“We will never realise the value of water until the well is dry!”
Water is life. It is one of the great blessings which we cannot manufacture, even if we get all the raw materials.
India has no scarcity of rivers, lakes and ponds. People depend a lot on surface water to meet their requirements.
Though India is well-endowed with fresh water resources, there are some areas where there is no surface water. People in such areas depend on groundwater to fulfil their needs.
It is so unfortunate that surface, as well as groundwater sources, in India are in “poor condition”. There is widespread pollution in the water sources.
We can use Water Purifiers to reduce the level of impurities present in groundwater.
In this post, we shall discuss the causes and effects of groundwater pollution in India. You will also get to know about the changes that can be made to cut back on the pollutants.
What Are the Causes of Groundwater Pollution?
Some of the causes of Groundwater Pollution are as under:
1. Natural Causes
- Soil and Geological formations contain heavy metals which percolate in the groundwater.
- Fluoride containing minerals also contaminate water.
- Arsenic is naturally present in Aquifers. An aquifer is a porous rock which transmits groundwater. When groundwater passes or sits in these rocks for a long time, it leads to an arsenic build-up in groundwater.
- Radon gas is another natural groundwater pollutant.
2. Direct Causes
Sometimes the hazardous waste is disposed or dumped directly on the ground. Doing this increases the chances of it spilling into the soil and water.
It is another major cause of pollution. Longer a landfill remains full of waste; more the toxins seep into the soil.
3. Indirect Causes
Examples of less direct sources of groundwater pollution are:
Gasoline and Diesel are another indirect pollutants. These are kept in underground storage. Sometimes they leak and seep into the ground around them.
We also know that the use of these fuels pollutes the atmosphere.
It further causes groundwater pollution through the rain.
When surface water in an area gets polluted, the pollutants evaporate in the air and water present in the atmosphere.
As a result, the rain polluted with impurities fall as ‘Acid Rain’.
Acid Rain disturbs the pH of water.
4. Man-Made Causes
We cannot deny the fact that human beings are major polluters of groundwater.
Some of the man-made causes are as under:
Excessive use of fertilisers and pesticides degrades the quality of groundwater. They contain nitrates. The groundwater becomes prone to harmful chemicals, especially during heavy rainfalls.
Excessive extraction of groundwater for irrigation depletes groundwater resources.
- Disposal of sludge.
- Release of toxic effluents.
- Brine released by Petroleum industries, which increases salt content in water.
- Leakage of underground gas tanks.
- Nuclear power plants.
Such polluted water consists of heavy metal impurities which affect the health.
- Release of municipal and animal wastes in large amounts.
- Landfills and seepage from septic tanks.
What are the Effects of Groundwater Pollution?
Let us now see how does groundwater pollution affects us.
1. Effects on Health
Health effects are some of the greatest risks associated with groundwater pollution.
Some of the major health effects are as under:
- Arsenic present in drinking water can cause skin diseases, gastro problems and can even cause Cancer.
- Fluorides present in polluted water are the major cause of joint problems.
- If we drink sewage-polluted water, it may cause viral and bacterial diseases.
- It may cause Hepatitis, a disease which damages the liver.
- It can also cause Blue Baby Syndrome in new-born babies.
- Apart from human beings, it can also make animals sick.
2. Effects on Agriculture
It destroys the soil quality. It makes soil less fertile and hence the production level decreases.
Haryana and Punjab have high salt content in the soil. It has resulted in low agricultural productivity in these states.
3. Effects on Economy
- It depreciates the value of land.
- Less stable industries which rely on groundwater.
- It increases the cost of maintaining the health of people.
- Cleaning up the groundwater sources is a costly affair.
4. Effects on Environment
- Nutrient Pollution: It depletes the essential nutrients present in water. Whereas, it cause some nutrients to become abundant in the water which we need in a tiny amount. Fishes might start dying off. Plants might not be able to absorb the water easily.
- It increases the level of toxic water in the ecosystems. It slowly causes to more and more toxicity in water.
States which witness a high level of Groundwater Pollution
Groundwater pollution is the highest in the following states:
- Andhra Pradesh
- Tamil Nadu.
Along with these states, a very high level of pollution in water is seen in the union territory of Delhi.
What Has the Government Done to Tackle the Problem?
The State and Central Governments have taken steps to resolve this serious problem.
Various bills and acts exist in India to prevent and control this problem, some of which are as under:
Water Act, 1974
The prime object of this act is to prevent pollution. It restricts the release of chemicals and pollutants in the surface water as well as groundwater.
The Environment Act, 1986
This act extends to water quality and control of pollution.
Section 2(a) of this act lays focus on water quality. This act defines water quality standards for safe drinking water.
Arsenic Task Force (2005), West Bengal
It focuses on the setting up of arsenic removal units to remove arsenic from groundwater.
Groundwater Bill, 2017
It is a Sustainable Management bill. It puts light on the need to protect water at the aquifer level.
It proposes to use groundwater wisely, protect it for our own benefit and for the coming generations.
Yamuna Clean Up, Agra – An Excellent Effort by the People!
A journalist started this campaign in June 2015.
It is people’s movement in Agra for cleaning the river Yamuna.
Every Sunday, people conduct cleanliness drive along the bank of the river.
In a bid to clean the river, people offer evening prayers and put efforts to restore the river which has now become a sewage canal.
What Can We Do to Resolve the Problem?
Some of the remedies which can help to resolve the problem are as follows:
- The best way to deal with the problem is by making people aware.
- Farmers, who over-exploit the groundwater, should be dealt strictly.
- The Government should ensure safe drinking water in the polluted areas.
- Use of devices like RO Purifiers can help to improve the water quality.
- The Government can encourage people and society to recharge a groundwater resource through incentives.
We have seen how does groundwater pollution affects our health, environment and economy.
The more we educate ourselves about the issue, the better off we and the world around us can be!
No law can succeed unless the people are not aware.
Don’t be afraid to make small changes in your home to improve the quality of groundwater.
Remember, “We have not inherited these valuable resources from our ancestors but, we borrowed it from the future generation! We must take care of these resources.”