water.

fit/unfit ?

A mere 0.1 per cent impurities make
domestic sewage unfit for human use!
Impurities being 1. Suspended Solids- sand/silt/clay
2. Left Over Food / Fecal matter / Paper / Cloth
3. Dissolved inorganic nutrients
(nitrates, phosphates, sulphates, NH3, Na/Ca)

Treatment of waste water is done by the heterotrophic microbes naturally present in the sewage.

Primary treatmentinvolve physical removal of solid particles from the sewage through filtration and sedimentation.
1. These are removed in stages; initially, floating debris is removed by sequential filtration.
2. Then the grit (soil and small pebbles) are removed by sedimentation, filtration.
NOW All solids that settle form the primary sludge, and the supernatant forms the effluent. The effluent from the primary
settling tank is taken for secondary treatment.

Secondary Treatment1. The primary effluent is passed into large aeration tanks where it is constantly agitated mechanically and air is pumped
into it. This allows vigorous growth of useful aerobic microbes into flocs (masses of bacteria associated with fungal
filaments to form mesh like structures).
2. While growing, these microbes consume the major part of the organic matter in the effluent. This significantly reduces
the BOD of the effluent. BOD (biochemical oxygen demand) refers to the amount of the oxygen that would be
consumed if all the organic matter in one liter of water were burned by bacteria. Indirectly, BOD is a measure of the
organic matter present in the water. The greater the BOD of waste water, more is its polluting potential.
3. The Effluent is then passed into a settling tank where the bacterial flocs are allowed to sediment. This sediment is
called activated sludge. A small part of the activated sludge is pumped back into the aeration tank to serve as the
inoculums (act as immunologically active antibodies). The remaining major part of the sludge is pumped into large tanks
called anaerobic sludge digesters. Here, other kinds of bacteria, which grow anaerobically, digest the activated sludge.
During this digestion, bacteria produce a mixture of gases such as methane, hydrogen sulphide and carbon dioxide.
These gases form biogas and can be used as source of energy as it is inflammable.
NOW This effluent from the secondary treatment plant is generally released into natural water bodies like rivers and


BOD (biological oxygen demand) is a measure of the amount of oxygen
needed by microbes to break down the organic matter in sample water.

DO (dissolved oxygen) is the amount of oxygen dissolved in the water.

A : before sewage dischargeDO is optimum, BOD isnt

B : after sewage dischargeWhen BOD is high, it means

there's a lot of organic
contaminants in the water, and
the microbes are growing,
breaking it down. They use up
oxygen while doing this, so when
BOD is high, DO is low.

C : Reappearance of Clean
Water- When the microbes
finish breaking down the organic
contaminants, their numbers
drop due to lack of food (a lower
BOD). DO replenishes up again.

ALGAL BLOOM Presence of large amounts of nutrients in waters also causes excessive growth of planktonic (free-floating) algae, which
imparts a distinct colour to the water bodies. Algal blooms cause deterioration of the water quality and fish mortality. Some
bloom-forming algae are extremely toxic to human beings and animals.

TERROR OF BENGAL The plants of water hyacinth (Eichhornia crassipes),with beautiful mauve-colored flowers were introduced into India for
their lovely appearance. But instead caused havoc by their excessive growth by causing blocks in our waterways. They
grow abundantly in eutrophic water bodies faster than our ability to remove them,lead to an imbalance in the ecosystem
dynamics of the water body.

BIOMAGNIFICATION Refers to increase in concentration of the toxicant at successive trophic levels. This happens because a toxic substance
accumulated by an organism cannot be metabolised or excreted, and is thus passed on to the next higher trophic level.
This phenomenon is well-known for mercury and DDT. High concentrations of DDT disturb calcium metabolism in birds,
which causes thinning of eggshell and their premature breaking, eventually causing decline in bird populations.

EUTROPHICATION is the natural aging of a lake by biological enrichment of its water. In a young lake the water is cold and clear, supporting
little life. With time, streams draining into the lake introduce nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, which encourage
the growth of aquatic organisms. As the lakes fertility increases, plant and animal life burgeons (flourishes), and organic
remains begin to be deposited on the lake bottom. Over the centuries, as silt and organic debris pile up, the lake grows
shallower and warmer, with warm-water organisms supplanting (following) those that thrive in a cold environment. Marsh
plants take root in the shallows and begin to fill in the original lake basin. Eventually, the lake gives way to large masses
of floating plants (bog), finally converting into land. Depending on climate, size of the lake and other factors, the natural
aging of a lake may span thousands of years. However, pollutants from mans activities like effluents from the industries
and homes can radically accelerate the aging process. This phenomenon has been called Cultural or Accelerated
Eutrophication. Lakes in many parts of the earth have been severely eutrophied by sewage and agricultural and
industrial wastes. The prime contaminants are nitrates and phosphates, which act as plant nutrients. They overstimulate
the growth of algae, causing unsightly scum and unpleasant odors, and robbing the water of dissolved oxygen vital to
other aquatic life. At the same time, other pollutants flowing into a lake may poison whole populations of fish, whose
decomposing remains further deplete the waters dissolved oxygen content.

Heated (thermal) wastewaters flowing out of electricity-generating units, e.g., thermal power plants, constitute
another important category of pollutants. Thermal wastewater eliminates or reduces the number of organisms sensitive to
high temperature, and may enhance the growth of plants and fish in extremely cold areas but, only after causing damage
to the indigenous flora and fauna.